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Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence

My bad luck

F.X. Abdul Rochim, the pseudonum of our following informant, is the husband of Ch. Mujilah, whose short narrative we just read. Abdul Rochim comes from a poor family of eight children in Magelang, Central Java Indonesia.

With no clear cause, in 1965 he was arrested and imprisoned. After detention in Yogyakarta, he was moved to Nusa Kambangan island, Central Java and confined there for fourteen years until his release in 1979.

I was born in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia and lived with my eight brothers and sisters. We were raised by our father and mother in a very poor household. The eldest in the family died a year ago. I can still remember, when I was small, my father’s rice field was narrow, not big. And at the instruction of the government back then, we were not allowed to plant rice, but had to plant cotton. Because of this, we could not meet our daily needs, and every day it got worse.

Because of this financial pressure, my parents could not send their children to school. Only my two younger siblings and I finished primary school. I then went to work on a building site, and I was assigned to the timber section.

But then I had bad luck. In 1965 I was sent to prison in Yogyakarta. Three months later I was moved to Nusa Kambangan island. The food portions there were inhumane. Sometimes we got corn three times a day, one serving being just 150 grains of corn. When the corn ran out we were given dried cassava (gaplek) and when that ran out, we were given cracked corn (bulgur). And that’s how it went, year after year. In order to keep healthy, I tried to go out of prison every day to work and look for extra food, working as a carpenter. In 1971 the food changed to reasonable portions.

I was in prison for fourteen years. On 8 December 1979 I was released. At that time, there were 220 people released along with me from Nusa Kambangan, and in addition there were those who were released from Pekalongan prison and Plantungan prison for women in Central Java. The ceremony for our release took place at the Kridosono [Sports Hall], Yogyakarta.

After my release, thinking of my future, I married in 1982. We were blessed with two children, a daughter and a son. For our daily needs, I work on construction projects. Then bad luck struck again. On 27 May 2006 there was a big earthquake in Yogyakarta. Our house was destroyed, razed to the ground. We had to sleep outside in the square for a few months, in a tent. Then we were given some assistance from the PsKP program, and with this could build a 4 x 6 metre house.

That’s the fate of a poor household. We keep getting older and our physical condition gets weaker. And meanwhile I have no activity that brings in any money. Added to this, these days I am always sick.

Our children help my wife and I with our daily necessities. The promised help from the government [for earthquake victims, trs] has still not come. Because of this, if there is any person our there, or from anywhere, that can help our family, we will be extremely grateful. We only want our life to be a bit more decent and prosperous. I thank you for your attention.

Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence

   by Dr. Baskara T. Wardaya SJ