It’s been a decade

This is my first piece in English. Just trying to improve my writing.

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It brings either happiness or sorrow to be amongst them. To stand every Thursday afternoon at 3-5 pm across the State Palace in Medan Merdeka Utara Street. To be one of some people striving for justice in human rights issues. To know Sumarsih, Suciwati, Bedjo Untung, Tumiso, and other victims closer.

It’s my 4th Kamisan in Jakarta. I first joined when I was involving in Sekolah Hak Asasi Manusia untuk Mahasiswa (SeHAMA) 8, a 3-weeks human rights-course for college students held by Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS).

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Suciwati and Feri Kusuma (KontraS) greeted those present.

The Thursday action, or known as Aksi Kamisan, first inspired by a movement named Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of the Plaza the Mayo) in Argentina. Madres de Plaza de Mayo was a legendary movement. It consisted to be on going for 30 years since 1977. The mothers stood across Casa Rosada in the centre of Buenos Aires every Thursday, pursued the government to reveal the existence of their children who missed during the military regime in Argentina.

January, 18th 2007, Maria Catarina Sumarsih, mother of Bernardus Realino Norma Irmawan (Wawan), started the movement in Jakarta. Wawan is a victim of Semanggi I incident, November 1998. It was a mass demonstration (most of them are universities students) rejecting special session of the People Consultative Assembly (MPR). There was a clash between the mass and the army. Wawan was shot by the army when trying to help his wounded friend in Atma Jaya University parking area.

Wawan died, but his spirit doesn’t. It lives through his mother, Sumarsih, long way until now. Every Thursday, Sumarsih stands across the State Palace, handling a black umbrella on her hand, reminding the presidents during this decade to solve human rights-violations happened in the past. The movement becomes bigger and bigger. Many people come and join the movement. Derived from a mother demanding justice for her son to a movement responding every human rights cases that happen later on.

It’s been a decade. Jokowi becomes the president replacing the two periods-president SBY. In spite of that, seems like we still need a long journey to justice. The power remains silent, the president’s promises to pay attention on past human rights-violations makes no significant-steps in these days. Impunity goes on. It’s such an irony when the man alleged as the actor of mass slaughtering becomes the minister.

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Suciwati (left) and Sumarsih flinging out a banner.

It’s been a decade. Do we need another 10 years to come? Will the power remain silent? It’s either a happiness or sorrow being there, to see Sumarsih and Suciwati—wife of slain activist Munir Said Thalib—embracing each other. Yet Suciwati has another struggle on revealing the report of Facts Seeker Team (TPF Munir) claimed lost by the government. Munir Said Thalib is a human rights defender who died in his flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam, with arsenic poisoned-drink served to him. There’s notion he was killed intentionally (by the government) with assumption he brought state’s secret documents.

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Suciwati (left) and Sumarsih embraced each other.

In SBY era, TPF was established to track the murdering of the defender. But until now, the government has not published the result yet. The regime take turns, and remains silent.