Tag Archive: protest


Six months after the collapse of the New Order regime in May 1998, students and civil society groups took to the streets to protest against the Special Session of the People’s Consultative Assembly, calling it unconstitutional and  a way to preserve the status quo. The protests soon turned into what will later be called the “Semanggi Tragedy”, named after the four-leaf clover junction near the epicenter of the event, when authorities began shooting at the protesters.  At the nearby Atmajaya University, several protesters were shot dead, including one of its students Bernadus Realino Norma Irmawan or Wawan.

The death of Wawan and his fellow protesters caused a deep grief to their families, but it has also ignited perhaps the longest-running campaign for justice for victims of human rights abuses in Indonesia.  Since January 18, 2007, families of those killed in the shooting has gathered every Thursday in front of the Presidential Palace to remind people of the severe human rights violations that took place then, and to urge fair trial and punishment for those responsible for these events.

Maria Katarina Sumarsih, 65, remembers the moment that changed her life forever like it was yesterday. On the evening of November 13, 1998, a Friday, Sumarsih, her husband, her sibling, and her in-laws rushed to Rumah Sakit Jakarta, the hospital nearest the site of the shooting, after receiving a call informing her that Wawan had been shot. Upon arriving, they were told to look for him in the basement, where the morgue is usually located. There they found some caskets lined up, and in one of them was Wawan’s body.

In her grief, she wanted desperately to bring her son’s remains home, but Chief Investigator at Jakarta Military Police Wempi Hapan asked that the body be autopsied at the state-owned Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM). Though Sumarsih was hesitant at first, she eventually agreed after being told that an autopsy was akin to a small procedure.

With the protests and the shooting still ongoing, the trip to RSCM was rough. “The ambulance driver repeatedly shouted, ‘Get your head down! Get your head down! They’re shooting  at us’,” she recalled.

Later the forensic doctor concluded that Wawan was shot with a sharp bullet that is the standard ammunition of the Indonesia National Armed Forces (TNI). The rest was history.

It took awhile before Sumarsih could overcome her grief. For several days she could not eat. She took three months off from work at the Secretariat of the House of Representatives. Until today, she still hasn’t regained her appetite for rice. But one habit that she continues to do these days is laying out a plate, fork, spoon and glass at the dining table, as if her son Wawan would join them for meal.

Since that day, Sumarsih has been trying to seek justice. In early January 2007, she and other family members of human rights abuse victims in a group called  Solidarity of Victims for Justice Network (JSKK) agreed to hold a “silent protest” every Thursday at 4-5 p.m. This later became known as “Thursday Movement” (Aksi Kamisan or just Kamisan).

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Pictures of Wawan

Kamisan was inspired by a similar movement of Argentinian mothers who used to stage rallies at Plaza De Mayo, the main square at Buenos Aires across the Presidential Palace. The women were demanding investigations into the disappearance of their children and husbands under the military dictatorship regime of Jorge Videla.

In the last nine years the Thursday Movement has provided a place to channel the voice of families of victims of other human rights abuses perpetrated by the State, from forced evictions, persecuted religious minorities, to LGBT community. Every week, the movement is participated by about 70 people, each carrying a black umbrella calling for justice for the different cases.

“Umbrella symbolizes protection,” she said, adding that the Presidential Palace was chosen as a venue because it represents power.

“If we cannot get protection from the country in this world, we’ll get it from God. If we cannot have justice in this world, we’ll have it from God.”

Black represents her undying love for Wawan: “I love him though he had passed away. My love for him is the same as my love for other victims. Our grief has been transformed into courage to uphold the law and human rights.”

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Sumarsih (standing in the middle) in Kamisan

Kamisan has received the attentions of many people, with some providing helps to them. One civil society organization routinely gave transportation fund for families of the victims. Others express their sympathies by donating food and drinks.

There are the occasional critics, however.

“A reporter once asked us why we let the victims of the 1965 events join us,” Sumarsih recalled, citing the year when the violent purge of communist sympathizers by the State that led to the death of hundreds of thousands in Indonesia began.

“I told the reporter that this movement has nothing to do with ideology. It’s purely about humanity.”

Sumarsih’s family is very supportive of the movement. Her husband Arief Priyadi is a scholar at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and before the Kamisan started, he was also involved in the advocacy for the shooting victims, though currently his work schedule prevented him from active involvement.

Since it started, Kamisan has only been accepted by one president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in 2008. In fact, since November last year, the movement has started to feel the squeeze, with police forcing them to disperse. A couple of times the activists were allowed to stay after they negotiated with the police.

She recalled what happened at a recent Kamisan in early January: “Right after we opened our umbrellas, the police began coming at us from right, left, and back. They were instructed to take us, though that didn’t happen.”

She would’ve liked to be taken to the police station, she said. At least there the group would have the police’s ear with the hope that what they demanded would eventually reach the President. The police have a reason to disperse them, she said. Article 9, Law No. 9, 1998 about Freedom of Expression in Public rules that a public protest must be conducted at a minimum of 100 meters distance from the fence of the presidential palace. But this law was never really enforced before.

“Yes, I break the rule that says protests must be at least 100 meters away from the fence, but the government broke the law by killing my son,” she would tell the police.

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Despite the challenges and obstacles, Sumarsih doesn’t let them discourage her.

“Sometimes I feel pessimistic about our fight, because it is exhausting to keep on going. But I place my hope in Jokowi, because he has committed to resolving human rights abuse cases and ending impunity,” she said, referring to President Joko Widodo by his popular moniker.

“In his speech on December 10, 2015, the President said that taking steps of reconciliation as well as taking judicial and non-judicial measures requires courage, breakthrough and improvement for the better. This gives me hopes,” she added.

aksi kamisan 9 tahun

Ninth Years of Kamisan

This story has been published in magdalene.co ,  you can see the original version in Indonesian here . All pictures are mine, except the last picture.

 

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On 28 May, Turkish people celebrate the second year anniversary of Gezi Park protest. The protest, which lasted for approximately one month, was initiated by a group of environmentalists in Istanbul opposing the construction of a replica of Ottoman military barracks in Gezi Park.

The problem is that the Gezi Park is one of the few remaining green spaces in Istanbul. Rumors suggested that not only the replicas which would be built there, but also the shopping center. Various sources claimed that the decision to redevelop Gezi Park into a replica of Ottoman military barracks made too quickly, without public consultation, and without open discussion. This protest quickly spread to various cities in Turkey.

As time went by, this protest turned into anti-government protests. Various circle of society, ranging from students to civil society groups expressed their disappointment with Prime Minister’s (Reccep Tayyip Erdogan) political style. Actually, this protest was the culmination of public discontent with the government. After the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the 2002 General Election, Turkey’s economy and political situation were relatively stable. There were no turbulence until 2011. After a period of tranquility was ended, Erdogan began to show his negative side by applying authoritarian policies.

In 2013, Freedom House, a US based NGO issued a report on democracy index in Turkey.  According to the report, Turkey remained a “partly free country”. One of the reasons was because in 2012, Turkey imprisoned more journalists than any other country in the world. In addition, political opponents were oppressed and sometimes they were subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.

Participation of Football Supporters Clubs In Gezi Park Protest

One of those groups which participated in the protest were football fans in Istanbul, especially the supporters of Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray. Among those supporter groups, Beşiktaş fans were the most in numbers, followed by Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray. The main Galatasaray groups stayed away from the protest after joining in initially because their leaders are close to AKP and Erdogan. Nonetheless, it did not stop other Galatasaray supporters from showing up.

It is unimaginable that thousands of football fans from the rival clubs united by protests against the ruling government. They called their collaborative action as “Istanbul United”. Their action was documented in a movie called “Istanbul United”, which were directed by Olli Waldhauer and Farid Eslam.

A most famous group of Beşiktaş supporters called “Çarşı” was the largest in number and the most influential. Çarşı is a “left wing” supporters group and the most politically active. Gezi Park protest was not unprecedent action for them. During the 2005/2006 football season, they collaborated with Greenpeace to oppose the installation of a nuclear power station in Sinop (a Turkish city near the black sea).

Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray fans. Source : Uludagsozluk.com

Courage shown by Çarşı during Gezi Park protest was not without risk. After the protest many of them were arrested, detained, and brought to trial. They were charged with “plotting a coup”. Furthermore, the indictment was explained that they were “attempting to capture the Prime Ministry’s offices with the aim of creating “Arab Spring-like upheaval”.

Criminal indictment against Çarşı received many criticisms, one of them was from an international human rights NGO, Human Rights Watch (HRW). ” Charging these Beşiktaş football club fans as enemies of the state for joining a public protest is a ludicrous travesty. It reveals a great deal about the enormous pressure being exerted on Turkey’s justice system by the government” , said Emma Sinclair-Webb, the senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch. “.

Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) deputy Atilla Kart described the indictment as a strong indication of fascist rule in Turkey. “The government wishes to put the entire society under pressure. This is fascism. The government calls all acts by civilians, which include prevention of the uprooting of trees and protection of the environment, coup attempt”, he complained.

Support for Çarşı also came from Borussia Dortmund fans. When Dortmund played against Frieburg in Signal Iduna Park stadium on 13 of September 2014, Dortmund supporters unfurled a banner reading : “Do not give up” and “Freedom for the Ultras (Çarşı) and Turkey”.

Until now, the trial against 35 members of Çarşı is still ongoing. Çarşı continued to actively voice the oppressed, for example by joining May Day march. What Beşiktaş,  Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray did in Gezi Park protest is a proof that football can play a unifying role in a fight against tyranny. Perhaps, for many people, justice, democracy, and freedom have died in Turkey. However, the struggle will continue whenever and at any cost.

Çarşı participated in May Day

Çarşı participated in May Day. Source : Hurriyet.com.tr

Bu makale, adalet, demokrasi ve özgürlük için mücadele eden türk halkına ithaf edilmiştir (This article is dedicated to Turkish people who are defending justice, democracy, and freedom)

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*This article was translated from Indonesian. Please read the original version here .

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I always love to take picture of protest. It began in 2010 when I took picture of May Day in Jakarta. On October 5th, Greenpeace around the world came together to protest the unjust detention of the Arctic 30. For those of you who don’t know about “Arctic 30”, i’ll explain a little bit about it.

Last month, the Russian Coast Guard seized the Arctic Sunrise (Greenpeace’s vessel)  and  arresested 30 activists as they protested Arctic . The drilling project, run by Gazprom, try to extract oil from Barent Sea. Greenpeace opposes Artic drilling because it is considered as a grave environmental risk. In fact, the activists protest peacefully but Russian authority accused them of “piracy as part of an organized group”. The government of the Netherlands announced on Friday (4 October) that it would launch legal action to free the ‘Arctic 30’. There are 2 dutch activists and Arctic Sunrise, which is Dutch-flagged vessel.

Here’s another picture from the protest in Jakarta which took place in Bundaran Hotel Indonesia

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