Jakarta Journo: The Barbaric Face Of Indonesia
While most people in this country are saddened by the news of yet another woman raped in a public minivan, at least one comedian turned the horrific crime into a sick joke.
During a live TV show on Friday, Olga Syahputra pretended to be a suster ngesot or “crawling nurse ghost.” When another comedian asked how he became a ghost, Olga answered: “Trivial matter, I was raped by a minivan driver.”
The sick joke spurred much criticism, deservedly, as the nation has been haunted by a number of public transportation rape cases, including the rape and murder of university student Livia Soelistio and the latest case last week involving a 40-year-old vegetable seller.
If there are people who are willing to take to Facebook in support of the security guard who accidentally kicked a 20-year-old who was pretending to be a suster ngesot, then those people should surely gather voice to ban Olga from TV for the rest of his career, right?
But Olga’s sick joke and the latest public minivan rape are just two incidents of shame that have recently painted Indonesia as a somewhat barbaric nation.
The biggest “barbaric” incident has to be the report about the massacres in Lampung, where 30 farmers in the Mesuji district were reportedly murdered between 2009 and 2011 as a result of forced eviction by plantation company Silva Inhutani. The attacks — some of which were reportedly captured on video, and shown at the House of Representatives — have yet to be confirmed, and are under investigation.
The National Police, so far, has said that while clashes between the farmers and the company have occurred, there are no deaths.
If the massacre did take place, it is worrying news. Not only in terms of the brutality perpetrated, but also because local security was involved.
On the same island, we also learned about the deadly conflict in South Sumatra, ironically resulting from another land dispute involving another plantation firm, Sumber Wangi Alam. Two locals were killed by the company’s camp. In retaliation, hundreds of villagers launched an attack and killed five people from Sumber Wangi Alam, including a decapitation.
Both cases are evidence of the authorities’ failure to prevent such misfortunes.
The government, as the one that crafted the regulations, should have done a better job in mediating land disputes like this. The police should also be on quick feet when it comes to cases like this. To deal with the matter after the fact is a lethal way of thinking.
It’s a bit ironic that these events surfaced not long after the Dutch government’s apology for the 1947 Rawagede massacre.
The magnitude of carnage is incomparable, but the irony is that while Indonesia finally earned an apology from a foreign country that once decimated its citizens, now Indonesians are killing their own.
Another disturbing incident is the attack on the house of East Nusa Tenggara journalist Dance Henukh, which led to the death of his one-month-old baby, Gino Novitri Henukh.
It is believed that the attack is related to Dance’s writings on corruption committed by local authorities. First of all, this case shows that attacks against journalists in Indonesia are still rampant, even though the country is often pointed out as an example of Asia’s flourishing democracy by the international audience. Secondly, this shows that corruption is still widespread, and those who have the means will do whatever it takes to protect themselves.
The good thing these days is that these tragic events are no longer a hidden tale, but something that is easily spread for all to know.
Let’s just hope that those who have the power to find justice for these situations do the right thing.
Armando Siahaan is a reporter at the Jakarta Globe. Follow him on Twitter @jakartajourno or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.