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Anti-communist vigilantes close down Wiji Thukul art exhibition in Yogyakarta

Detik News - May 8, 2017

Sukma Indah Permana, Bantul – An exhibition displaying the art works of Andreas Iswinarto in the Bantul regency of Yogyakarta province has been closed down by the social organisation Pancasila Youth (PP).

The theme of the exhibition, "I am Still Whole and the Words Have Not Yet Perished" was displaying Andreas' art work and the poems of street poet Wiji Thukul.

"We were in the process of setting things up and putting up the art work. But 30 or so social organisation members arrived, closing it down and taking down the art work", said Andreas at the exhibition located at the University of Islam Centre for Human Rights Studies (Pusham UII) offices in Banguntapan, Bantul, on Monday May 8.

As many as 35 paintings, 20 posters and scores of poems by Wiji Thukul were to be on display on May 8-11.

Andreas related how prior to the PP's arrival the police had come to the venue to ask about the event. But when the PP arrived, said Andreas, there was no sign of the police.

Exhibition organising committee members attempted to protect Andreas' art work but they could do little when five pieces of art work and several of Wiji Thukul's poems were taken away.

"There were around five pieces of art and a number of poems that were taken. We held on to the rest", said Andreas.

Andreas explained that the exhibition aimed to acquaint people with Wiji Thukul as a labour activist because the month of May is seen as a moment to reflect upon 19 years since reformasi [the reform movement that began with the fall of Suharto in 1998] and the abduction of Wiji Thukul. As part of the event discussions on press freedom were also to be held.

Similar exhibitions have been held in several other cities without incident. "Except in Semarang [Central Java] and Yogyakarta. I'm planning exhibitions in other cities", he added.

Pusham UII researcher Tri Guntur Narwaya claimed to have been pushed around by PP members. "This shouldn't be allowed to happen. This was a campus event", said Guntur.

Pusham UII director Eko Riyadi is determined to report the incident to the Yogyakarta regional police. "As the ones responsible for safeguarding and maintaining human rights and freedom of expression", said Eko.

Interviewed separately, Yogyakarta PP regional leadership board chairperson Faried Jayen admitted that it was indeed his group that closed down the event. Faried claimed that they had been monitoring activities at the event for several days.

"We found indications that the event was cover for a movement of communist children. With this understanding are we not allowed to act. But we warned them about having a permit, there was no permit from the police", said Faried.

"I am [completely] intolerant of communists and separatists. These movements lead to PKI [Indonesian Communist Party] ideas", he added. (sip/mbr)

Notes

Street performer and poet, People's Democratic Party (PRD) member Wiji Thukul disappeared in February 1998. It is suspected he was a victim of the military abductions along with other activists which disappeared in Solo (Central Java). The bodies of Thukul and three other PRD activists have never been found and they are presumed dead.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Pameran Seni tentang Wiji Thukul di Yogya Dibubarkan Massa Ormas".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita-jawa-tengah/d-3495705/pameran-seni-tentang-wiji-thukul-di-yogya-dibubarkan-massa-ormas.

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