Indonesia. The Reform Movement and the Lost Lives

EditorFriday, 02 December 2022



Anick HT” 

25 Stories of Primordial Conflict in 5 Regions in Denny JA’s Poetry Essay Book “————————————————– –

The reform movement is an important momentum for the journey of the nation’s civilization from the dark era of authoritarianism to the era of democracy which promises hope for changes in a more humane direction for its citizens.However, the moment of the reform movement does not only contain stories of the heroism of student fighters. It is also a historical point that gave birth to betoro kolo and destroyed the lives and lives of many people, taking many lives.

 It is inconceivable, as stated in the results of the Denny JA Foundation’s research for Indonesia without Discrimination, from 1998-2011, for 14 years, there were 2,398 cases of violence and discrimination in Indonesia.Perhaps most of these cases were buried by time, and were not directly experienced by the current dominant generation. Some without a complete settlement and hanging mystery. Others still leave prolonged trauma. Some of them even still occur and become the choice of how to solve problems between people.

Denny JA recorded five types of conflicts and riots which were considered the most crucial in the course of the reform era, namely: the Jakarta Racial Riot, May 1998; 2001 Sampit Riot, Dayak Versus Madurese; Lampung Ethnic Conflict VS Balinese Ethnicity, 2012; The Case of Ahmadiyah in NTB, 2006-2022; and Maluku Conflict, 1999-2002

These recordings consist of 25 dramatic stories written in essay poetry form, Screams After Freedom.The five types of conflict and riots which marked one of the lowest peaks in Indonesian history seem very painful, even to be told to posterity. Ichsan Malik, a peace facilitator who was directly involved in various conflicts, even said that after reading the book Screams After Freedom, he immediately reacted: “…the mouth feels a bit bitter, the chest feels a little tight, and the head is a bit throbbing.” 

(Peace After Screams and Freedom).Then why did Denny JA make it the theme of 25 essay poems which were published in Screams After Freedom? Why does this tragic and full of horror story have to be brought up again to the surface?Denny JA has his own answer. For him, the stories that have sacrificed more than 10,000 Indonesian lives are too dark to be remembered, but too important to be forgotten. 

The most important thing is, how can we process these events into valuable lessons?He refuses to forget. Refusing to assume that these terrible events have never happened on this beautiful earth. Refusing to ignore that the progress of our civilization today cannot be separated from the sacrifice of these lives.For him, forgetting those tragedies means wasting opportunities to take valuable lessons for this nation’s civilization. 

Covering up a dark history means wasting the sacrifices of those who should not have lost their lives.There is no reason whatsoever that can be used as a basis for the disappearance of human life. Therefore, there is also no reason not to take lessons from these lost lives.How did Denny JA package it into a lesson for us?It has an important weapon called essay poetry. As he said, essay poetry is a new way of telling stories in documenting the true story. 

Those horrible facts. In contrast to historical writing or journalism, essay poetry adds drama and fiction. The combination of fact processing and dramatic fiction allows him to present historical records and at the same time present important learning narratives from that history.Why is fiction needed to tell a true story? For Denny, a piece of history will be easier to remember, more touching if it is told through a touching drama.According to Isbedy Stiawan ZS, this concoction is the strength of this book. Denny JA “is like having ‘100 eyes’ to see, observe, and at the same time determine the right angle to write these dramatic stories.” (‘Balinuraga Conflict’ in Denny JA’s Poetry Essay).

The conflicts and riots were traumatic experiences, not only for the victims, but also for the actors and perpetrators. After being away from the events for so long, after a collective awareness has awakened that the conflict produces nothing but destruction, many of the perpetrators end up in torment, haunted by a prolonged sense of guilt.This is what Jacky Manuputty calls in this book a turning point. “Denny JA’s poems offer a complete approach by portraying the actor’s transformation process from conflict to peace. Turning point stories are an inspiring form of peace narrative, having the same impact and appeal as conflict dramas.” (Let Tambourines and Toto someone back together).

In a long enough distance now, we slowly realize that the victims in the reform era did not know what made them killed or raped. What caused their homes to be destroyed without mercy. There is no single reason that makes sense why in this peaceful country, anger and hatred can suddenly infect civilized humans.Likewise with the actors and perpetrators who destroy, rape, and kill each other. Many of them do not really realize why they do it all. On what basis do they have the authority to kill other human beings.

This book before you is a collection of direct responses to 25 dramatic stories in the form of essay poetry written by Denny JA. The authors of this book represent various points of view that are expected to enrich readers, who are or are not directly involved with the conflicts and unrest that this nation is experiencing.Quoting Anis Hidayah in this book (The Opening Wound), “This book is not just a work of literature. When historians are unable to spell out the dark events of human rights violations, this book is present as a reference to fill in the historical gaps that have occurred. So this book is important to read, especially the younger generation born after 1998. The stories contained in this book of poetry essays against the backdrop of 5 tragedies of human rights violations in Indonesia are written as if they were alive. The messages about impunity, the trauma of the victims, and the lack of state protection are very strong in this book.”

Anick HT is the editor of Denny JA’s essay poetry book “Screams After Freedom” and the article is the editor’s introduction. 


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