||Issue No. 132||19 April 2002|
Interview: Generation Next
Legal: We’re All Terrorists Now
Unions: Holding the Baby
International: Taking It To The Streets
History: Off the Wall
Economics: Financing International Development
Satire: Queen Mum's Life Tragically Cut Short
Review: Return of The People’s Parliament
Poetry: Silent Night
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Where's the Silver Tail?
Megawati Reopens Marsinah Case
By Andrew Casey
- International Editor
The May 1993 murder of 25 year old Marsinah, a worker activist employed by PT Catur Putra Surya, a watch manufacturing company in East Java became a cause celebre among Indonesian activists and the international union and human rights community.
It was widely believed that her death was related to her leadership role among the workers participating in strike action at the factory.
The Indonesian pro-reformasi website - Laksamana-net - has applauded Megawati for ordering the human rights probe but is cynical about its results saying it seems unlikely the killers will ever be brought to justice because of the military's alleged involvement in the case.
" Now is the time for Komnas HAM ( the Indonesian human rights commission) to prove that it cares more about human rights than conspiring to protect the military's image," Laksamana.net commented after the announcement of the new inquiry into the Marsinah murder.
ILO Pressure for new Marsinah Investigation
The Chairman of the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights Djoko Sugianto told reporters this week that President Megawati responded positively after the Commission reportert o her the issues involved, and the fact that the International Labour Organisation had discussed the case at its annual conference.
Djoko Sugianto said the commission had planned to renew the investigation on the grounds that the case had not been resolved properly after almost a decade.
The strike at the Catur Putra Surya watch factory started on May 3, 1993 after the company failed to comply with a circular from the Regency Governor stating that workers wages be increased from Rp 1,750 to Rp 2,250 per day.
On May 4 workers returned to the factory but refused to begin work until their demands were met.
Company Agrees to Worker Demands
That afternoon the company agreed to the workers demands. Marsinah participated in the negotiations.
The next day, 13 of the workers' representatives (not including Marsinah) were ordered to Kodim (District Military Command) office, where they were forced to sign letters of resignation. The 13 workers then sent letters to a number of government agencies protesting their forced resignation.
After finishing work that evening, Marsinah went looking for her friends at the Kodim offices but was informed they had been released.
She then visited the homes of two friends (workers who had earlier been ordered to Kodim) to obtain a copy of the agreement. At 9.30pm, Marsinah left, telling her friend that she would get something to eat on the way home.
Three days later, on May 8, Marsinah's body was found in a hut next to a rice field in the village of Jedong, Desa Wilangan, in the Nganjuk regency 200 kilometers from the factory.
The medical examination found that Marsinah had died as a result of injuries inflicted during torture. Wounds on her neck and both wrists indicated that she had been severely beaten, had suffered internal hemorrhaging and been raped with a blunt instrument before being killed.
A number of people at the watch factory were arrested for the crime but all eight defendants in the case were exonerated either because they were found not guilty or because the prosecution had been misdirected from the beginning.
Within a year of the trial the activist, pro-union, Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) released its own report that concluded there was a strong possibility that Marsinah was murdered by the military at the Kodim headquarters.
This report has been largely ignored by Indonesian officialdom.
Soon after the fall of the Suharto regime the Indonesian National Police reopened the investigation into the murder, but pressure allegedly from military sources led to no clear outcome.
The Human Rights new investigation will be based on the results of trials carried out during the regime of ex-president Suharto.
The trials conducted in 1993 were a complete sham, as managers at the East Java watchmaking factory where Marsinah had worked were used as scapegoats jailed, while the real killers were never brought to justice.
The head of the Human Rights Commission Djoko Sugianto told reporters that Indonesia had been asked by the ILO to reinvestigate the case.
"As a matter of fact, the ILO has been persistently enquiring about the case and asked Indonesia to answer its questions with evidence," he was quoted as saying by state news agency Antara.
You can read a very good history of the whole Marsinah murder saga at the Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor website just click here.
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