In 2004 an undersea earthquake in South Asia triggered massive tsunamis to hit Aceh, Indonesia causing horrendous damages. The tsunami also proved to be an impetus to peaceful resolution of the civil conflict that plagued Aceh for decades. Scrutiny from the international media and the need of international help forced the Indonesian government to resumed peace negotiations with the rebel leaders from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). A peace agreement was signed in Helsinki, Finland on August 2005 and paved the way for a general election which saw Irawandi Yusuf, a former separatist rebel with GAM being elected as governor in December 2006. Taken 4 years apart, these images not only highlight the changes that have taken place but are also a testimony of the Acehnese's freedom to live life as before in a environment free of conflict.

Captions for Images

In 2004 tsunamis hit Aceh, Indoneisa causing horrendous damages. These images are a testimony of the Acehnese's freedom to live life as before. Here, trees snapped like toothpicks as tsunami waves came cashing in with extreme force and speed.

2004. Between 150000 to 200000 people died from the impact of the waves. Most drowned but many died from being crushed by debris.

2004. An Acehnese woman stares into the space where her house once stood. An estimated of more than 66000 homes were swept away by the devastating waves.

2004. According to official reports, more than 500,000 people were displaced by the disaster. Few some, their entire extended family had died and had nowhere to seek shelter.

2004. Water sources were either destroyed or disrupted causing tens of thousands of IDPs (Internally Displace People) to live in harsh conditions.

2008. The men from an entire village push a newly constructed fishing vessel out to sea. International help has gone largely into rebuilding infrastructure and livelihoods.

2008. Stark reminders like this massive floating power plant in the background, swept inland by the waves, are kept as morbid makeshift museums for visitors.

2008. 4 Years on, Aceh’s central padang (field).

2004/2008. Shipping tankers and boats that were pushed in-land by the tsunami waves become silent monuments four years on.

2004/2008. The Baiturrahim Mosque which stands on the edge of the coast in Ulue Lee micraculously withstood the devastating waves. The image highlights the changes the site has gone through over 4 years.

2004/2008. Flags demarcate locations of victims.

2004/2008. Jalan Panglima Polim is one of the main streets leading into the heart of Banda Aceh. Reports claimed the entire street was submerged in water on 26 December 2004. The image highlights the changes the site has gone through over 4 years.

Copyright © Ernest Goh