Defenders of the Homeland (PETA) (Indonesia)

Country: Indonesia
Details of Formation: The group’s name (Pembela Tanah Air, PETA) originated in World War II when local volunteers were trained by Japanese troops to resist Dutch reoccupation. The PGM is not related to the original PETA. PETA is used as a generic term for all anti-separatist organisations in Aceh. There are no details about its formation but the individual groups existed before the umbrella organisation. One source claims that PETA emerged in 2001.
Details of Termination: The group (apparently still backed by the military) is active today and represents a potential threat to Aceh’s stability and former GAM-fighters. It was not required to disarm and demobilise because the government did not officially acknowledge the group, resulting in its exclusion from the peace agreement. As a peace deal was successfully negotiated in 2005, there are no more fights, but PETA is still armed. One source reports that the group does not exist anymore in its original form.
Purpose: The pro-Jakarta/anti-separatist group was used to counter the GAM’s fight for the Aceh region’s independence from Indonesia (specifically in the highlands).
Organisation: PETA is an umbrella organization of eleven pro-Indonesian groups that fought the GAM during the conflict (pro-government organisations and village self-defence groups). The group does not have any hierarchical organization among the subgroups. These were backed by the Indonesian army. The government did not officially acknowledge the existence of the PGM.
Weapons and Training: According to a report, the group was armed and trained by the Indonesian military.
Size: --
Reason for Membership: Non-Acehnese members reportedly felt threatened by an alleged “colonisation” by the Acehnese of Indonesia’s hinterlands and a perceived growing Acehnese political and economic power. The group is also described as nationalist, which suggests that there were ideological motivations to join.
Treatment of Civilians: After the conflict was terminated and a peace agreement was in place, the group remained a potential spoiler of the peace as an actor that was not included in the agreement and thus continues to be armed and active. For instance, the PGM threatened and intimidated former GAM fighters coming back to their homes and was involved in violent clashes with independence supporters.
Other Information: A.k.a. Pembela Tanah Air (PETA). As a pro-Indonesian group, PETA fought against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) during the independence struggle. Its members are non-Achinese (smaller ethnic groups from the province’s mountainous interior regions and Javanese migrants) that feel threaten by Achinese majority.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.