June 04, 2010
Nurdin Hassan & Camelia Pasandaran
The body of Hasan di Tiro, founder of the former rebel group Free Aceh Movement
(GAM), is carried out from the Baiturrahman Mosque for his funeral in Banda
Aceh June 3, 2010. Di Tiro, the founder of GAM, who had waged decades-long war
against the Indonesian government, died on Thursday at the age of 84.
Free Aceh Hero Honored in Death
He was long considered an enemy of the state and was forced to spend three
decades in exile. But Tengku Hasan Muhammad di Tiro was lauded by the president
and other top officials on Thursday after dying earlier in the day in his
"I want to express my deepest condolences and pray for him to be accepted at
God's side," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said.
Hasan Tiro, 84, died at Zainoel Abidin General Hospital in the capital, Banda
He proclaimed the Aceh Sumatera state in his home region of Tiro on Dec. 4,
1976, and soon after founded the Free Aceh Movement, or GAM, after the refusal
of the government to recognize the proclamation.
"He will be buried as an Indonesian," Yudhoyono said, adding that his death
"will also mark the end of the Aceh conflict, in a dignified and peaceful way
in the full spirit of re-establishing the big family of Indonesia."
Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar, speaking before a cabinet
meeting at the president's office, said the government expressed its
condolences on the death "of our elder."
The Indonesian government granted him citizenship only a day before he died.
The coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, Djoko
Suyanto, handed the family the citizenship certificate at the hospital.
Hasan Tiro fled the country in 1977 and was granted asylum in Sweden.
He became a Swedish national, and lived there until he returned to Indonesia in
last October, four years after a peace pact was signed between GAM and the
government in Helsinki in August 2005.
GAM was disbanded after the peace pact that ended almost three decades of
bloody armed conflict that left at least 15,000 people, mostly civilians, dead.
The agreement was prompted by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in
December 2004 that killed about 170,000 people in Aceh.
Former vice president Jusuf Kalla, who was instrumental in resuming the
dialogue with GAM, also hailed Hasan Tiro as an Indonesian who had played an
important role in achieving the peace deal between the government and GAM in
A number of lawmakers, expressing their condolences, hailed him as having
played a great role in ending Aceh's drawn-out conflict.
In Banda Aceh, thousands of people, including hundreds of former GAM
guerrillas, came to the hospital to pay their last respects.
The mourners included Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf and government peace
negotiator Farid Husain.
He was taken to the house of the head of the Aceh Legislative Council, Hasbi
Abdullah, a close relative, before being taken to the main Baiturrakhman Mosque
for funeral prayers.
Thousands attended the prayers and accompanied him to his final resting place.
Thousands more lined parts of the road to the family burial ground in Meureu,
25 kilometers away.
Hasan Tiro, born to a prominent family in Tiro, Pidie district, in 1925, was
buried next to his grandfather, Tengku Cik di Tiro, an Indonesian national hero.
Hasan Tiro's condition had deteriorated rapidly on Wednesday night. He had been
breathing with the help of a respirator for the past 10 days.
The deputy director of the hospital, Andalas, said his heart had stopped three
times on Wednesday but doctors managed to resuscitate him. He finally succumbed
early on Thursday.
Hasan Tiro is survived by his wife, Dora, an American, and their only son,
Karim Tiro, who lives in the United States.
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