In late March I reported on the murder of 2 TNI intelligence officers in Sawang, and the subsequent hunt for who most people thought was responsible: Nurdin Din Ismail, aka Din Minimi. Minimi is a former GAM separatist who, like many ex-combatants, doesn’t accept that the war is over between those in Aceh who were fighting to return it to a sultanate, and the Jakarta government, who proffered the 2005 Peace Accord shortly after the December 2004 tsunami wiped out over 160,000 Acehnese. Since first hearing of the murders in Sawang, we’ve been keeping an ear to the ground, and a few days ago learned from JMD staff and local media that Minimi has been tracked to Pante Bidari, Aeh Timur . . . which of course is the proposed site of our cocoa farmer improvement expansion. We get all the celebrities.
Apparently, Din Minimi has lost most of his former outlaw appeal with the local population, since he and his band of 23 not-so-merry thugs (with 5—count’em-- rifles between them) have managed to piss off just about every household across the district, with their looting and violent mussing-up and general lack of any former populist ideology. Although Junaidi reports that Minimi has been loudly critical of the current governor (and former GAM member) Zaini. This is not a new song that GA has sung; from the beginning of the Peace Accord there has been obvious favoritism paid to a few GAM higher-ups at the expense of most of the 10,000 foot soldiers, most of whom continue to live in extreme poverty with no employment prospects while a cadre of their ranking elite run the province and become even wealthier. In a way, this is smart of Jakarta: as in East Timor, through some skillful political wrangling, the central government can now say of its pesky outlying province: “Hey, don’t blame us—they’re killing themselves.”
Minimi has recently said that if he can speak with the current governor (whose nickname is “Four Eyes,” similar to what the Timorese called their former combatant-turned-Director of Defense Tau Matan Ruak, which means “Eyes in the Back of His Head”), he will personally surrender all his 5 (count’em) guns.
Local news outlet Okezone gve a more complete history of Minimi and the group, two of whom have since been captured and are singing like canaries, although not much new is revealed except that he’s holed up in Pante Bidari and probably did not receive the warmest of welcomes.
Okezone reports that the Director General of Criminal Investigation of the Aceh police, Sr. Nurfallah, told reporters on Saturday that if Minimi’s men surrender, “with open arms we will receive them and treat them well. It is good to surrender." Otherwise, “we will continue to pursue Din Minimi until whenever."
Which is probably not so long now, since secessionist ideology, understandable at the outset, has now given way to pure thuggery without much long-term planning, and although Aceh Timur is a close-knit community, it’s not a foolish one. Hopefully this guy will be out of Pante Bidari by the next cocoa growing season.