Monday, October 10, 2005



It was the largest quake in the world since 1964.
Aceh, a region normally sealed off to foreign media and aid agencies due to a long-running separatist conflict.
Aceh bore the brunt of the killer sea surges, wiping out many coastal villages and leaving more than 231,000 people dead or missing, and some 400,000 homeless.

There was:
Muharram M. Nur (photo 01), in his early 40s was a journalist for local paper in capital Banda Aceh and non-contract stringer for AP. On apocalyptic Sunday Dec 26 Muharram was at home with his wife and two children. When he felt tremors of earth quake he rushed out to the streets of Banda Aceh to see damage and report. Wife, Maisyarah, and kids stayed at home. At 8.10 am, he call on his mobile phone AP in Jakarta and reported that earth quake struck Banda Aceh and there are damage, he was rushing to nearby Banda Aceh jail (photo 02), as it looks jail, with its inmates, was collapsed. Muharamm was seen, by chief of his residential district, in front of jail he started taking photos, when chief of his residential district, who was riding motorbike in full speed, shouted to Muharram "panji, panji" (water) a big wave was coming. Muharram was still taking photos and holding his mobile phone. AP Jakarta try to call him back at 8.20 am, Muharram mobile phone was dead. The tsunami wave at place were Muharram was at time come from two direction and as high as 5-10 meters. Muharram body was never found. The wife, Maisyarah, who stayed at home survive tsunami, two kids didn’t, and the younger daughter was swept out of mothers arm by tsunami wave. And the bodies of two children was newer found. Muharram wife, Maistarah (ph.03), survived ride on tsunami wave and was found with broken leg, next day. She was taken to hospital were physical injuries healed in coming weeks. The trauma of loosing husband and two children needed professional help as she don' t spoke to any one for 5 weeks. The family house is gone. Widow Maisyarah M. Nur, now in her early forties, will never again comeback to live in Banda Aceh and she is staying with her brother family 300 km south east of Banda Aceh.

There was:
Cut Nurasyikin (ph. 04), 50 year, mother of 3, and businesswomen from wealthy family in Banda Aceh who was managing family hotel "RAJAWALI" (Eagle) in tsunami hard hit Lampolloo district of Banda Aceh (ph 06). Cut Nurasyikin was a women activist who was working to empower Aceh women, and on tsunami day was prisoner in Banda Aceh jail. Cut Nurasyikin was arrested by security force after May 2003 all out military offensive in Aceh province and was charged for treason. Prosecutor presented evidence in Banda Aceh District Court: a speech she delivered to a gathering organized by the Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA) on November 9, 1999. Cut denied treason charge saying she had campaigned for a referendum as part of efforts to settle the prolonged conflict in the province.
"A referendum is demanded by the Acehnese to end the conflict,”
Cut Nurasyikin was sentenced 11 years. On apocalyptic day of Dec 26 jail was destroyed by earthquake and 20 min after tsunami wave swept everything away. Today jail is pile of rumble. Cut Nurasyikin was one of jails inmates who don't survive. One of her sisters died too on tsunami day; as she went to market to buy food; rest of family survived (ph 05).
On Dec 24 Cut made a call from jail to a friend, in Banda Aceh, on here mobile phone telling him that soon Aceh is going to reach freedom (merdeka) as foreigners will come and help Aceh. The friend told her "Cut you are dreaming”, Cut answer was: When you sit in jail you have right to dream about future.
Today many people in Aceh say that Cut Nurasyikin deserve to be name as national heroine of Aceh.

There was:
Iliyas, a 38-year educator, the teacher of English language, co -fonder of Harvard English School in Banda Aceh (ph 07). Who after finishing his education in US come back to Aceh with dedication to empower youth of "backward" (as Iliyas use to call it) province of Aceh to speak English and come in touch with outside world. Iliyas was teacher at school and administrator. It was not easy task in province, which was in last 30 years most of time under military rule, where, in oil producing province, poverty was rampant and student struggled to find money for school fee. And Iliays was not pushing hard to collect a school fee. Education standard at Harvard English school matched international level, and motto of the school was LET THERE BE LIGTH. Same years ago Iliyas was call to Governor of Aceh residence and ask to give private English lesson at residence to Governors wife. He rejected telling that Harvard English school is open for every one to enroll in school but no private lesson at homes, as standard have to be keep.
Iliyas lived with wife and two children in rented house on Blong Oy , Punge Jurong Lr. I.
Two months prior to catastrophic Dec 26
Iliays agree with other co fonder to expand school operation and find professional to run the school administration. That can give Iliyas respite from the school, and he can take easy and persuade upgrading his professional skills abroad. One idea what catch Iliyas attention was to go to institute in UK and study peace education. Iliyas was supposed to do it in New Year.
On Sunday of Dec 26 Iliyas was at home with wife and children. All died that apocalyptic day. What was left of rented house at Blong Oy, Punge Jurong Lr I, is only concrete floor (ph.08).
Many of students who survived tsunami today are employed, due to their English language skills, by international organization and foreign NGO now based in Aceh and working in relief operation.
Let there be light over Aceh, as was motto of Harvard English school.

There was:
Ahmad M. Jamil, 52-year fish seller at Banda Aceh fish market (ph 09), merry and father of seven. Who was for over 10 year buying fish from Lampuloo fisherman and selling fish at fish market in down town Banda Aceh. Mr. Jamil was a good trader and with income from fish market he opened a cafeteria, selling drinks and snacks, on police compound in one of Banda Aceh district. The wife and 21-year daughter Rosmiati managed cafeteria. On apocalyptic day Sunday Dec 26 Mr. Jamil was still home at costal district of Siyah Kuala with wife and 5 children, 21 year daughter Rosmiati was gone to open cafeteria and se here fiancé, as wedding was plane for beginning of next year, the 19 year daughter was merry and was with her husband in nearby house. Mr.Jamil house was not damaged by earthquake, tremor was filled. Short time after the tremor he hear a noise of people who rushed to shore to collect fish mysteriously swept at Siyah Kuala shore. He was preparing to go to Lampuloo fish port and it was easy going Sunday. Mr. Jamil house on the Siyah Kuala shore was hit by huge tsunami wave and Mr. Jamil was swept, and separated from his family members, by tsunami wave (ph11). Next he knows he was found on fence of mosque in Dharusalum area, 6 km from his home. No family members around. He was cut all over his body. There were many dead bodies around. Passing policemen took him and 20 other survivors to high water tower in area, as no one know if other wave is coming. His wound was treated. Second day he took to refugee camp, and there was no news of his family. For 3 days he was looking around refugee camps for family members on 5 day he found 11 son Tamlikha, and Mr. Jamil brother located surviving 14y son M.Anas. Later on 5 day 21 y daughter Rosmiati was reunited with father and 2 brothers. Rosmiati has a bad news too; her fiancé policeman died in tsunami wave, and married 19-year sister died tougher with her husband. What was family of seven children now is only father Ahmad M. Jamil and a daughter Rosmiati and two sons Tamlikha and M. Anas who attend school at refuge camp in Samahani village (ph.12).
Ahmad M. Jamil is willing to come back to shore of Siyah Kuala and live near the sea.
His 30-year colleague fish seller Bustamam , resident of Ulee Ulheuy district, does not survive (ph.13).

There was:
The 120-year-old Baiturrahman Mosque in Banda Aceh down town (ph.14). And is still there, with cracks on towers. Before apocalyptic day of Dec 26, every day on afternoon at mosque was Koran reading class (ph.15). Where about 1000 kids in age from 7 to 14 memorized Holy Book of Koran in Arabic. There were 150 Koran teachers. Till Feb. 10 2005 about 50 kids reported to Baiturrahman Mosque that there were survived Dec 26, of 150 teachers of Koran class 60 reported at they survived. Baiturrahman Mosque are preparing to reopen Koran reading class, as Malaysian government supplied Mosque with new Koran books.
Mr. Chairuddin (ph.16), 28 year old, was teacher at Baiturrahman Mosque, he survived apocalyptic day of Dec 26, as his residence in Banda Aceh Sibreng district was not affected by earthquake or tsunami, as it was deep in land. He, after Dec 26, took a job as announcer on radio station in Banda Aceh, and he is ready to teach at Koran reading class when it reopens.
25-year Koran reading class teacher Nur Najmi (ph 17) survived Dec 26. And last week she left to coastal town of Sigli with husband and one year old baby. Her husband, a fisherman, was looking for job as fisherman. She is ready to teach again at Mosque Koran reading class when it reopens
24 year old Rahmawati Dar( ph.18) was too a teacher at Koran reading class. She was originally from coastal town Sigli but resided in coastal part of Darusalum area of Banda Aceh. There is no info is she survived Dec 26 catastrophe.
35-year-old Nurmayati, was town of Lhokseumave, and was a teacher at Baiturrahman Mosque Koran reading class. No news if she survived apocalyptic day of Dec 26. No news too about 7 years old boy Raka, who was on left from teacher Nurmayati when the photo was taken 2 years ago. (ph.19)

There was:
A market beside Baiturrahman Mosque. Pasar Raja. There Ibu Radenmah, aka Anne,( ph.20) 80 years old vegetable seller, was offering, every day for last 20 years, fresh vegetables from her village Chok Lame, 20 km from Banda Aceh. On apocalyptic day of Dec 26, Anne was early on her stand on market (ph 21). At 7.57 am catastrophe begin unfolding. First was earthquake of magnitude 9, and 20 minutes later huge tsunami wave with mud and debris hit market. 80 years old Anne was badly injured, cuts on body and broken leg. She survived and was evacuated to hospital in Lanksa 400 km from Banda Aceh, were she is still under treatment.
Anne husband died 10 years ago, but family of 5 children and 20 grand children, (ph 22) wait at village of Chok Lame for her return. Anne will come to Pasar Raja when it reopens and sell Chok Lame vegetables as she was doing for over 20 years.

In front row of shops on Pasar Raja, there was shop selling gold, where Mr. Kamaruszaman, aka. Memet, (ph.23) 35 year old. He was selling gold at family shop started by his grand father. On Dec 26, Mr. Memet was, with whole family on pilgrimage to Mecca. Mr. Memet family is of Arabic origin and family regularly go for hajj to Mecca. Shop was partly damaged (ph 24), gold was store at gold dealer safe, losses of family business are not so big and damaged shop is under repair and will soon open for business.

There was:
Sex workers of Banda Aceh (ph 25), who almost disappeared from city in years 1999 and 2000 due to hard drive against them, from Islamist and on same point from Aceh rebels, GAM. And withdrew of majority of Indonesian troops after 1998 Suharto downfall, custom base was getting thin. Then cellar bar at Kuala Tripa hotel was closed, girls relocated to nearby island of Sabang. And what was hot bar of city become mushola, a Muslim praying place. Other places in city closed their operation, and beer was banned, as other alcoholic drinks. In beginning of 2001 government in Jakarta introduced Islamic shari'ah low in Aceh province. And troops start building up again in numbers, and sex workers start to be seen in saloons around military command and police barracks, despite introduction of Islamic shari'ah low.
It is not known how many sex workers operated in Banda Aceh before apocalyptic day of Dec 26. Same estimate guess that dead toll between sex workers during catastrophe on Sunday morning Dec 26 can go up till hundred, as there was holiday time and there was same beach parties with security personal involved.

There was:
Presence of troops (ph 26) (Indonesian Army-TNI, police with Brimob-police mobile brigade) in Aceh due military operation, which started as invasion from air, sea, and land in May 2003. In apocalypse of Dec 26 troops have heavy looses. There are estimate that say that as many as 20000 men, belonging to military and police lost life. Garrison, based on sea front, in Meulaboh, west Aceh, was swept away, as Brimob HQ in Banda Aceh, which was totally destroyed. The lost of military equipment is big too.

There was:
Abdul Azis, aka. Ajis, 36-year shoe repair (photo 27) who have a desk on Pasar Raja in down town Banda Aceh and who lived Kanju area, which was heavy, damaged. But Abdul Azis, his wife and 3 children survived apocalypse of Dec 26. House is gone with all they have. On Sunday 26 Abdul walked early to his shoe repair stand on Pasar Raja as family was invited 8 am to friends wedding, a bit far from coast and down town. Wife was supposed to drive 3 kids on motorbike 7,30 am to wedding party where Abdul will join them later. At 7.57 am earthquake-measuring 9 on Richter scale struck Banda Aceh. There was damage around Pasar Raja and down town Banda Aceh. Abdul run to wedding place, Neusu district of town, to see if his family was there. It was long run trough damaged Banda Aceh. Closer he comes to wedding place there was less damage. Abdul found wife and 3 kids all safe. Later he hears that huge wave swept Pasar Raja and home in Kanju was gone. Today Abdul Azis family live at refugee camp in TV Indonesia compound (photo 28). On corridor between two buildings they have 12-sqm spaces. Abdul Azis shoe repair stand on Pasar Raja was gone, house in Kanju was gone. And Abdul Azis is employed by International Red Cross as house keeper, and look toward future when he go to start shoe repair.

That was my role call of dead and survivors, people of Banda Aceh I knew and photographed during my visits in last 8 years.


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