Reporters on the Job

Family Before Politics: When correspondent Simon Montlake and photographer Andy Nelson visited Juariyah at her airy wooden home, she told him that across the dirt road is the garden patch of chilies she grew to support the rebels. It was there that she was arrested in 2005 by Indonesian soldiers hunting for separatist rebels.

"We sat cross-legged on straw mats on the floor, and talked about her life and how she became part of the female resistance to Indonesian rule," says Simon. "While we spoke, I glanced up at the wall where there were various framed family photos, including a handsome soldier with a mustache in combat fatigues. It puzzled me: Was this a GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or Free Aceh Movement) rebel in uniform?"

Simon learned that it was her uncle, an Indonesian soldier who was stationed elsewhere in Indonesia. When Juariyah was arrested, the soldiers roughly interrogated her, trying to get her to reveal where GAM operational details. But when word reached her uncle that she had been arrested, he left his post and came home to find her.

"She told me that he intervened, after she had been kicked and beaten by her interrogators," says Simon. "As we spoke, I glanced over at her other uncle, a loyal GAM member, who was at the interview. He smiled. I didn't get a chance to ask him about divided family political loyalties. But this is an example of how this conflict reached deep into Aceh society."

David Clark Scott
World editor

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.