Jum'at, 10 Rabiul Awwal 1444 H / 7 Oktober 2022

Who Was Suharto? (8)

When Habibie replaced Suharto and went to Aceh, Bantaqiah was then freed. Yet, this did not fit in some Suharto’s soldiers . For them, Bantaqiah was also the same as armed-gun Aceh groups that rejected Pancasila, so that his existence should be erased.

On Tuesday, 22nd July 1999, TNI troops consist of any units from army and Brimob founded tents around Beutong Ateuh mountains. Though local citizens were prejudiced, as experience taught if soldiers gathered, then people blood would be scattered, yet they could not do anything. Their worry became true. There was suddenly a shooting incident to native persons who were seeking ribs. One was injured and the other escaped. This terror surely made the citizens afraid.

In the following morning of Friday, 23rd July 1999, after dawn, TNI and Brimob had silently moved reaching the boarding school. They were applied with first fight apparatus: a full bulleted gun. At 08.00 AM, TNI and Brimob had been across the river nearly the boarding school. Using reason of seeking GAM, at 09.00 AM they burnt all the citizens homes which lied only 100 meters from east boarding school. An hour then, the troops began to move to the boarding school and they encircled all the area. They screamed and yelled to the borading school asking Tengku Bantaqiah came out to see them.

Before mid Friday prayer, all the students usually listened to Tengku Bantaqiah giving the lessons of Islam. Hearing the soldiers called his name, Tengku Bantaqiah then came with one of his students. The soldiers were impatient, they came into the boarding school and made all the students kneel along the river.

The troops asked Tengku Bantaqiah to give his gun. This made Tengku confused as he did not have any, except only hoes and chopping knife to garden their fields. The troops did not believe, and pointed out an antenna installed in the roof tops of boarding school as a device to get in touch with GAM. In fact it was just a common antenna to catch radio waves. “The soldier commander asked Usman, son of Bantaqiah, to take the antenna. Usman directly moved toward his house but then a soldier hit him in the head using gun.” Feri Kusuma wrote in Jubah Putih di Beutong Ateuh. Seeing his son fell down, Bantaqiah reflexly ran to help, but at only a sudden, the troops fired him and his son cruelly. The troops also fired the students and in just a second, 50 men died instantly. The injured students were taken to a truck the same as the alive ones. The truck then went to Takengon, Central Aceh, which lied in the jungle.

In the middle of the journey to Tekangon, the students were told to get off. They were asked to kneel down in the bank of a canyon. A student jumped to the canyon and disappeared, while the soldiers immediately fired toward the direction he got lost. The students left were not known until know, but some said they were killed and their body were thrown to the canyon.

In the evening, the soldiers told the citizens to bury the bodis in the boarding school. The women were concentrated in the mosque and they were banned to see the burial. The troops then destroy all the things in the boarding school, and after satisfied, they got back with some trucks, leaving the people who only could cry and pray.

After the tragedy, the people of Beutong Ateuh could only be silent. With all their possible efforts, the students—mostly women and children—rebuilt the school and continued the educating process there. Until now, the boarding school was never completely recovered. Until this time, none of the Tengku Bantaqiah massacre actors got in the court. They are still lingering. Beutong Ateuh was only one of million tragedies in Indonesia when Suharto powered. (continued)

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