The Proud History of a Devastated Land by the Tsunamis
Text: Jean Claude Pomonti
Photos: Voja Miladinovic
Preface: Andreas Harsono
Published by: (c) IRASEC, 2005 (www.irasec.com)
On December 26, 2004, the tsunami swept the coasts of the Indian Ocean and killed some 220,000 people. Over two thirds of the victims were from Aceh. This Indonesian province is by far the most devastated region; entire towns have been completely levelled.
The tragedy led to a flow of generosity that had never been experienced before. The arrival of emergency aid coming from America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, instantly brought the hitherto little known region in the limelight of world's attention.
The world discovered Aceh; a place where even tourists had been forbidden for years and where the army has been ruthlessly suppressing a separatist guerrilla for the last 25 years. The forgotten conflict killed tens of thousands.
But who are the Acehnese? In the past they offered a fierce resistance against the Dutch and Japanese invasions and today dare standing against the central Indonesian power? Among the rubble left by the disaster, Le Monde's former correspondent in South East Asia, Jean-Claude Pomonti and photographer Voja Miladinovic went back to Aceh one more time. There, they witnessed the consequences of the massive arrival of foreigners.
This book is based on testimonies collected over the last decade. It relates the history of a pious, proud and open-minded Muslims population that has been fighting to preserve its identity and find a place within the Indonesian Republic. The incomplete history.