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1807 Feb 2010
21 Years after the Talangsari, Lampung tragedy
Raising a Memorial in Talangsari III
"President Yudhoyono promised in a meeting with the families of the victims on 26 March 2008 at the Presidential Palace that five days later he would send a team to Talangsari to build up infrastructure with electricity, road improvements, and clean water facilities. But up to today that promise has not been fulfilled."
These are the words of Azwar Kaili, a 63 year old survivor of the Talangsari tragedy of 1989, when government forces massacred the inhabitants of Talangsari III village in response to their support for a separatist movement. Kaili made the statement during visit accompanied by PK2TL (The Association for Victims and their Families of Talangsari, Lampung) to several media offices including Lampung Post, Radar Lampung and Lampung TV to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Talangsari tragedy.
On the 21st anniversary, The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), PK2TL, the Alliance for Independent Journalists (AJI) and several other civil society organizations held a memorial to remember the event and fight against historical amnesia. The families of the victims played the dominant role creating the commemoration committee and working on the substance.
The events were over several days, and started with a February 5th press conference at the office for AJI in Bandar Lampung, attended by local and national media outlets. Several victims' families attended as well, accompanied by a representative from the Legal Aid Institute office in Bandar Lampung.
At the opening of the press conference Chrisbiantoro from KontraS said that this anniversary was different from the years preceding. "We along with the families' victims built a musholla (prayer room) here to remind the public and government that we will not forget this case.." Rasmin, a 73-year old survivor, said "We don't stop thinking about why the government hasn't followed through with development here, are we still being accused of being wrong?" Rasmin's statement raised the issues of poverty and backwardness still experienced by the victims of Talangsari after the government has continued to ignore them. Another survivor, Jayus, added that "the village government has made the victims the enemy by always threatening to withhold infrastructure improvements in Talangsari III village as long as the victims continue to raise the case."
On February 6th, KontraS and several of the victimsâ€™ families visited several newspaper and TV media outlets in Lampung. They invited the media to attend the officiating of the Musholla and asked for the media's support in continuing to spread the message of the victims. They also hoped to push the government through media attention to attend to the rights of the victims and improve infrastructure in Talangsari III including clean water facilities, electricity, road improvement, and the neglected educational and health infrastructure.
The reaction from the media outlets was positive. One of the results was that the media would set up special coverage of the anniversary, culminating in the opening ceremony for the Musholla. Lampung TV would air a talk show highlighting the poverty of the community.
On the same day, representatives from PK2TL and KontraS met with the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) office in Lampung along with the head of the victim's committee. In the meeting, the NU representative promised to raise the issue of continued poverty at NU, up to the organization's leader, and hoped it would make it to the agenda of the next meeting.
On the last day, the anniversary culminated in the village of Talangsari III. After readings from Al-Quran, victims shared their stories. One, Suparmo, said that "we only demand that the government acknowledge the massacre in Talangsari and give the victims back their rights."
Yati Andriyani from KontraS said that "we hope this Musholla can become a symbol of the resurgence of the victims and open the eyes of those in power to the need to help the victims." Finally, KH Maman, a religious leader from Cirebon who arrived to give his support, closed the program. In his speech, KH. Maman said he would help the children of Talangsari with religious and music study. He also promised to return to Talangsari to give further support to the victims.