Aceh Governor speaks February 9, 2007Posted by elizabethwong in International, Note2Self, Readings, Southeast Asia.
Praengtip Daorueng has an extraordinary and very moving interview with Aceh’s first elected Governor Irwandi Yusuf, conducted during the first Governor elections there , now published by Malaysiakini.com. To read the whole piece in entirety, please click here.
Irwandi was one of the few GAM members who were able to survive the Tsunami of 2004, and later emerged as the representative of GAM during the implementation of the peace agreement.
“At 2am on that day, Cut Nurasyikin (a GAM activist who was sentenced for 11 years for anti-government activities) phoned me from her cell (in another prison in Aceh) to inform me that our force had attacked a military unit and killed three navy soldiers. Then she said something strange.
“Aceh will be free very soon,” she said. And she continued, “On 30 December, the US fleet will land in Aceh”. I thought she was a little groggy but she put it very firmly.
I woke up at 7am and opened my cell door. Still worried about Cut Nurasyikin, I contacted Sira (a pro-independence non-governmental organisation) to ask about her well-being. Suddenly I felt the ground shaking. I tried to stand straight but I couldn’t. Block B of the prison, where my cell was located, was where all GAM members were housed.
I ran to the guards who were stationed at the main door and asked them to open it and let us get to Block A in the front, but they refused. I tried to use my mobile phone to call home but could not get through. I heard the sound of a building collapsed. I felt the shaking – each time it lasted much longer.
I told others that a tsunami might be coming. Big quakes happened before in 1965 and 1985 (followed by tsunamis).
Later, there was a change of guards at 7.30am. Everyone was ordered to go back to our cells. I was still outside and saw the seagulls again.
Then I heard a rolling sound like a truck coming toward us. I told my friends to be calm. Suddenly someone shouted, “Seawater!”, and everybody ran. There was only a small door to the first block (Block A). The guard had closed and locked it. A lot of people were to die there.
I decided in a split second to run back and climbed up to the prayer room on the second floor. I saw the water level raised very quickly, smashing the ladders. Soon the water reached as high as my waist. I thought to myself, “It is the time to die”.”
(To read the whole piece in entirety, please click here)