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Breaking the Silence: Survivors Speak about 1965–66 Violence in Indonesia

Chapter 6


Lestari

My ideals for my country

This is the place I was born
Cradled and raised by my mother
The place of sanctuary in my old age
Until I take my final rest

If you want to meet Ibu Lestari in Jakarta, it is very easy. Just go to the Walujo Jati Home in Jalan Kramat V. If you don’t find her there, then you might go to the offices of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) or the National Commission for Women’s Rights (Komnas Perempuan), or the Indonesian Association of Families of the Disappeared (IKOHI, Ikatan Keluarga Orang Hilang Indonesia) or the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS, Komisi untuk Orang hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan). These institutions will definitely tell you where she is, because she is well known to them all. Ibu Lestari often attends their events in her continuing fight for her civil rights taken by the State.

Ibu Lestari is of small stature, and rather stooped, but when she speaks her voice is clear and her eyes shine bright with fire. When she was asked to talk about her life, she gave a series of interviews, as recorded below.

Village childhood

My name is Lestari and I was born in 1931 in the village of Ngawi which is in the District of Ngawi, in Madiun, East Java. During colonial times, villagers did not usually record the date of their children’s births, so I do not know the month or day of my birth. I was one of the lucky ones because I got some schooling. In my village there were only three girls who got the opportunity to go to school back then.

In Dutch times, my father was a construction foreman, so he was well regarded. Because of this, it is not strange that he had two wives and fourteen children. I was the fifth child out of seven from his first wife. I have two siblings still living, the rest have died.

My first schooling was at primary school, from grades 1 to 3, together with the boys. When I started grade 4, I chose to go to the special primary school for girls. At that school, apart from general classes like geography, history, arithmetic and sport, we also got special classes like batik, sewing, weaving, knitting, crochet, cooking and ironing. It was a terrible shame that the classes that I loved had to stop because new rulers arrived, namely the Japanese fascists. The coming of the Japanese was really bad because all the materials we needed for handicraft suddenly vanished from the market after people raided all the shops.

Every morning I went to school, which was not far from my house. I would walk barefoot, because in those days being barefoot was normal. Not like today when you have to wear shoes and neat uniforms. And my school was also very simple. It was a semi-permanent structure which consisted of a few classrooms and a room for the teachers. In the classrooms there were desks and chairs for the students, a blackboard, chalk and a long ruler. There was also a cupboard for books, equipment and the crafts materials for the girls’ classes. Even though it was simple, I was happy because I really loved school.

The ‘older brother’ spirit spread by Japanese propaganda changed the relationship between teachers and students. Whereas formerly it was distant, now it became closer. However, on the other hand the Japanese occupation interrupted the process of teaching and learning at school. Cloth for sewing, and writing materials disappeared from the market. And the time for study became more limited. We were more often herded out of school to look for caterpillars on the castor oil plants beside the road than studying in class. And there was much more physical education like gymnastics and marching.

The Japanese occupying army ordered the formation of some new organisations, one of them being the Fujinkai which is like our neighbourhood welfare group today (PKK). The head of the Fujinkai at the village level was usually the wife of the village head (lurah), and that is how it was in my village. But the lurah’s wife was illiterate, and so I was asked to accompany her in the Fujinkai meetings at district level. This was my first experience of being in an organisation. At that time I had just finished my primary schooling. I had to write down notes from the meetings and also get the girls of the village together for marching lessons.

When I finished primary school for girls, I went on to study at the higher primary school (Sekolah Rakyat Sempurna II) which was an amalgamation of Taman Siswa and Mardi Siswa. [Indonesian education movement. Trs]. Among the teachers there were some who were nationalists (the ‘Taman Siswa group) and some who tended more towards the Dutch curriculum. I was one of the active students at school. I was often given leadership tasks. Sadly, when I finished this school I was forced to end my schooling. One of the reasons was that during the Japanese occupation, my family’s finances were very difficult. Indeed, at that time, almost everyone in Indonesia experienced shortages of food and clothing. This is why this period is called the time of famine. Every day, my family and other people in the village had to eat tiwul, which is dried cassava that is pounded, steamed, and eaten with grated coconut. In the morning, breakfast was the crust left when you cook rice in a pot, again eaten with grated coconut. Because it was difficult to find any cloth, I remember we had to wear clothes made out of old mosquito nets. One of my uncles became a romusha, namely a forced labourer. Usually, the romusha were sent to work in the mines, and most of them never returned.

The other reason I had to leave school was because my stepmother wanted me – as a girl – to work in the kitchen. My stepmother, my father’s second wife, had become my replacement mother since I was five when my own mother died giving birth to my youngest sister. Sadly, my stepmother could not understand my love of education.

My oldest brother was the first person to instill in me the importance for girls of education and a broad outlook. He was a graduate of Taman Siswa, and in the Dutch times he began teaching reading and writing to young people in our village. Every week he would give me one cent to take out books from a library run by a clerk in the information office. I would always take out books of folk stories. The library was at his house. It was very simple. There were not many books. Even though it was simple, it was tremendously useful for the children, including me, and I went there regularly to borrow books.

My oldest brother was also the first person to introduce me to the idea of nationalism. Back then, the only history lessons we got at primary school taught us about ancient Javanese kings. But my brother taught me other, more inspiring history. He taught me the nationalist anthem Indonesia Raya. He also introduced me to the pioneer of education and equality for women, Ibu Kartini, and it was he who encouraged me and my older sister to commemorate Kartini’s birthday. He gave us five cents to make a yellow rice cone with an omelette. Then we gathered the village girls together. My brother then talked and told them all who Kartini was and what she had done.

It was only later, when I became active in Gerwani (Gerakan Wanita Indonesia, the Indonesian Women’s Movement) in 1951 that I really understood my brother’s words and his purpose. I respected Ibu Kartini even more. The more I became involved in organisations, the more I got to know other nationalist figures, like Ki Hadjar Dewantara, the founder of Taman Siswa and a major figure in the nationalist education movement.

When I finished upper primary school, my time was completely taken up with domestic chores and helping in the garden, and I got no further opportunity to advance my knowledge. I began to get bored. I wanted some other experience. I also wanted to be independent, particularly because my relationship with my stepmother was not good. So I decided to look for work in Surabaya, East Java, following the advice of a friend who had already gone there and found work. In 1950, after convincing my older brother and getting a small sum of money, I set off for Surabaya. I went by bus, carrying just a few basic things. I decided to leave home and look for work, so I could be independent and not have to answer to anyone.

Away from home and joining organisations

A friend of mine helped me get work as a child minder for a family in Bojonegoro, East Java. It was through this job that I got to know members of the Communist Party, and through them I got to know organisations. The house where I worked was also the office of the Bojonegoro branch of the Communist Party. My job was to serve coffee and cakes at every party meeting. Because of this, I used to hear snippets of their conversation. Over time, I became more curious. Every time I took in the coffee, I would try to sit outside the room where they were meeting so I could listen to the discussions. I was really impressed with a woman teacher who was very clever at making speeches. Her name was Bu Warmi. I thought to myself, I want to be like her.

One day in 1951, Bu Warmi invited me to take part in a congress. Because of my curiosity and because I was so impressed with her, I went along. I was so happy and proud to be able to take part in that congress. It turned out that it was a congress of a women’s organisation called Gerwis, (Gerakan Wanita Sedar. Movement of Alert Women). This was the beginning of the establishment of what was later called Gerwani, (Gerakan Wanita Indonesia, the Indonesian Women’s Movement). I had gone knowing absolutely nothing at all about what was going to be discussed at the congress. I was probably the youngest member in the Bojonegoro group. Apart from our group there were also groups from other places like Tuban and Lamongan. We all stayed at the Penilih hotel in Surabaya. While we attended the congress we went everywhere by becak (pedicab).

The congress was led by Ibu S.K Trimurti (who was a Minister of Labour during the Soekarno era), Bu Wati, Bu Sri from Solo, Ibu Darini, and others. My youthful spirit of nationalism was really fired up. I could take part in a congress that I saw as incredibly important for my gender. One item on the agenda at the congress that really interested me was polygamy. I knew from personal experience just how awful it was to be a child whose father was polygamous, and who was forced to be brought up by a stepmother. Polygamy affected the children badly. And when I was older, I also often heard stories about how my mother had suffered when my father took his second wife.

But it was only at the congress that I better understood that polygamy was an unjust practice for women. And women had to be brave enough to fight for it to be wiped out. Another agenda item that impressed me was something that had long bothered me, namely women’s poverty. At the place where I stayed, every morning very early I often saw market women bent double with loads of charcoal and firewood walking to the market.

This sight always made me feel sorry for them, and also ask what, exactly, were the root causes of their poverty and oppression. When I went home after the congress I was given many books to read, and I realised that the root of the Indonesian people’s poverty was colonisation. Poverty had to be broken with education. After taking part in the Gerwis congress I was more convinced that this organisation was right for me. I wanted to fight to improve the destiny of Indonesian people who were still oppressed, particularly women, through Gerwis. And in Gerwis I also found a strong sense of solidarity. This sense of solidarity never wavered, even when later we were all imprisoned. And it was also my Gerwis friends who cared for me after I was released from prison.

When I got home from the congress, Bu Warmi started encouraging me to learn about organisational matters. I studied the Gerwis statutes and bylaws. I helped to distribute the decisions of the congress, and to recruit new members. The Gerwis recruiting was done by a kind of roadshow from village to village. In this way, the support of village women for Gerwis kept increasing, compared to other women’s organisations. When we went into an entirely new village, we would work together with another existing organisation there like BTI (Barisan Tani Indonesia, the Indonesian Peasants Front) or Sarbuksi (Serikat Buruh Kehutanan Seluruh Indonesia, the All Indonesia Union of Plantation Workers). Sometimes we would begin the familiarisation process with a talk for women in the village hall. Two topics that always attracted the interest of village women were campaigns against polygamy and child marriage. After the talk, we would follow up with door-to-door visits to everyone who had attended. That way we could meet the village women directly and exchange ideas with them.

Once people were interested, usually the women themselves would spread news to others. When there was a group of ten, we would form a branch and then immediately hold some activity we thought was right for that area. Apart from Gerwis’s campaigning against polygamy and child marriage, there was also a literacy campaign, fairs to sell things made by women, and arisan, which are traditional gatherings of women where all participants contribute an amount of money and the winner of a lottery gets all the money. All events were shared and voluntary. For instance, a family with a larger house might provide the place, and the others would bring chairs, tables, people to help and so on. After Gerwis became Gerwani, it managed to have a representative in the Religious Affairs Office (Kantor Usuran Agama) as an advisor alongside representatives from other women’s organisations.

We also held talks in the villages to explain to members the reason that certain organisations were opposing the Round Table Conference which was disadvantaging Indonesia. We also explained to them about the National Front and the Crush Malaysia campaign. We made a curriculum to fight illiteracy. In drawing up this curriculum, we used words that women are familiar with in their everyday lives and which had become part of the organisation’s programs, for instance anti-polygamy, distribution of produce and so forth. To further develop their capacity to think, every member of Gerwani was required to read the organisation’s bulletin. We would include news about the development of the organisation in various areas which could be used as models for other areas.

In 1952 I was chosen as the head of Gerwani for Bojonegoro. I was just 22 years old, more or less. After working for seven years, I was taken to join Gerwani’s Regional Leadership Committee (DPD, Dewan Pimpinan Daerah) for East Java, headquartered in Surabaya. As board member, I was increasingly busy, and often had to visit other areas in East Java and Madura on a program called turba (turun ke bawah, going to the grassroots). All DPD members were required to ‘turba’ and follow the principle called ‘the three togethers’ (tiga bersama): work together, eat together, and sleep together with the peasants. Many of the Gerwani members were peasants. So, when the Indonesian Peasants Front (BTI) launched its action demanding a fairer distribution of produce, Gerwani joined. Gerwani also worked together with SOBSI (Serikat Organisasi Buruh Seluruh Indonesia, All-Indonesia Trade Union Federation) in demanding a reduction of the price of basic daily necessities.

In Surabaya I met a widower called Suradi. He was a Communist Party functionary. We got to know each other. There was a twelve year difference in our ages. We got to know each other slowly, and fell in love. In 1962 we married. I was already 30 or so by then, but I had been totally occupied in activities for the people. At the time we married, we were considered to have married very late. I indeed had been too busy and too much enamoured with my work to think there was any rush to marry. In our marriage, although we both were working, our life remained simple.

Once I bought a blouse on credit and wore it to a function at the Governor’s offices to celebrate Independence Day. My husband asked, ‘how much did you pay for that blouse?’ I said ‘I got it on credit’. He wasn’t angry, but the next day he gave me some money to go and pay off the blouse and advised me never to have debts because this was a bad habit and would later be a burden to the family. My husband was not the type who liked to get angry just because I did something he didn’t like. He would give me his views and advise me what I should do. We lived together as husband and wife very happily, giving each other mutual support in our organisational work and at home.

We were blessed with four children: Hernowo, Dani, Indah and Nani. One day my husband came home bringing a lighter from a friend who had just returned from the People’s Republic of China. I thought the lighter was great, and my husband was very pleased with it because it was a gift from his friend. The next day the lighter was nowhere to be found and I asked the eldest, Hernowo, half accusingly, ‘where is your father’s lighter?’ He was silent. That night, after the children were asleep, I wondered how I should have acted. The next morning my son Hernowo came and gave me back the lighter which he had taken to bits. Seeing this, my husband was not angry with Hernowo, but instead he was pleased to see his curiosity, and said this was the sign of a clever child.

We shared the housework. My husband would draw the household water from the well every day, and I would cook and bathe the children. It was very important to us that we divided the domestic chores, not only between the two of us but also with the children. Dani, the second son, was in charge of the garden. Every morning my husband and I would leave for the office together, because it saved money for me to get a ride on my husband’s bicycle, and we would come back home together in the evening. If my husband still had work to do, I would get a ride with other friends heading in my direction, or occasionally take a becak (pedicab). But I couldn’t ride a becak every day because I didn’t earn enough for that. What I found so pleasing about having married an activist was that we would exchange ideas about our respective organisations. I learnt a lot from my husband about the Marxist concept of dialectic materialism which helped sharpen my understanding and analysis of people’s problems.

Torn apart and living hand-to-mouth

I heard on the radio about the military take-over; what came to be known as G30S. As the day went on, the situation became more tense. My husband was out of town at the time, he had been away on work matters for two days. Because the situation was becoming more tense by the moment and things were getting out of control, everywhere the news discredited the Communist Party. My husband went into hiding some time in 1966 in a village in south Blitar in East Java. At that time, the only way my husband and I could be in contact was via a courier. In the city, members of Gerwani, the Communist Party or organisations now considered illegal had no space to move. Every single day the Brawijaya Division Military Region Commander (Pangdam) would give speeches urging the arrest of ‘communist’ and ‘leftist’ activists. Members of Gerwani were in total disarray. Many activists in the outlying regions were arrested, disappeared and murdered. The rivers near Kediri were full of corpses. But for the time being the atmosphere in the city did not change. Only in certain places you could see the military always on guard. Those of us being hunted down could really sense the increasing power of the military.

One of my husband’s friends warned me to be careful and to leave the house as soon as possible. My feelings at the time were a mixture of sadness, fear, and anxiety. I had four young children then, and my husband was not with us. Hernowo was in the fifth class of primary school, Dani in the second class, our third child Indah was just five years old, and the youngest Nani was only 18 months. I left my three oldest children, Hernowo, Dani and Indah with the elderly woman who helped in the house. I left home taking the baby, and went to the house of my cousin who worked as a civil servant in the army, to ask for advice. He advised me to stay and hide in his house. Meanwhile, my housekeeper took the other three children to her own house. And my husband’s friend’s warning was right, because just three days after my children and I left, an army truck ambushed my house.

From then on I lived on the run, moving around Surabaya from one friend’s house to another. Once, my baby and I had to overnight in a storage shed for chicken feed and kerosene. Wherever we hid, we never stayed for more than two days. During the day we would have to hide indoors. At night, usually around 8, we would move to the next hiding place, taken by a courier. My family who sheltered me covered my living costs while I was in hiding. I tried to help as best as I could by doing work around the house to repay their kindness.

During this time, I had no contact with my three older children. Every now and then my housekeeper would come and bring me some news. Hernowo had to help her picking swamp spinach to sell in the market to earn some money. Because my housekeeper was finding the financial burden increasingly difficult, she decided to take Hernowo and Indah to their grandmother’s place, my mother-in-law that is. My housekeeper took Dani with her to her home kampung in Malang. So my family was split up; I was moving from one place to another, my son Hernowo and daughter Indah were with their grandmother, my daughter Dani was with my housekeeper in Malang, and I had no idea where my husband was. As a result of this, my son Hernowo did not get a proper schooling. He had to quit school. And the same thing happened to my second child. I was very sad about this because my hopes were to give my children the highest education possible. My third child, though, was able to graduate from junior technical high school.

One day in late 1966 I got a message from my husband telling me to move to a village in south Blitar. I went by bus with the person sent to bring me from Surabaya to Blitar. I had no idea that the remnants of the Communist Party in Blitar were forming a rebel movement. I had no opportunity to ask my courier any questions. The most important thing to me was to save myself because it was becoming increasingly dangerous to stay in the city. The south of Blitar was still a very isolated, poor area. It had once been the base of the people’s army (Barisan Tentara Rakyat) during the Indonesian revolution for independence.

The village house where I stayed was actually the home of relatively well-off people. Well off meant having a house with a tiled roof and wooden walls, and owning many coconut palms. Even so, life there was still backward. There were no such things as stoves for cooking, and they ate only dried cassava, not rice. I had to adapt to this life in a very short time. I had to walk barefoot everywhere, including moving to a hiding place that was two days’ walk away. But with all this hardship, together with some friends hiding out in the same village, we managed to form a play group for the village children. Even though we were on the run, I gathered the children from the houses around to play and to learn. I taught them children’s songs, how to count up to ten, and gave them lessons in good manners.

In South Blitar I managed to meet my husband a few times. I ended up pregnant with our fifth child. Because it would be impossible for me to look after a baby, I decided to give the baby, a daughter, to a childless couple. They changed her name. It turned out that this couple then got frightened because of the military propaganda about arresting anyone harbouring Gerwani activists. So they just left my baby in a graveyard. Fortunately, she survived. A soldier found her at the gates of the cemetery, and rescued her. The soldier was also frightened, and gave the baby to the local headmaster. The headmaster, also frightened, gave the baby to a family that sold fruit in the market. It was these fruit sellers who brought up my daughter. Later, when I was released, I managed to go and see her. This was a deeply moving reunion. We embraced and cried together.

It turned out it was not this child that I lost, but my daughter Nani who had been with me on the run. Just before I was arrested, I left Nani with a friend who was hiding me. I later heard that the army set fire to her house and everything in it, and from that moment on I lost every trace of my daughter Nani. To this day I still live in hope that we might meet again.

In August 1968, I was arrested along with some colleagues. This was when the army was closing in on South Blitar. They set up guard posts all over the place, especially at village entrances and exits. They would often ransack the villagers’ houses. Every few days, the people would have to gather in the middle of the village for lectures on how evil and bad the Communist Party was. There was a military operation to hunt down and round up anyone on the run. The army had about 10,000 civilian paramilitary assisting them. Two of my friends and I made plans to escape. A young man from the village who acted as our courier was helping us. Very early in the morning he took us to a cave on the sea shore, which I had never known about. The cave was called a ruba. But unfortunately one of the women could not walk fast enough, and so it was already daybreak before we got there. We had not realised that a squad from the 527 Battalion together with some paramilitary were standing on the edge of the cliff, and had been observing us. They had deliberately not interfered because they wanted to know our hiding place. When they thought they knew enough, they started firing at us. My friend’s husband died instantly. So we finally decided to come out of the cave and surrender. We were dragged to the top of the cliff, pulled up using women’s wrap-around waist bands (setagen). When we got to the top, they tied our two thumbs together using a very strong type of thread. That was to make it difficult for us to run away.

We were taken to the village guardpost and the army commander told us to eat. We slept there one night, and then were taken to the larger district guardpost. There I met seven other women who had been arrested before us. After staying there for one week, we were taken with armoured car escort to the headquarters of the Military Police (CPM, Corps Polisi Militer) in Malang. This is where our interrogation started. In short, we were ordered to confess that we were members of the Communist Party and were involved in the murders of the generals at Lubang Buaya in Jakarta. And I had never been to Jakarta in my life. I was, though, a member of both the Communist Party and Gerwani. After my friends and I had been interrogated, we were sent to the women’s prison in Malang. As a result of the interrogation, I was classified as Group B, which had no meaning to me. All I knew was that Group A was considered to be the most dangerous, Group B the relatively dangerous, and group C the less dangerous.

My prison cell measured about 5 × 5 meters and had eight inmates. The walls were thick, as it was a building from colonial times. To look out of the cell, there was just one window which was high up above the door. In front of our cell there was a dedicated guard. For the first three years I slept on a mat. Each of us got one mat. We were not given any blankets, so to keep out of the Malang cold we had to cuddle up together. This was the only way to keep warm. It was only close to our release, following a visit from the International Red Cross, that we were issued with mattresses, pillows and blankets.

Our breakfast every day was ground corn. Each person got four spoons, placed on an orange plate. If we got boiled corn, usually one serving was 16 or 17 kernels. This was served with grated coconut. We got rice only at lunchtime. Sometimes we got four spoons, at other times eight spoons of rice per person. This was served with boiled marrow with carrots or water spinach. Sometimes we were given vegetables cooked with a bit of coconut milk. To stave off hunger, we would look for our own food, especially sugar and palm sugar for energy, by selling our knitting and crochet to the prison guards.

We were treated differently to other prisoners – the eight of us housed together and isolated because we were considered to be dangerous to others. We were given only 15 minutes out of our cell to bathe and move around. Apart from that, we were given one hour outside every day, when the other prisoners were at work outside the prison, and we used this time to play badminton, and plant spinach and tomatoes as extra food supply. The whole time in detention we were not allowed to read. This felt like real oppression because we had no idea of what was going on outside the prison walls. So we worked out a way to collaborate with the mainstream prisoners. They would bring in bits of the newspaper and hide them in the back bathroom. We prisoners in the isolation cell were not allowed any communication with other political prisoners. The only thing we could do was call out their names when we walked past.

To pass the long hours in the cell, we would knit or crochet, and anyone who knew a foreign language would teach it to the others. Or we would just joke: we would imagine the beams in the ceiling turning into chocolate and us feasting on it to our heart’s content. Sometimes we would talk, trying to understand why we had been treated this way. But we could never find the answers, and that is what tortured us the most, apart from being separated from our families.

All in all, the prison wardens treated us well enough. There was only one incident when they pulled out the spinach we had planted, so we had to protest by singing the ‘Internationale’ to get the attention of the prison director. Twice while I was in prison I was permitted to meet my husband who was being held in Sampang. His condition was dreadful, as a result of torture. He had a heart condition, and he eventually died while performing his morning prayers during fasting month.

My husband was arrested, tried, sentenced to death and imprisoned at Sampang, Madura. But before the execution was carried out, he died of a heart condition. One day the prison wardens forced me to choose a religion. Before this, my husband and I had never given religion much thought. But because of the situation, I decided to become Christian (Protestant). I saw that it was mainly the Christians who sent us things in prison. My friends and I ended up spending 11 years in that prison isolation cell. I was released on 31 December, 1979.

Even after my release I still had to report regularly to the authorities. These ‘reporting in’ sessions consisted of us having to listen to lectures called ‘santiaji’. This went on for a few years. After that, I went to Surabaya looking for work so I could support myself. I worked as a child-carer. I changed employment quite a few times, usually working for Chinese families over a period of ten years as a child carer. I eventually stopped this work because I l did not have the strength for it. You have to be strong to look after children, and then there are times they are sick and you have to stay up with them all night. My employers did not know my background, even though my identity card was stamped with ET (Ex-Tapol, ex political prisoner). I was deliberately vague, because I was always afraid they would sack me. Luckily, none of my employers ever looked closely at my identity card.

Because I had not lived together with my own children, my relationship with them was cool. Their spouses, too, were uncomfortable if I stayed in their homes for too long, because of my status as an ex political prisoner. To me, this was the most painful thing of all. Even so, I did not want to be a burden to my children. I wanted them to have a calm life, and because of this I decided to live together with my old friends. It is they who truly understand me and with whom I have a strong sense of solidarity. Now I live in an old people’s home in Jakarta. I heard through an old friend I met back in Malang that there was an old people’s home in Jakarta that had opened for former political prisoners. Because I lived alone, I thought this would be a good idea for me. I decided to contact my old friend who runs this home. In the end, I moved and now I live in this home with other ex detainees.

These days I devote my life to work for the expression of truth. I love my motherland and my people. As long as I am in good health, I never turn down invitations to attend discussions or seminars organised by the various institutes for human rights. I was invited to Japan in 2004 along with other victims of state violence from South Africa and Chile. I am also willing to help out victims of human rights abuse, and this is why I do not want to stop the fight. I enjoy telling my story and struggle to anyone who comes and requests an interview at the old people’s home or at other places. I am happy that there is a young generation that cares about their nation’s history. My duties are not over yet!

Interviewers and transcribers: Team from ISSI (Institut Sejarah Sosial Indonesia, Indonesian Institute of Social History).

Writer: Rini P.

Breaking the Silence: Survivors Speak about 1965–66 Violence in Indonesia

   by Putu Oka Sukanta