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Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence

Suddenly, I was ‘scooped’

The informant who contributed the following account we will call Ch. Mujilah. She comes from the area of Prambanan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. As she says, she comes from a poor family whose livelihood was selling meat curry and snacks.
As we mentioned in the introduction to this book, Mujilah was only 14 when the 1965 tragedy happened. Even so, she was arrested and imprisoned. This happened because someone with the same name as her was being hunted, but was not at home. So unfortunately for Mujilah, having done absolutely nothing at all, she had to undergo forced suffering and be confined in prison for fourteen years. When she was released, there was no formal apology of any sort from the powers that had mistakenly arrested and imprisoned her.

As far as the injustice she experienced goes, she is merely grateful that she was eventually reunited with her family. To her, life after release from prison turned out not to be easy. She married another former political prisoner, who is also one of our informants in this book.

A more complete account of this informant can be found in the book Menembus Tirai Asap: Kesaksian Tahanan Politik 1965 collected by HD Saryo Sasongko, edited by Dr. Melani Budianta. It was published by Amanah-Lontar (Jakarta) in 2003.

I was born in Prambanan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. My 3 siblings and I were brought up by our parents, who were poor. To make ends meet, we had to face great difficulties. The one and only thing my parents could do was sell meat curry on a small scale. They also used to provide food to sell on other people’s food stalls in return for a small percentage.

With no prior warning at all, in 1965 a terrible fate befell me. I was just 14 at the time. I was suddenly ‘scooped’ up and put in Wirogunan prison, Yogyakarta. The food in the prison was disgusting. We were given corn and rotten salted fish. Later, dried cassava replaced the corn, but the only side dish was rotten dried fish. And there was only a tiny amount of that.

Six months later, I was moved to Bulu prison in Semarang, Central Java. I stayed there for quite some time. In 1971 I was moved to Plantungan, near Semarang. There I felt freer. I could go in and out, as long as there was an officer with me. Every day there was planting to do, like planting cassava, vegetables and so forth. We did this just to get a bit extra to eat.

In October 1979 I was released from Plantungan prison. I could reunite with my family, and breathe free air at last. Thinking of my own future, in 1982 I married and was blessed with two children. A girl and a boy.

For our livelihood, I sell meat curry, and my husband works as a building labourer. But then our family suffered another catastrophe. On 27 May 2006, a large earthquake struck Yogyakarta and its environs. Our house was completely destroyed, utterly levelled. We slept in a tent in the yard for months while waiting for assistance from the government. After waiting for ages, finally we got some assistance from the P2KP program [Program Penanggulangan Kemiskinan di Perkotaan; Program for Allieviating Urban Poverty]. With this assistance we could build a 4 x 6 meter house.

That’s our fate, living in poverty. Never enough. Right now we have no work and our children help us for our daily needs. If there is anyone or anything that can help us, we would be most grateful.

Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence

   by Dr. Baskara T. Wardaya SJ