happy wheels

Ati Nurbaiti, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Commentary | Fri, December 06 2013, 9:05 AM


We recklessly trample on each other’s rights as wantonly as we litter, or speed into the busway lane.

How else to explain the endless testimonies on torture, rape, forced eviction and generations of loss and alienation?

Last week, 32 survivors of violence made statements in front of a limited audience. Today’s openness emboldened those requested to come forth by a network of almost 50 groups under the Coalition of Justice and Revelation of Truth (KKPK). But whether the testimonies will remind politicians and potential voters of the nation’s debts ahead of the elections is another story.

Their testimonies, given at a forum ahead of International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10 at the National Library, concerned incidents ranging from the 1960s communist purge to today’s persecuted minorities. Children of the Ahmadi in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), can barely study in the displaced persons camp that its residents — in moments of dark, desperate humor — refer to as pak kumis, which is not short for Mr. Moustache but for padat kumuh miskin (dense, squalid and poor); their home for almost eight years after being evicted for adhering to the “wrong” Islamic beliefs, one displaced person said. Members of Agama Djawa Sunda (Javanese-Sundanese religion) cannot legally marry. The voice of one woman from Kuningan, West Java, choked when relating that her father was paraded around his village like a thief as his marriage was conducted through unrecognized

The panels that heard the testimonies concluded that there were five roots of our chronic violence, as stated by the former chairwoman of the national women’s rights body, Saparinah Sadli. Militarism, thuggery and bullying were bundled into one source; strengthened over the years by impunity — the second related root problem.

Thus while many say they no longer want an authoritarian leader, it was far easier to get rid of Soeharto than to eliminate the demons within us, and the tyrants among us. For instance, the religious vigilantes practically get blessings from those of us who insist that “deviant” Muslims should adjust or declare their own faith as a separate one.

Thus the other root of violence, said Saparinah, were attempts at imposing uniformity, which reflect the habitual bullying. A survivor of the 1984 shootings in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, who lost his livelihood after being detained, echoed the cause of the Sept. 12 incident: mistrust toward Islamists who objected to the Pancasila state ideology being declared the mandatory single doctrine back then. Another related root is the control of information — to the point of denial of the truth because one comes to believe there is no other truth.

Few sympathized with survivors of the killings in Tanjung Priok, and in Talangsari in Lampung, thinking that the Islamists, like suspected communists, were indeed plotting against the state. The New Order generation is finding challenges to our convictions very unsettling, hence the hostility faced by historians trying to fix dominant beliefs.

So the testimonies of Papuan survivors of rape may draw tears — but with reservations. For if the women were even remotely related to anyone who supported separation from the Indonesian state, they risked violating the law on subversion, which is punishable by death. In sticking faithfully to one version, since Papuans voluntarily joined Indonesia after the 1969 referendum, we blithely forget today’s constitutional guarantee of freedom of opinion and association.

The testimonies of “Telling the Truth, Ending the Cycle of Violence” (Bicara Benar, Memutus Lingkar Kekerasan) are available on YouTube compliments of KKPK.

As the philosopher Franz Magnis-Suseno observes, Indonesians “have higher awareness of human rights” particularly when their own are trodden on; “but human rights have not reached into the guts of many people”, he said; people are not instantly outraged at horrific instances of violence, thinking that surely the victim shares the blame for his or her rebellious, misguided thoughts.
So why fuss? The US, the world lecturer on human rights, is not very credible nowadays either.

The problem is that we cannot bequeath such evil to our young. Therefore, political education cannot be limited to how and for whom to vote. It’s older citizens who hold fast to convictions that have justified the terrorizing of entire communities — such as the belief that the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) is the Holy Grail that no one can upset even if people are subjected to torture.

One victim of an unresolved land dispute with a mining giant said he could never again sing the national anthem, “Indonesia Raya”. It cites our home of land and water, “and I have neither”, said the villager from Soroako, South Sulawesi. His family was victim of another root of violence, the commodification of all resources, Saparinah said.

To put an end to such violence and discrimination, survivors demanded reparation and rehabilitation — but at the very least, the right to the truth for both themselves and the public. Digging up the truth is far from a priority ahead of the election year. But instead of passing on a democracy to younger generations, we would be bequeathing them a nation of untouchable bullies.

Source: Jakarta Post


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