Monday, May 30, 2011

From the Liu Institute of the UBC, Vancouver

From beautiful complex of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, during the two-day workshop on Historical Memory, I found interesting encounters;

"You are so lucky that you can still use your local dialect to express your feeling and thought. We lost mine, and forced to speak the language of the alien, English, French or Spanish..." The First Nations representative at the workshop shares with us their concern on the fact that their culture as an Aboriginal peoples of Canada has been eliminated.

A woman colleague from South Africa said to me, "TRC is still very far from successful. There are still so many unfinished businesses. More problems even more worrying than during the Apartheid regime". I believe this statement as very valid. She is working on the historical archives during and after the Apartheid.

In the morning of May 26, I congratulated a Croat colleague for the arrest of Bosnian Serbia war criminal Ratko Mladic. She said, "Yes Mugi, I am very happy today. Our long struggles achieved one of their objective. Justice will prevail!"

Well, more than that, I was able to walk through the UBC campus, crossing North West Drive into the Trail 6 of the Wreck Beach. It was about to sunset and day turned dark. The end of Spring is just like its beginning, freezing. I did not really see the nude beach (where clothing is optional) in detail. But from a distance, in the darkness, I saw a girl posing under the camera blitz..

The other good thing, however is that I was able to enjoy the beautiful Stanley Park at downtown Vancouver, and see the Beluga at the Vancouver Aquarium!

Monday, May 23, 2011

To share and learn to fight against forgetting

I will be sharing and learning in a workshop on May 25-26 at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada with other experts and practitioners on the works on human rights and historical memory in post-conflicts and post-authoritarian situation. Participants from Latin America,Africa, Asia and the host Canada will share theirs.

It must be a very interesting and useful experience. But a two-day workshop is just too short!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Dictator was finally overthrown

Today 13 years ago, Indonesian dictator, Supreme General Soeharto was overthrown. Not by the popular movement, foreign pressure nor the domestic political rivalry among elites. He was overthrown by the combination of them all. No one liked Soeharto anymore.

But overthrowing Soeharto was not enough. It was never enough. What was more crucial was, what came next after Soeharto? Where will Indonesia go? What kind of leadership and political system Indonesia should have? Who will lead and continue the "reform" movement? How Soeharto and his cronies should be treated? And so many more questions to answer.

That was what I had in mind exactly 13 years ago, when I was still inside the detention centre of Jakarta Metropolitan Police. One other question for me personally was, whether I will be freed after the fall of the dictatorship.

Now, 13 years later, I have some small assessments and reflections.
I do believe and enjoy that there have been so many changes and improvements, as compared to the previous authoritarian rule of General Soeharto. But not to be mislead, I would prefer to compare the current regime to those countries with democratic rules, and most importantly with the demands and expectation of the vast majority of the people. This way, I oppose the way Indobarometer findings...

The current government SHOULD WORK VERY MUCH HARDER, not for they political groups today or for 2014, but for Indonesia as a nation, for generations to come...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Days before the fall of the Dictator; Jakarta uprising

It was exactly on my second month being detained in the Jakarta Regional Police Detention Centre, when we heard the gunshots for about one minute from the street about 50 meters away from our cells. It was May 14 and 15, 1998.
The prison guards prepared their weapons, because they informed that the masses outside were about to raid the detention centre to free the detainees. I was then transferred from my isolated cell to other cells full of "criminals". We were all about 30 persons in a 6 times 12 meters cell.

We were nervously waiting for what will happen to us. But we all believed that even if the prison was raided by thousands of angry masses, we will be safe. Because the angry masses were against the government, not us.

Being in the same cell with the "criminals", although for only 2 days, I got an impressive experience. I testify how the "criminals" really gave respect to the people like me, that was categorized by the authoritarian regime as a political detainee. It was these "criminals" who later provided me with information from outside, and gave me full supplies of basic needs in prison; newspaper, cigarettes, snacks, coffee, soap, detergent, tooth paste and tooth brush...
I knew these petty criminals were the results of social injustices reproduced by the dictatorship.

Well, the fact, our cells were never being raid by no one! What we heard and read from TV and newspapers that day and after was that on 13-15 May 1998, Jakarta was in total chaos. Rioting was everywhere. Looting and burnings also happened to malls, super markets and shops. Unfortunately, the riots and looting targeted some particular Tionghoa ethnic groups. But in many other cases, the masses also targeted properties belong to the dictator and his cronies!

Of these few days riots, thousands are reported killed, raped, tortured, detained and made disappeared.

Big questions are on why the masses put those targets? Where are the police or military in those three days?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Days before the fall of the Dictator

I was inside the cell of Jakarta Police Detention Centre when the students all over the universities in Indonesia staged daily demonstrations in April and May 1998. But May 12 1998 was different. From the visitors visiting criminal detainees (as a political detainee I was not allowed to be visited) and prison officers, we heard that some students were shot dead when having demonstration at the Trisakti University in Jakarta. On the night news on TV outside our cell I also heard the song "Gugur Bunga" sung. The song is usually sung when someone dies or passes away as a martyr and of a good value. Then there was silence from hundreds of the detainees inside the detention centre. Soon later, the silence broke and all the prisoner sang along the Gugur Bunga song, in solidarity with the victims at Trisakti University.

My fellow political detainee shouted at me, saying that we all will be freed soon. Not by the government, but by the students and people movements......

Thursday, May 05, 2011

They attack on our weakest point

The struggle for justice goes to the next more advance level.