Banda Aceh after the 26 December 2004 Indian ocean earthquake and tsunami

On 26 December 2004 a magnitude 9.1-9.3 earthquake hit the northwest coast of Sumatra, followed by a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Banda Aceh was the nearest big city to the shore, which has suffered the most damage.

Tsunami in 2004 was not the first, which occurred in Banda Aceh. It had happened several times in the past, at that time, many survivors were saved from the disaster because of the old tradition, where stories about disasters were told across generations as the warning in life.

Unfortunately, this good habit seems to be forgotten because of the war conflict in Banda Aceh for long decades, which was the fight for Banda Aceh’s independence from Indonesia.

A new hope about the better future of Aceh began 15 Aug 2005, when Aceh Freedom Movement and Indonesian Republic finally agreed to sign a peace agreement since the conflict began in 4 December 1976. A peace agreement, which is widely known as the Memorandum of Understanding of Helsinki was realized after the tsunami.

Peace, however became a common starting point after two conflicts; war and disaster. Hence the people gathered together to offer happiness and an unlimited prayer of gratitude. Trust in Allah and trust in each other. Enthusiastically, the spirit to rebuild Banda Aceh was rising within Acehnese in order to be better than before.

More than 200.000 people became victims of the tsunami. The survivors can’t do nothing, but to keep their beloved one’s memory, pray for them, strengthen themselves, continuing their life and stay tawakkul (the Arabic word for the Islamic concept of reliance on God; or trusting in God’s plan).

The peace of Aceh province is also protected by sharia religious law to keep it as a Paradise on Earth.