Hasan di Tiro

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Tengku Hasan Muhammad di Tiro
Hasan Tiro.JPG
Nickname(s) Wali,[1] Hasan di Tiro
Born (1925-08-25)25 August 1925
Aceh, Dutch East Indies
Died 3 June 2010(2010-06-03) (aged 84)
Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Allegiance Free Aceh Movement (GAM)
Years of service 4 December 1976 – 27 December 2005
Rank Wali Neugara Acheh-Sumatra
Commands held National Acehnese Army
Battles/wars Insurgency in Aceh

Tengku Hasan Muhammad di Tiro (25 August 1925 – 3 June 2010), born Hasan Bin Leube Muhammad, was the founder of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), an organisation which attempted to separate Aceh from Indonesia from the 1970s. It surrendered its separatist goals and agreed to disarm as agreed to in the Helsinki peace deal of 2005. He was a descendant of Tengku Cik di Tiro on maternal side,[2] an Indonesian national hero who was killed fighting the Dutch in 1891.[3][4] In 2010 he obtained his Indonesian citizenship back shortly before his death.[5]


Coming from a prominent family,[6] from village of Tiro (Pidie Regency), di Tiro studied in Yogyakarta and fought against the Dutch during the Indonesian National Revolution. He then continued his studies in United States, where he did part-time work for Indonesian Mission to the United Nations. While a student in New York City in 1953, he declared himself the "foreign minister" of the rebellious Darul Islam movement,[7] which in Aceh was led by Daud Bereueh. Due to this action, he was immediately stripped of his Indonesian citizenship, causing him to be imprisoned for a few months on Ellis Island as an illegal alien.[7] The Darul Islam rebellion in Aceh itself ended in a peace deal in 1962.[8] Under the peace deal Aceh was granted nominal autonomy.[9]

Creating GAM[edit]

Di Tiro re-appeared in Aceh in 1974, where he applied for a pipeline contract in the new Mobil Oil gas plant to be built in Lhokseumawe area. He was outbid by Bechtel, in a tender process in which di Tiro thought the central government had too much control.[10] It has been claimed that, as result of this loss and the death of his brother due to what he considered to be deliberate neglect by a doctor of Javanese ethnicity, di Tiro began organising a separatist movement using his old Darul Islam contacts.

He declared his organisation as the Aceh Sumatra National Liberation Front, better known as the Free Aceh Movement ("Gerakan Aceh Merdeka") on 4 December 1976. Amongst its goals was the total independence of Aceh from Indonesia. Di Tiro chose independence as one of GAM's goals instead of autonomy due to his focus on Aceh's pre-colonial history as an independent state. The ASNLF was distinct from the former Darul Islam rebellion which sought to overthrow the secular Pancasila ideology of Indonesia and create a pan-Indonesian Islamic state based on sharia, if with a high degree of autonomy for Aceh within such a state. In his "Declaration of Independence", he questioned Indonesia's right to exist as it was a multi-cultural state based on the Dutch colonial empire and consisted of numerous prior states and multitudes of ethnicities with little else in common. As such, di Tiro believed that the Acehnese people should restore the pre-colonial state of Aceh and should be separate from the "fraudulent" state of Indonesia.[11]

Due to this new focus on Aceh's history and distinct ethnic identity, some of GAM's activities involved attacking transmigrants, particularly those who worked with the Indonesian army, in an effort to restore Acehnese land to Acehnese people. Ethnic Javanese transmigrants were among those most frequently taregetted, due to what were often their close links to the Indonesian army. GAM's principle military activities, however, involved guerrilla attacks against Indonesian soldiers and police.

In 1977, after leading a GAM attack in which an American engineer was killed and another American and South Korean engineer injured,[4][7] Hasan Tiro was hunted by Indonesian military. He was shot in the leg in a military ambush, and fled to Malaysia.[7][12]

Hasan Tiro was buried next to his grandfather, Teungku Chik di Tiro Muhammad Saman National Heroes Cemetery in Meure village.[13]

From 1980, di Tiro lived in Stockholm, Sweden and had Swedish citizenship.[3][14] For most of this period Zaini Abdullah, who became governor of Aceh in June 2012, was one of his closest Acehnese colleagues in Sweden. After the tsunami in December 2004, the GAM and the Indonesian government agreed to a peace treaty which was signed in Helsinki in August 2005. Under the terms of the peace treaty, which were accepted by GAM's political leadership and endorsed by di Tiro, expanded autonomy was to be provided for Aceh. Shortly afterwards, a new Law on the Governing of Aceh was passed by the national parliament in Jakarta to support the implementation of the peace treaty. In October 2008, after 30 years of exile, di Tiro returned to Aceh.[15][16]

During the course of the conflict, on three separate occasions the Indonesian government mistakenly declared that Hasan di Tiro had died.[17]

Return to Aceh[edit]

Hasan di Tiro returned to Aceh after 30 years of self-imposed exile on 11 October 2008. As a consequence of previous strokes, he was too frail to deliver his own speech at his welcome rally and did not play any active role in Aceh's ongoing political process at the time.[6] He stayed for two weeks before returning to Sweden.[18] A year later in October 2009 he again returned to Aceh [19] and stayed there until his death.[20] On 2 June 2010 he regained his Indonesian citizenship after living for years with a Swedish passport.[5] He died the following day of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome in a Banda Aceh hospital.[21]


  1. ^ Hasan Tiro hospitalized again (in Indonesian)
  2. ^ "http://savingmemoir.wordpress.com/tag/tgk-hasan-di-tiro/".  External link in |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Hasan Tiro visits Aceh's hero graves". The Jakarta Post. 10 December 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008. Sunday schedule was a visit to the grave of Tiro's ancestor Tengku Cik Di Tiro, a national hero 
  4. ^ a b Marianne Heiberg, Brendan O'Leary, and John Tirman, Editors. Terror, Insurgency, and State: Ending Protracted Conflicts (2007 ed.). p. 512. ISBN 978-0-8122-2029-2. 
  5. ^ a b Hasan Tiro an Indonesian citizen again (in Indonesian)
  6. ^ a b Williamson, Lucy (12 October 2008). "What role for returning Aceh rebel?". BBC News. Retrieved 12 October 2008. Hasan di Tiro has it all - nationalist credentials, 30 years of exile that have kept him apart from the new party politics. 
  7. ^ a b c d Kenneth Conboy. Kopassus: Inside Indonesia's Special Forces (16 November 2002 ed.). Equinox Publishing. p. 352. ISBN 979-95898-8-6. 
  8. ^ Cornelius van Dijk (Author). Rebellion under the Banner of Islam, the Darul Islam in Indonesia. (1981 ed.). Martinus Nijhoff. 
  9. ^ Michael L.Ross (2007). "Resources and Rebellion in Aceh , Indonesia" (PDF). The World Bank. Retrieved 11 October 2008. 
  10. ^ Nessen, William, “Aceh’s National Liberation Movement,” in Veranda of Violence ed. Anthony Reid (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2006), p. 184
  11. ^ http://acehnet.tripod.com/declare.htm
  12. ^ "Hasan di Tiro: Acehnese Terrorist". www.library.ohiou.edu. 19 December 1990. Retrieved 12 October 2008. An American worker was reportedly killed and another one wounded by stray bullets in the fighting between our forces and the Indonesian colonialist forces. This was the sort of thing that we have been trying to avoid for months 
  13. ^ Citizen Hasan di Tiro dies in ‘dignified end to conflict’
  14. ^ "Aceh's Gam separatists". BBC News. 24 January 2005. Retrieved 11 October 2008. 
  15. ^ "Exiled Aceh leader returns". aljazeera. 11 October 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008. 
  16. ^ "Aceh guerrilla leader flies home". BBC News. 11 October 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008. 
  17. ^ "HEAD OF STATE OF ACHEH-SUMATRA". asnlf. 2007. Retrieved 12 October 2008. 
  18. ^ Indonesia: Hasan Tiro returns to Sweden
  19. ^ Hasan Tiro arrives in Aceh (in Indonesian)
  20. ^ Hasan Tiro hospitalized (in Indonesian)
  21. ^ Aubrey Belford (3 June 2010). "Hasan di Tiro, Who Led Indonesia Rebels, Dies at 84". The New York Times. 

Further reading[edit]

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