In 1945, following de facto independence from the Netherlands, a new Indonesia began the project of building a unified nation from a population comprised of more than 300 ethnolinguistic groups scattered across more than 17,000 islands. In Aceh, at the western tip of the country, many Acehnese perceived the new regime in Jakarta, on the island of Java, to be dominated by the ethnic Javanese. In 1976, the Free Aceh Movement launched an insurgency to secure independence from what it called a new imperialism, arguing the Javanese were simply replacing the Dutch. The struggle continued until the Boxing Day tsunami on December 26, 2004, which was triggered by an undersea earthquake off the coast of Aceh: approximately 170,000 people died. One year later, on December 27, 2005, the Free Aceh Movement officially disarmed (a former fighter is shown above) and disavowed its separatist agenda in exchange for substantial autonomy. The images here were taken the week before this event.