Exiled Aceh leader returns

Thousands greet Hassan di Tiro on his return to Indonesia after nearly 30 years.

    Di Tiro lived in exiled in Sweden for nearly 30 years [AFP]

    "People have come from all over Aceh. They are happy to be here just to see [di Tiro] for that split minute. His heart has always  been in Aceh," Bakhtiar Abdullah, former GAM negotiator who was jailed by the Indonesians, said.

    "There are people who were very loyal to him who would die for him, and they have never seen him before. They are still loyal to him and they would do anything for him," Abdullah said.

    Emotional return

    Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen, reporting from Banda Aceh, the regional capital, said that thousands of people had gathered to welcome Di Tiro.

    "They have been crying for their leader, it's an amazing sight ... I have never seen so many people gathered here ... they are so happy," she said.

    "Di Tiro said he is on a social visit, but the government is nervous about his return. However, he is 83-years-old, he's a Swedish national, and I am not sure if he wants to permanently live here."
      
    Aceh rebels gave up their arms and separatist rebellion in 2005 under a power-sharing agreement with the Indonesian government.

    Di Tiro's declaration of independence from Indonesia in 1976 sparked the 30-year civil war.

    His's return comes a day after the man who helped broker the peace deal - Martti Ahtirsaari - won the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Di Tiro has been living in Sweden since late 1970's.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.