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Autonomy and Armed Separatism in South and Southeast Asia

Michelle Ann Miller

Publication Year: 2012

Armed separatist insurgencies have created a real dilemma for many national governments of how much freedom to grant aggrieved minorities without releasing territorial sovereignty over the nation-state. This book examines different approaches that have been taken by seven states in South and Southeast Asia to try and resolve this dilemma through various offers of autonomy. Providing new insights into the conditions under which autonomy arrangements exacerbate or alleviate the problem of armed separatism, this comprehensive book includes in-depth analysis of the circumstances that lead men and women to take up arms in an effort to remove themselves from the state’s borders by creating their own independent polity.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix

I am grateful to the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, which made possible the “International Workshop on Autonomy and Armed Separatism in South and Southeast Asia” that led to the production of this book. The project also benefited from the financial and logistical...

About the Contributors

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pp. x-xiii

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1. The Problem of Armed Separatism: Is Autonomy the Answer?

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pp. 1-15

Over recent decades a number of states in South and Southeast Asia have been troubled by armed separatist movements that have sought to create their own independent polity via physical separation from the parent state. Various forms of autonomy have been promoted by policy-makers and...

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2. Mediated Constitutionality as a Solution to Separatism

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pp. 16-35

The idea of autonomy or other forms of sovereign devolution has been proposed as a viable compromise model in the resolution of claims to separatism. This chapter will consider the meaning and method of application of autonomy or other sub-state political models, and assess whether a...

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3. Self-Governance as a Framework for Conflict Resolution in Aceh

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pp. 36-58

The signing of an historic peace agreement on 15 August 2005 in Helsinki by the Indonesian government and the armed separatist Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Acheh Merdeka, GAM) brought an end to one of the most enduring armed separatist conflicts in Asia. This agreement was strengthened by the...

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4. Autonomy and Armed Separatism in Papua: Why the Cendrawasih continues to fear the Garuda

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pp. 59-76

Indonesian leaders are fond of referring to Papua’s incorporation into their Republic as one of re-integration, colloquially known as kembali ke Ibu Pertiwi, or return to the Motherland. The term “reintegration” is designed to highlight that even though the territory was already “integrated” into...

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5. The Parallels and the Paradox of Timor-Leste and Western Sahara

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pp. 77-92

This chapter is, via a comparison of the problems of Timor-Leste and Western Sahara, aimed at revealing the relevant experiences of the two cases that can be contextualized into efforts to understand contemporary problems of armed separatist movements. Resorting to this comparison rather than depending on...

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6. Between Violence and Negotiation: Rethinking the Indonesian Occupation and the East Timorese Resistance

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pp. 93-112

At first glance East Timor appears to be an awkward fit in a volume on armed separatism and autonomy. The reasons for this are quite straightforward, one stemming from the definition of separatism, the other reflecting the ultimate outcome of the conflict. The Indonesian invasion of East Timor in...

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7. Struggle Over Space in Myanmar: Expanding State Territoriality after the Kachin Ceasefire

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pp. 113-135

In the context of the Union of Myanmar/Burma, the application of several concepts that are suggestive of autonomy for ethnic minority regions can be misleading for the wider international community. In Myanmar, “union” reads as “unitary”, illegitimate can be treated as “legal”, and “legal” may...

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8. Sri Lanka's Ethnic Conflict: The Autonomy-Separation Dialectic

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pp. 136-161

Do government offers for autonomy reduce the momentum for secession in a context of protracted civil war? Or, do incomplete autonomy measures provide new encouragement to secessionist projects? How can an autonomy solution be realistically feasible when the state emerges victorious in a...

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9. Unitarianism, Separatism and Federalism: Competing Goals and Problems of Compromise in Sri Lanka

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pp. 162-176

Negotiating peace in an armed separatist conflict centres on finding an autonomy solution under which ethnic contestants are granted wide-ranging powers to control their affairs within an ethnically defined region (Lapidoth 1996; Ghai 2000). For both the state and the separatists, such a solution...

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10. Autonomy and Armed Separatism in Jammu and Kashmir

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pp. 177-195

The craving for autonomy in the Indian federal unit (hereafter called the “State”) of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has as much to do with the special circumstances in which the State acceded to the Indian union, as to the alleged manner in which the autonomy provided by the latter’s constitution to the...

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11. Armed Conflicts and Movements for Autonomy in India's Northeast

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pp. 196-216

The little known North East region of India, which comprises seven federal units (referred to hereafter as “states”) and connects to the Indian mainland by a narrow 22 kilometre land corridor, has been a theatre of prolonged armed conflicts. Beginning with India’s independence in 1947, several armed...

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12. Southern Thailand: The Trouble with Autonomy

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pp. 217-234

To the casual observer, the Southern Thai conflict looks like a classic case of autonomy waiting to happen. A minority population is conveniently located close to one of the country’s borders; and assimilation policies have been incompletely successful, leaving residues of bitterness, resentment and...

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13. The Last Holdout of an Integrated State: A Century of Resistance to State Penetration in Southern Thailand

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pp. 235-255

Similar to other countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand has been affected by internal conflicts for much of the post-colonial era. The resurgence of violence in southern Thailand is the latest episode of an ongoing centre-periphery conflict that has its roots in the consolidation of the Thai state beginning...

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14. Interlocking Autonomy: Manila and Muslim Mindanao

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pp. 256-277

For more than thirty years there have been a variety of “autonomous governments” in areas of Mindanao. Over the course of six national administrations, numerous regional administrations, and varying intensities of separatist armed conflict, there is general agreement that “autonomy” has not resolved...

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15. History, Demography and Factionalism: Obstacles to Conflict Resolution through Autonomy in the Southern Philippines

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pp. 278-295

The conflict between the government of the Philippines and the Moro separatists in the southern Philippines has become one of the longest running, and most intractable, internal conflicts in Southeast Asia. This is so despite attempts by successive Philippine governments to negotiate some form of...

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16. Conclusion

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pp. 296-304

The path to peace and away from armed separatist conflict is never a smooth or linear process. Intense or protracted periods of fighting tend to squeeze out the political middle ground where support for negotiated settlements is most strongly situated. Even when the warring parties agree to participate...


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pp. 305-329

E-ISBN-13: 9789814379984
Print-ISBN-13: 9789814379977

Page Count: 329
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1