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Investigative Journalism

Repression Memory from Voting Booth

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.

This article was made by JARING team. A collaboration reporting between JARING and Tirto on election issues in Indonesia.

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