Repression memory from voting booth

Antusiasme warga Banda Aceh terhadap Prabowo-Sandi di Masjid Raya Baiturrahman. |Foto: Damar Fery (

In former conflict areas such as Aceh, people have a collective memory. The choice doesn’t rely only on changes in the future, but also the considerations of the past. The votes can be gained by a figure who is considered to have no historical burden.

“Not him (Joko Widodo) anymore. We want change. Change is good, the last was still like this too, we don’t know the others,” Aminah said, a resident of Pidie District, Aceh, to, Thursday 2 May 2019.

Aminah has contributed to turn around the fortune of Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in Pidie District, Aceh. Five years after winning the 2014 Presidential Election, Jokowi’s vote in Pidie dropped.

Based on KPU calculation results per May 21, 2019, the 1st candidate pair only gained 17,609 votes, which is 7.82 percent of the votes. Prabowo Subianto excelled far by gaining 207,264 votes.


Aminah still clearly remember the 20-day interrogation by the army when Aceh was designated as a Military Operation Area (DOM). At that time, the military attempted to figure out the existence of Abu Bakr, Aminah’s husband, one of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) combatants.

“Our family could not stand staying at home anymore. We took our husband to Medan, but then came a friend who divulged his identity. “My husband was taken away and no longer brought home,” she said while stumbling.

From such unlucky day, Aminah supported her eight children by herself. He sold rice, chili and oxen at little price.

Hope grew in mind when the Republic of Indonesia and GAM government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Helsinki, Finland in 2005. Jusuf Kalla (JK) who was Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, was considered the originator.

Not surprisingly, JK’s arrival in Pidie ahead of the 2014 Presidential Election was lively welcomed. Former GAM Defense Minister, Tengku Zakaria Saman who accompanied him at the time even lauded him.

The figure of a peacemaker in JK, combined with Jokowi, was considered by Aminah as having no historical burden. He welcomed the day with purpose. Wednesday morning, July 9, 2014, the choice for the Jokowi-JK pair was unbreakable.

Aminah hoped for change on a ballot. As the wife of former GAM member, she hopes that the economic improvement clause set out in the Helsinki MoU can be realized. Starting from the rehabilitation fund to the allocation of agricultural land and job security.

Aminah’s vote became part of Jokowi-JK’s victory in Pidie in the 2014 Presidential Election. The candidate pair number 02 won 93,308 votes, equivalent to 56.36 percent.

Besides Pidie, Jokowi-JK won in six other districts / cities. They earned a total of 913,309 votes in Aceh Province, which was equal to 45.61 percent. Meanwhile, Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Radjasa pair won in 16 districts / cities with a vote of 1,089,290.


Aminah assessed that no change has been made in the five years of Jokowi-JK’s ruling. Let alone giving justice to victims of war crimes, their lives cannot be lifted from the poverty line.

“Assistance (for) victims of conflict never arrived. It’s been 13 years. People just came for taking photos of houses. They asked my KTP (Identity Card), but housing assistance has never been given,” she said irritably.

Aminah decided to change her choice on April 27, 2019. For her, voting for Prabowo was not a fanatical choice, but was realistic.

Irmayani, who also kept the memory of military repression during the DOM in her head, voted for the same. According to her, Prabowo knew very well how bitter the condition of the people of Aceh at that time.

“She knew the suffering of Acehnese during the conflict. Why were we ignored? She knows the bitterness of Acehnese people, “she explained, Thursday, May 2, 2019.

Pemilih Jokowi yang berganti pilihan, Irmayani (kanan). | Foto: Damar Fery (

Although he had military background, Prabowo was considered not to have caused pain in Aceh. The reason is that the former Army Special Forces Kopassus has no longer served when the DOM took place.

Irmayani and Aminah considered the aggression against Aceh which had begun since the New Order was not Prabowo’s responsibility. The child of the national economic expert Soemitro Djojohadikusumo claimed that only a minor part of the defense political system.

“We believe that there will be no more (military repression),” Irmayani said.

Prabowo’s military background, which was considered unrelated to military repression during the DOM, was seen from Prabowo’s victory in Aceh in the 2014 presidential election. This year her vote rose sharply.

Based on the calculation of the General Election Commission (KPU) per May 21, 2019, the Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno pair was voted by 2,1918,214 voters in Aceh Province. Meanwhile, Joko Widodo-Ma’aruf Amin only gained 378,836 votes, which was less than 11 percent of the total votes of more than 2.4 million.

Sri Wahyuni, one of the voters in Pidie District, Acehnese voted for Prabowo due to their fuming with Jokowi’s policy. While carrying her child, she joked to have reliable information on the the smuggling of foreign workers to Indonesia.

“In Borneo foreigners (from) Asia are smuggled. We can’t work, even though we have a lot of people. Then unemployed people were given salary, we want the job. Not this and that gift. Jokowi also gave a lot of cards, only cards,” she said madly, Thursday, May 2, 2019.


According to Efendi Hasan, a political observer at Syiah Kuala University, Aceh, there are at least two reasons why Jokowi was unable to maintain the votes for the 2014 presidential election in Aceh.

First, Jokowi’s campaign promises have not been fulfilled. Promises to build a tunnel on Mount Geurutee that connects Banda Aceh with the area in the South West for example. Instead of making it happen, Jokowi built a 74 kilometer Banda Aceh-Sigli toll road section and inaugurated it four months before the 2019 Presidential Election.

“There is a leadership principle for the people of Aceh, that is, the leader must be honest. Words and deeds must match. In fact the promise (campaign) was not implemented. Mr. Jokowi should not construct the highway first, but the Geurutee tunnel first. That has been awaited, “he told in Banda Aceh, Friday, May 3, 2019.

The level of trust in Jokowi, he added, worsened when the perception grew in the head of the Aceh community that his government was unable to maintain Islam as the majority religion in Indonesia. General Chairperson of the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) Surya Paloh, who is one of Jokowi’s supporters, for example, mentioned that regions other than Aceh did not need religious-based regional regulations.

The decision of Ulema Ijtimak Volume II was also considered to play a role in controlling Prabowo’s surge in the Veranda of Mecca.

“This is the consequence of the information through mass media, the Acehnese watching television. The enthusiasm of the people who want change was high. (Therefore) Leaders must defend the religion. The Acehnese are smart. This is a social punishment for Pak Jokowi, “he said.



The drop in Jokowi’s votes in Aceh was realized by the Minister of Agrarian and Spatial Planning / Head of the National Land Agency (BPN), Sofyan Djalil. The results of the internal survey showed that Jokowi’s electability in Aceh was no more than 18 percent. In early April 2019, he tried to garner support for Jokowi-Ma’aruf in his native land.

“We need to give Jokowi’s opportunity to win in Aceh. I am convinced Insyallah from all surveys that he will be the President of Indonesia for the period 2019-2024, “he said at the Regina Hotel, Banda Aceh on Friday, April 5 2019 as quoted by Acehkini.

On that occasion, Sofyan disclosed various promises that Jokowi could give in the second period of his presidential term. Among other things related to the Special Autonomy Fund of Aceh (DOKA) which ended in 2027. According to Sofyan, Jokowi will fight for the extension of these funds with the House of Representatives (DPR).

In addition to Banda Aceh, Sofyan also visited Pidie to ward off hoaxes on Jokowi-Ma’aruf. He was accompanied by Regent of Pidie, Roni Ahmad (Abusyik) and Acehnese charismatic cleric led by Dayah Ummul Ayman Samalanga, Teungku H. Nuruzzahri Yahya or commonly called Waled NU. On Beureunuen field in Pidie District on Monday, April 8, 2019, Waled NU regretted various slanders that had befallen his teacher, Ma’aruf Amin.

“He is our parent, as Rais” The Executive Board of the Nahdlatul Ulama (PBNU), “said Waled NU who also served as the Aceh Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Rais Syuriah.

Meanwhile, Abusyik, who in 2014 helped Jokowi-JK won a majority votes in Pidie, said he was surprised by the people in his area who were easily consumed by hoaxes.

“The Acehnese have faith, but how come people have faith eaten by hoaxes? Where do they bring the Koran? Where do you want to take the book? This is what we can’t understand, “he told on Thursday, May 2, 2019.

Deputy Chairman of the Aceh Ulama Consultative Assembly (MPU), Faisal Ali, stated that hoaxes regarding the identity perceived by the Acehnese people had been planted for the past three years. The ullema and regional leaders campaign no longer changed the situation.

“The image has been already built. We at the level of the scholars were very difficult to change it. Finally we can turn a little by giving facts (about Jokowi-Ma’aruf), “he told

Jaring, id on Monday, April 29 2019.

An anthropologist from UIN Ar-Raniry, Aceh, Reza Idria is not surprised by the atmosphere of the city that is attached to the religious doctrine in Aceh. According to him, the game of political identity is not new in the Land of Rencong.

In the 2019 presidential election Prabowo’s side attacked the opponents with a narrative that called Jokowi’s anti-Islam, involving the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and the issue sided with the ethnic minorities. According to Reza, the allegations addressed to Jokowi were part of the opponent’s political strategy to cover up his own shortcomings.

“If we look at the United States. This dominant political narrative is taken by the blue print, which is attacking what we ourselves do not have. For me, Prabowo’s team is insecure with its own Islam, so he must attack first that the one next to him is not Islam, “he said on Wednesday, May 1, 2019.

Reza assessed that the Jokowi campaign team had lost a step in counteracting the issues that were growing in the Acehnese growing community. The Harvard University Doctoral candidate revealed that “They (Jokowi’s team) don’t work.”

One of the issues the incumbent can exploit was to use the Human Rights Court. Reza believes the issue is effective in turning the public trust in Jokowi. However, the President actually submitted various programs on the card and was busy refuting hoaxes.

“By not responding to the questions about the Human Rights Court, the people of Aceh will assume that there are other persons behind him (who are involved),” he concluded. (Damar Fery Ardiyan)

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