APSN Banner

797th Thursday action demands 'where are the human rights you promised'

CNN Indonesia - November 30, 2023

Jakarta – Scores of civil society activist held another routine Kamisan (Thursday) action opposite the Presidential Palace complex in Central Jakarta on Thursday November 30. Today's action is the 797th Kamisan.

The activists wore uniform black clothing and held up black umbrellas that have characterised previous Kamisan actions. Several people brought posters containing criticisms of the government.

This time, participants from the Driyarkara School of Philosophy (STF) in Jakarta performed a theatrical action with the theme 'President or Pesinden'. The performance contained a 10-year criticism of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo who is seen as not having produced any results in resolving human rights (HAM) violations.

The performance opened with a person mourning over the problems that have befallen them. Some of their family members were beaten until they were covered in blood by a figure wearing a uniform. Some even died.

Then, a number of people appeared scattering flowers as a sign of sharing their grief. After this an ordinary looking man appeared claiming to be from Solo (Widodo's home town) and who was running as president.

The figure of the Solo man referred to himself as a fellow ordinary person. He also claimed to be a simple carpenter (before becoming mayor of Solo Widodo ran a furniture company). He then makes a lot of promises until he gains the sympathy of the people. To cut a long story short, the man then succeeds in becoming president.

After becoming president however, the man from Solo is silent. Yet the ordinary people are troubled. The people's screams are not heard. The figure of a carpenter from Solo remained silent on a high table accompanied by a woman wearing a traditional Javanese kebaya.

"It's been ten years lho, ten years, like this. Where have you been? Ten years is a long time, aduuuh. The President, for ten years", said a figure playing a figure from the ordinary people.

"Where are the HAM you promised?", shouted another performer at the president.

They also scolded the president for instead protecting perpetrators of gross human rights violations.

"Prabotan and Srimulatan along with Wartanto instead became ministers", reiterated the figure of an ordinary person – referring to Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani and former Security Minister Wiranto.

Then, a figure wearing a white shirt whispered into the ear of a man wearing a batik shirt. The man in batik played the role the minister named Prabotan.

"How about it Pak [Mr] Prabotan, will you be a dependable minister to the president?", they asked speaking into Prabotan's ear.

"HAM cases Bapak!", they shouted while pulling Prabotan's ear wide with their hand.

The performance ended with the removal of the presidential paraphernalia from the presidential figure. A sign of the people's disappointment. The presidential figure however remained silent, unmoved, uncaring.

According to one of the students from Driyarkara STF, a president and a pesinden have similarities. They should create calm.

But there is a difference, a sinden (female singer who accompanies gamelan performances or wayang puppet shows) makes the listener calm when singing. The president however does not necessarily make things calm when they issue "their singing", otherwise called orders.

"Indonesia is in chaos, the president issues royal commands, there isn't anyone who refuses", said the student.

"However, is the president job only to govern? No the president not only governs. The president must also act", they continued.

The mother of a victim of the Semanggi student shootings in 1997, Sumarsih, was also present at the action. She also criticised the government which she said is not serious about resolving human rights problems.

"[Past] human rights violations have been acknowledged by the state. But to this day HAM has become just a political commodity which is used as a tool to garner votes every election. As was done by Pak [Mr] Jokowi, but he has actually become the protector of gross HAM violators", said Sumarsih.

Kamisan actions are held every Thursday in front of the State Palace by victims and the families of victims of human rights violations. The first Kamisan action was held on January 18, 2007. (yla/tsa)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aksi Kamisan ke-797, Massa Gelar Teatrikal 'Presiden atau Pesinden'".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20231130182024-20-1031241/aksi-kamisan-ke-797-massa-gelar-teatrikal-presiden-atau-pesinde