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    Posted: 11-May-2007 at 08:06

I am very interested in the current ethnic divisions and the uprisings in Aceh. I know there is an insurgency against the indonesian government there, but i know barely anything about it.

Would someone please elaborate as to the ideals and identity of the independence movement there, what is their idealogy and and please go through a history of the warfare of Aceh.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-May-2007 at 16:16
 
These Acehnese were so tough to subdue that there is a monument in the Netherlands for the general ( Van Heutzsch ) who finally could early 1900's.
 
I dont know much about the Aceh conflict of last decades ( or now ) but its older history is intresting though.
 
What is now a large state Indonesia was usually a blanket of many independent of small and larger states, rivalling each other. In the 1700's and 1800's some of these states had been subdued by the Dutch while many resisted untill the 1900's . One of these states was the islamic sultanare of Aceh in north of Sumatra, Indonesia.
 
short history :
 
Aceh ( in older times called Samudra -Pasai ) became an Islamic sultanate in the 1200's because the ruler converted ( acording to the chronicles due contact with Persian traders ). They became strong propagaters themselves and from there islam expanded in the region, mostly by peaceful means. For example , the ruler of citystate Malacca ( in Malay peninsula ) across the straits, became muslim because he married a princess of the sultan of Pasai ( Acheh) in the 1400's . Others in this region followed but inspite bloodrelations, brotherhood ideals etc all these sultanates were often great rivals /enemies.
 
When the portugese came in the 1500's they managed to get some footholds in the Malacca straits region. In 1511 they had conquered the capital of Malacca sultanate ( 1511 ) in Malay peninsula and they also gained a foothold in Acheh. This proved to be short and in 1523 they were defeated and ousted by Achenese Sultan Ali Mughayat Syah.
 
In the 1600's Acheh grew dramitically in power. It became a well organized state and important islamic entre of learning . It had a strong organized army with a large fleet equipped with cannons etc. It also became the most important entrepot for muslim and other foreign traders. It was rather Acheh than the Portugese, that controlled the straits making Portugese Malacca decline in importance.
 
All this time Acheh and the Portugese were having countles battles in wich to protect their commercial interests . The portugese attempted to conquer Aceh several times but without succes.  The Achenese on their turn beseiged and bombed Portugese Malacca several times( see picture below ) but without desired result either.
 
 
Inspite all the wars with the Portugese, Aceh itself became an imperialist power in the region and conquered several sultanates in Sumatra and Malay peninsula up to southern Thailand .
 
Because of expansionist wars, its rival the Johor sultanate ( extreme south part of Malay peninsula) alliied with the Portuguese . Together they inflicted a defeat on Aceh in a naval battle ( A few years later the same Johor sultanate sided with the Dutch to defeat the Portugese in Malacca by which Malacca fell in Dutch hands in 1641 ). After this battle Aceh had lost its possesions in Malay peninsula but it kept an an independent and significant power.
 
Its interesting to note that Acheh had good contacts with the Ottomans. In fact, due to their common aversion against the Portugese, the Ottomans send weapons (guns and cannons ) to aid them. An intresting fact is that Acheh eventually produced cannons and guns as well and supplied others with it , for exampe the Sultan of the Maledives (Male ) who defeated the Portugese with cannons casted in Acheh.
 
In the 1800's the 2 main colonial powers in the region were the Dutch and The British . They signed a treaty (1824 ) in wich Aceh would fall in the Dutch influence sphere. 
 
Eventually, the first Aceh war war started in 1873 . The Dutch were defeated and several commanders ( like general Kohler ) were killed. Kolonel van Daalen made the Dutch army withdraw. ( see Van 't Veer , the Atjeh oorlog, 1980 )
 
The events were a great shock for the Netherlands, so everything had to be done to conquer it. The next year the Dutch started a new war and invaded the place (1874 ) with 10.000 soldiers. They captured the capital Banda Aceh (Kotaradja ) but this had been abonded the nights before and the war went on in the outer regions without much result for the Dutch. Little more than 50 square kilometer was controlled. ( Van 't veer 1980)
 
Around 1900, after some 30 years of costly wars, the state of Aceh had still not surrendered and Dutch control was limited to a few coastal cities. Now the 4 th Acehwar (1898-1910 ) started. The new Dutch general  Van Heutzsch had a new "strategy" . Part of it was random killing of civillians, including children and women ( Van 't Veer , 1980 ).
 
The  "Van Heutsch method " combined with the capturing of some guerilla leaders finally worked. The reigning Sultan Tuanka Daud Shah gave in. In 1903 he signed the treaty by which it would be loyal to the Dutch Crown.
 
Several guerilla groups did not agree with this treatyand some resistance continued untill World War II making Aceh a region which was only partly pacified.
 
The war endured some 4 decades, costed some 10.000 Dutch lives , more than 100.000 Achinese, big part civillians ( ibid ). Ironically, 40 years of war were needed to make it Dutch possesion for about the same duration.
 
references :
 
Paul van 't Veer, De Atjeh-oorlog, De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam, 1980.
 
 
 


Edited by Sander - 10-Oct-2008 at 22:55
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-May-2007 at 07:56
interesting stuff, thanks.
 
could you elaborate on their relationship with the ottomans, i had no idea that the ottomans had relations with such a distant nation when the ottomans were hardly concerned with colonialism.
 
any info on the independence movement of aceh would also be appreciated.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-May-2007 at 17:29
Well.. there some experts on Acheh history and especially the 20 and 21 th century conflicts. Anthony Reid is one of them. Some articles, books are available in libraries and relevant institutes.
 
I recently read a few papers from  historians but they cannot be published here. But a short summary  is easy:
 
Aceh was not a Turkish colony or - as a few have put it - ' the most eastern expansion of Ottomans' . Its was not conquered territory, nor were there ever hostilities. That Acheh was "Ottoman alllied' and - to some extent- a loose semi-protectorate was on initiative of the Achenese themselves ( exactly what the Turkish and other sources indicate )
 
There are various factors to be studied to understand the relation and the mutual interests. Islamic brotherhood ideals (duty of the Caliph as protector of all Muslims , Acheh s fanatic fights against 'infidels' , it promotion of Islam in the region etc ) might have played a role but commercial factors did as well
 
Period before diplomatic relations
 
Towards the 1500's Acheh had become a very important port and one of the most important suppliers of pepper and other valuble products in those days. It traded with the middle east, ( Red sea, Egypt , Aden etc ) and the Portugese, dominating much of the" Indian ocean trade " were very enthousiastic in attacking Acenese cargo ships ( and pelgrim voyages ) to the middle east .
 
In 1511 the Portugese captured capital of Malacca sultanate ( not part of Acheh and rather a great rival of Aceh ) . In 1521 the Portugese also established foothold at Pasai ( wich was Achenese territory ). 2 years later the Achenese defeated and ousted the Portugese. For the next 100 years Portugese and Achenese struggled to dominate the Malacca straits .
 
The Portugese were ofcourse a great naval power in the 1500's. They were a signficant threat for Aceh and its commercial interests . Therefore, the Acehnese were looking for good allies( Portugese themselve did the same thing by seeking alliances with Siam and other rivals of the Achenese ) .
 
The Achenese turned towards the Ottomans. Not strange because the Ottomans was the most powerful islamic state and it was there where the Caliph ( the protector of all Muslims on earth ) resided. That the Ottomans and Portugese were enemies, was of great importance as well.
 
When Acheh turned towards the Ottomans in the 1500's s, the Ottomans had already expanded , controlled much of middle east and were trying to expand in the Indian ocean, bringing them there in conflict with the Portugese. In most of these battles the Portugese had the upperhand and also their control on the maritime trading network kept strong.
 
first official envoys
 
In 1547 , the first Achinese envoy reached the Ottomans with all kind of gifts ( pepper, rare animals, gold etc )and request for weapons.
In 1566 in a letter from Acheh sultan Alladin to Ottoman sultan Selim II was presented by Achinese ambassador Husiyen Effendi (Achenese used islamic/ Arab titles/names but often used Turkified forms as well ). The envoy was warmly recieved . In the letter , the Achinese sultan told that the cannoneers, cannons had safely arrived and how dear the cannoneers had become to him. The Achenese sultan said that Acheh viewed itself as part of Ottoman empire. Furthermore , the letter contained great complaints about the Portugese infidels robbing and killing muslims etc.
 
In 1567 Sultan Selim II sends a letter to Aceh , stressing that its the Caliph's duty to accept the requests of Muslim rulers when they need aid in fighting against 'infidels'. He mentions how he will send a fleet and that his troops (added to Achenese troops ofcourse ) have the duty to destroy the fortresses of the Portugese infidels there. He stresses that the Turkish troops, admiral etc will be under command of the Achenese sultan and are punishable if they dont obey the orders of the Aceh sultan. He confirms that the Ottomans will always send troops to aid the Achinese in their fights against the " infidels".
 
Selim's II warm attitude towards the Achinese is further stressed by his lettres to the governours of Egypt, Yemen Yedda. Mecca etc that the ambassaor and all Achinese envoys should be assisted in all sort of ways , without need to inform the central government.
 
Records show that sultan Selim II was making real preparations for the operation and had appointed several admirals for this cause. Nevertheless, a rebellion in  Ottoman province Yemen required that the navy prepared to assist Acheh, was needed for this rebellion. Selim II explians this in a later lettre to Acheh and promised to send the expedition next year. The large operation was never carried out as planned, but nevertheless there was still significant assistance given by some supply of cannons, troops and advisors.
 
( Important note: Aceh did not accept things from Ottomans for free. The Achenese regularely supplied the Ottomans with pepper and other valuable goods.  ( B. N. Teensma, 1989 )
 
For most of the 1500's and 1600 's the Achinese were having countless battles against the Portugese, besieging the Malacca fortress and bombing Portugese ships wherever they could. ( this undermining of Portugals commercial activities was in the interest of Ottomans as well, of course ) Aceh grew to a signficant power in the region and was in the 1600' s able to cast and supply cannons to aid other islamic sultanates.
 
the 1800's and the attempt to renew the relations :
In the 1800's Aceh was still an independent sultanate. Dutch and Bristhis were very active though and they made a deal that Acheh could come in Dutch influence sphere. To prevent this  the Achenese wanted to renew /strenghten the relations with the ( now declined ) Ottoman empire and according to some sources the Achinese envoys requested official Ottoman protectorate status ( something they did not have )  .
 
The  pointed out to the long relations and the strong islamic character of Aceh. They mentioned how the sermons were read in name of the Caliph and the fact that they had carried the Ottoman flag ( or at least something strongly  based on it ) all along in the last centuries . They stressed how they were economically self sufficent and how the Achinese soldiers would fight for the Caliph as much as they would do for their own sultan.
 
The proposal was (eventually) seriously considered but after many discussions , the Ottomans prefered to keep good relations with the Dutch and British. So, although the ideal was that the Caliph was the protector of all muslims, the Ottomans did not gave them the requested formal protectorate status. In the end only a mild protest was made when the wars started a few years later.
 
As mentioned, this does not mean that Acheh was an easy prey for the Dutch . In the first wars they did beat the Dutch and it would take some 30 years before the reigning sultan surrended and even after that there was still resistance by fanatic guerillas.
 
concluding remarks
Apart from denying  requested offical protectorate status when the Achinese really needed it, we can see that during most of the periode, the relations between Ottomans and Acheh were sincere , respectful and friendly. Ottomans seems to have given considerable aid in the 1500's . When the Achense sultan(s) , in the 1500's said they considered themselve as part of the Ottoman empire and asked for more involvement in matters, the Ottomans, did not take advantage of it in any negative way. The initiative came from the Achenese and the wishes of the local sultan were respected, as can be seen that all Turks send to Aceh from whatever status were ordered to obey the commands of the local sultan there.
 
We have to keep in mind that much of the above is based on old Turkish documents (Otttoman archives) Now, most annals/chronciles ( and this counts for many nations) have some element of glorification of their own kingdom/empire, so its possible that some extra flavour is added in the sources. Achenese sources are important on the relations too ofcourse, and its only by careful comparison of all sources that a good picture can be gained. Nevertheless, on the whole, the different sources agree on most of the main events.
 
references and useful reading
 
Anthony Reid, The Turkish Connection" in "An Indonesian Frontier: Acehnese and other Histories of Sumatra" (Singapore 2005)
 
 B. N. Teensma, "An Unknown Portuguese Text on Sumatra from 1582", (Leiden 1989)


Edited by Sander - 23-May-2007 at 02:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2007 at 14:17
As a side note, the Acehense were the first nation in Indonesia to accept Orthodox Islam (900AD?).  This is in contrast to most Indonesian peoples who practiced  for many centuries a syncrestic religion combining Islam with amnistic and Hindu beliefs.  
 
As a result of their fast embrace Orthodox Islam, the Aechenese  are recorded as being long established in Mecca as religous scholars etc. 
This probably helped with their alliance with Ottoman Turkey.


Edited by Cryptic - 29-May-2007 at 21:13
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2007 at 13:54
Undoubtely Aceh 's more orthodox practicing faciliated the contacts. But I ve the idea that without beeing more strict some alliance might have been established as well.
 
This was not charity or a pure religious thing. Aceh was in a very good position to attack the  Portugese and weaken their position in the far east. So the alliance had benefits for Ottomans and Achenese.
 
I also once read  900's as date for Ache's adoption  of islam but I m not sure if that 's confirmed by historians. The adoption in the 1200's is.
 
There is solid proof that islam was known in Indonesia earlier than 1200's though.  There  also some old Islamic tombs on Java. Appearently a local muslim and one has a date from the 11 th century. But these were only a few individuals or at best a few communities. Islam became only wider spread much later.


Edited by Sander - 30-May-2007 at 14:05
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Restless Land Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Jun-2007 at 22:39
Hi All,

This is my first post but i've been reading this site for quite sometimes (especially the steppe forum).

I my self is half Athjeirs and very suprised to see a forum about my ancestors land.

In any case, i'm not an history expert but do love to read it. Maybe i can help giving my view on the current situation on Atjeh but much of it maybe loosely base on urban legend or unverified source.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2007 at 00:06
thanks sander, the extent of your knowledge on this topic is amazing. you said before that Aceh was the supreme power in south east asia in the 1600s, more powerful then the portuguese in fact. do you think they owe that period of supremacy to the ottomans and the assistance they provided?
 
restless land, please tell me all you know about the independence movement of aceh, what are their ideals and political orientation (communist, nationalist, islamist?), tell me what ethnic minorites exist in aceh and the history of this independence movement. how do you yourself feel about aceh and its future?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Restless Land Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2007 at 00:52
Most people in Indonesia regards Atjheirs as restless people, some of Indonesians respect them a lot and infact inspired by them while other see them as rebellious ethnic groups.

The rebellion take roots since Ducth collonialism and still continuing today (though politically).

Before hand please take note that i'm not a history expert and most of my knowledge came from elder people or friends

I personally think the Atjeh movement have very little to do with islamist but heavily on the nationalist side. There is one funny unverified stories that islamist fundementalist from Java tried to convert Atjeirs to make some kind of united islamic front to battle USA but in respond the Atjheirs told those people not to tell them what islam is and what islam are. Atjeh has been long regarded as the front door of Mecca

in the tsunami event, a lot of rebels die and this backward significantly the freedom movement. If i'm not mistaken a comprimise is reached in Helsinki that Atjeh rebels will put down their gun for an extensive autonomy. Again if i'm not mistaken the current governor of Atjeh is a former Rebel officer.

Please take note that i've heard a lot of massacre in Atjeh done by either the military or the rebels. But as many Atjehirs recount, most of them are done by military.

I myself is a universalis, but i do know that my ancestors land had seen many people die in atjeh, at some point almost extinc (Massacre and Tsunami)

Most minorities in Atjeh is related to west sumatrans or north sumatrans ethnic groups. One elder said to me that Atjeirs consist of mixture of many ethnic groups. They said that ACEH was an acronim for Arabs,Chinese,European and Hindustani. I myself see atjeh people from dark negroid feature to Caucasoid one. But all in the same tribe. Some look like dravidian in southern india while other look like chinese. Most minorities probably include indonesian ancestry origin. this is true in southern part of atjeh. At some time ago if i'm not mistaken, after the Helsinki - the sothern part make a delegation to Jakarta wanting to make a seperate province (this is all minority with indonesian origin or ancestry) but were neglected by Jakarta.

I'm sorry if i'm saying anything without any citation, i'll try next time - along the way please correct any of my assertion if i'm wrong
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Restless Land Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2007 at 01:19
Originally posted by Sander Sander wrote:

Undoubtely Aceh 's more orthodox practicing faciliated the contacts. But I ve the idea that without beeing more strict some alliance might have been established as well.



100% Agree!, Fretilin (East Timor), RMS (Moluccas), GPM (Papua) were heavily aided by foreign contry (i cannot verified this one, but it's an open secret) while Atjheirs saw very little help. Actually the orthodox roots only applied on some part of atjeh. Many part are also liberal in some way. My father village was a mixture of chinese and atjheirs, and all those chinese friends of my father regard themselve as atjheirs and speak atjeh language. They live along together and see themselve as one single entity. But i also konw that in other part there were news of minority intolerance
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2007 at 17:59
Originally posted by kurt kurt wrote:

thanks sander, the extent of your knowledge on this topic is amazing. you said before that Aceh was the supreme power in south east asia in the 1600s, more powerful then the portuguese in fact. do you think they owe that period of supremacy to the ottomans and the assistance they provided?  
 
Well..Not more powerful than Portugese perse but rather more dominating the Malacca straits.  
 
Originally posted by sander sander wrote:

When the portugese came in the 1500's they managed to get some footholds in the Malacca straits region. In 1511 they had conquered the capital of Malacca sultanate ( 1511 ) in Malay peninsula and they also gained a foothold in Acheh. This proved to be short and in 1523 they were defeated and ousted by Achenese Sultan Ali Mughayat Syah.
 
In the 1600's Acheh grew dramitically in power. It became a well organized state and important islamic entre of learning . It had a strong organized army with a large fleet equipped with cannons etc. It also became the most important entrepot for muslim and other foreign traders. It was rather Acheh than the Portugese, that controlled the straits making Portugese Malacca decline in importance.
 
So. Aceh ousted the Portuguese from sumatra but the Portugese kept a base on the other side of the Malacca straits( Malacca) . Nevetheless, this fortress and their fleets were under constant siege of the Acehnese , greatly undermining and damaging Portugese commercial activites there. Next to this, Acheh's port could take over  Portugese Malacca nr. 1 position as most important regional port of call for foreign traders. So when speaking about Acheh dominance over the Portugese, its to be understood in this context and limited to the Malacca straits.
 
The Aceh people were the main factor behind their succes ofcourse. The alliance and the fact they recieved /bought weapons  from  the Ottomans in the 1500's was a factor that contributed to it. 
 


Edited by Sander - 04-Jun-2007 at 18:36
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mil_Spec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Jun-2007 at 08:42
I have heard the same story that Sander explained in deep detail when I was in Kuala Lumpur between 1993-1998. In 1996, during one of the receptions at the Turkish Embassy, I was told that a few people arrived at the gate of the Embassy at Jalan U-Thant and claimed that they were escaping from the Indonesian armed forces suppressing the Aceh insurgency and actually they were the grand sons of Turks. When the guard started laughing about this claim they produced a very very old Ottoman Navy flag to prove their identity. This was the first time I was aware of Ottoman - Aceh link. I digged out the history stuff and found out exactly what Sander summarized in his notes. Many thanks to Sander for his crisp and detailed summary.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jun-2007 at 06:42
hang on a second - turks in Aceh? how the hell did turks, of all people, get there? Did the ottomans send turkmen there like they did when they conquered the balkans? Did turkish tribes migrate of their own accord? This turkish factor in acehnese history is coming as a revelation to me ...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mil_Spec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jun-2007 at 07:02

Well, apparently you were not aware that the founding father of the Ottoman Empire was a Turk.

Osman Beg, son of Ertugrul Beg, was a member of a Turkish tribe called Kayi tribe. Therefore, when there is a talk about Ottoman presence, this automatically implies Turkish presence.
 
When the Ottoman Navy came to help the Malays against the Porteguese, they settled also in the south of Malaysian peninsula (today's Johor), north of Java, west of Kalimantan (today's Borneo) in addition to north of Sumatra (today's Aceh). As you may imagine, all of them were young sailers away from home for several years. Quite naturally, they ended up with marriages with the locals. Their grand-grand children are still living in this geography.
 
Besides, third PM of Malaysia late Tun Hussein bin Onn had been proud to have a Turkish-Malay mother. He was born in Johor in 1922. You can read more about this under http://www.primeministersofmalaysia.net/3.php
 
Also, you can get more information on Turkish presence, or, Ottoman presence as you prefer, in the Pacific Rim from Topkapi Palace archives in Istanbul. They are open to researchers from all over the World.


Edited by Mil_Spec - 26-Jun-2007 at 07:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Jun-2007 at 08:37
Originally posted by Mil_Spec Mil_Spec wrote:

Well, apparently you were not aware that the founding father of the Ottoman Empire was a Turk.

Osman Beg, son of Ertugrul Beg, was a member of a Turkish tribe called Kayi tribe. Therefore, when there is a talk about Ottoman presence, this automatically implies Turkish presence.
 
I am well aware of the turkic origins of the Osmanli State, however, this does not correlate such that every region in which there was Ottoman rule there exists a turkic population. How many turks are there in Algeria, Tunisia, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, or some of the other 40 or so countries which now exist in former Ottoman territory? Besides which, typical turkic migration via steppe wars could not have occured considering the island of Java is indeed an island, which is why i was so perplexed. Nor was i aware that the Ottomans actually colonized any land, so i assumed that turkic populations would not have Ottoman origin. Nontheless, thanks for informing me.
 
By the way, i went to Topkapi palace last ecember. I just hope i can go to Dolmabahce palace too sometime in the future.
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Lela Replica Lela Rentaka And Lada Sicupak Canon

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mil_Spec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Aug-2007 at 13:58
Thank you very much HangPC2. These are great. Excellent documentation on the links among Turks, Acehnese and Malaysians. Where did you get these from?
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Joined: 01-Sep-2005
Location: Malaysia
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Points: 8
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HangPC2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Aug-2007 at 23:53
Originally posted by Mil_Spec Mil_Spec wrote:

Thank you very much HangPC2. These are great. Excellent documentation on the links among Turks, Acehnese and Malaysians. Where did you get these from?


Sources : -

http://www.e-aceh-nias.org
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