Indonesia: Tale of Ahmadi Refugees Wins Literary Award

Jakarta Globe | December 01, 2012

A novel that tells the story of Ahmadis being thrown out of their homes and forced to move to refugee camps has won Indonesia’s major literary award.

“Maryam,” which was written by up-and-coming young writer Okky Madasari, was announced on Thursday evening to have won the prestigious Khatulistiwa Literary Award.

Okky’s third novel defeated four other finalists, including Ayu Utami’s “Enrico’s Love Story” and Gitanyali’s “65,” in a ceremony at Plaza Senayan, Central Jakarta.

“This is a big win for me, Ahmadis and for Indonesian minority groups as a whole. With this victory, I hope more support will be voiced not only for the Ahmadis but also for all minority groups,” Okky said after receiving the award.

“Maryam” describes the misery of Ahmadis in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. Through its main character, Maryam, the novel brings to the front the violence directed against Ahmadis by local Islamic groups, while the authorities do nothing to prevent the repression.

Hilmar Farid, chief jurist for the award, said the novel manages not only to demonstrate how the strong abuse their power against the weak in the name of religion, it also describes how even the weak can violate the basic rights of other weak groups.

Zeffry Alkatiri took home this year’s Khatulistiwa Award for poetry with his book “Postkolonial dan Wisata Sejarah Dalam Sajak” (“Post-Colonial Era and Travel Through History in Poems”).

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