The Aceh Liberation Movement ( Indonesian : Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or Simplified GAM ) is a separatist movement from the Indonesian region of Aceh to Sumatra .

Aceh has a higher proportion of Muslims than the rest of Indonesia, the roots of the separatist movement are historical rather than religious. Aceh has never been, according to the Aceh Liberation Movement, under the formal control of the Netherlands, which for GAM is an outright annexation by Indonesia after independence.

The GAM was founded by a descendant of the last Sultan of Aceh on December 24, 1976, who declared Aceh’s independence. The beginnings of GAM guerrilla warfare against the Indonesian army ended in failure, the government of Indonesia thought to have finished in 1977 with the GAM. The group grew stronger in the 1980s, apparently with the help of Libya and Iran, and at that time had around 3,500 soldiers. In 1996 the Indonesian government once again announced the eradication of GAM, but it is not the case. Fighting continues until February 2005. At that time GAM and Indonesia began peace negotiations that led to a peace agreement.

On 27 December 2005 GAM announces the end of its military activities and its participation in the forthcoming elections in Aceh as part of a broad autonomy. The government in exile of Aceh however remains in activity and is based in Sweden.


  • Profile: Aceh’s GAM separatists  [ archive ] , BBC
  • Free Aceh (ASNLF)  [ archive ]
  • The Acheh Times  [ archive ]
  • Indonesia agrees Aceh peace deal  [ archive ] , BBC
  • Full text of the 2005 peace agreement  [ archive ] , BBC
  • Government in exile