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. 
Reuters/Oki Tiba

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 
native Aceh.

"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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