Ban on rebel flag stirs ire in Indonesia

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — The governor of Indonesia’s semiautonomous Aceh region is protesting that national security forces have seized hundreds of flags of the former separatist movement.

Authorities confiscated the Free Aceh Movement’s red crescent-star flags from streets in North Aceh, Lhokseumawe and Nagan Raya districts. The move came following a statement from the local army that no flag but Indonesia’s national red-and-white one would be allowed.

Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah criticized the action Sunday, saying it was provocative and violated an agreement between the provincial and central governments.

The Free Aceh Movement waged a decades-long war seeking independence but made peace with the Jakarta government in exchange for more autonomy in 2005.

In March, Aceh passed a bylaw allowing use of the former rebels’ flag, but Jakarta rejected it as violating national law.

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