Dr Jess Melvin and Dr Annie Pohlman at Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh. Photo by Jess Melvin and Annie Pohlman.

In 2005, in the wake of Aceh’s devastating tsunami, the Indonesian government signed the Helsinki Peace Agreement, drawing to a close a thirty-year conflict with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which sought independence for the province. That agreement committed the parties to establishing a truth and reconciliation commission, designed to examine the abuses that occurred during the conflict and offer restitution to its victims. But it was not until 2016 that the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission (KKR) was finally established, and this only occurred after constant agitation by activists and victims.

Over the past five years, the commission has travelled the province, taking testimonies from some 5,000 victims of human rights abuses, leading toward a final report that is set to be released this year. What will the report reveal about the patterns and experiences of violence during the conflict? Who perpetrated the violence and who were the main victims? What impact will the report have on Acehnese politics and society, and more broadly, on Indonesia?

In Talking Indonesia this week, new host Dr Jacqui Baker talks with historians Dr Jess Melvin from the University of Sydney and Dr Annie Pohlman at the University of Queensland. Dr Melvin and Dr Pohlman are among a group of activists and academics collaborating with the commission to produce the final report.

In 2022, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Jacqui Baker from Murdoch University, Dr Dave McRae from the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, and Tito Ambyo from RMIT.

Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via Apple Podcasts or listen via your favourite podcasting app.

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