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Another worker found dead
By Jana D.K.
On April 30, 1994 a worker activist at P.T. Kahatex, Bandung, West Java, Titie Sugiarti, was found dead floating face down in a waist pond near her quarters at the factory. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her death have lead worker activists to believe that she may have been murdered for her role in planning a strike at the factory. Despite pressure from worker support groups for a full investigation, no conclusive results have been achieved.
Titie had been active in the worker movement since 1992 and friends said she was planning a strike at the end of May over issues such as menstrual leave, Lebaran (festival at the end of the Muslim fasting month) bonuses and health insurance. On February 3, she had been involved in organising a strike at the Kahatex Factory in Cigonnewa, Cijerah Bandung, in which a Ministry of Labour vehicle was damaged.
Friends say that she was a strict Muslim, diligent, polite to everyone and had no enemies. She was very active both within factory and with other factories in the area. P.T. Kahatex is foreign owned by interests from Taiwan, Japan, Holland, Australia and the US and Indonesian managed. It produces textiles for blankets and carpets for export.
At 3.30 p.m. on May 29, Titie finished her shift and returned to her quarters. At 9.30 p.m. a friend who shares the room left for the night shift and half-an-hour later, two other workers returned and asked her if she had eaten to which she replied she had. Her younger sister Anis, has stated that she saw Titie asleep in her bed until 11.00 p.m. when she fell asleep but when she woke at 4.00 a.m. next morning, Titie was gone.
At 5.30 a.m. Anis left for the morning shift and at 6.15 a.m. Titie's body was discovered by two friends.
At 7.00 a.m. Titie's body was removed by a security guard and when the Cikeuruh police arrived half-an-hour later, they and were angry that she had been removed before they arrived and without permission. She was then taken to Sumedang hospital and examined by a doctor who found that blood ran from her mouth, ears and nose when her stomach was pressed.
It was not until the next day, May 1, that agreement was given by family members and an autopsy was carried out. It was concluded that she had drowned by gave no reason for the blood coming from her mouth, nose and ears.
The team concluded that she was taken from her bed by one or more persons somewhere between 11.00 p.m. and 2.00 a.m. on the night of April 29. (as both pairs of sandals she wore were still in the room) and was then tortured and or beaten and thrown dead or near death into the pond. They also believe that the killer or killers must be known by security personnel as all people leaving and entering the factory grounds are checked 24 hours a day and questioned the fact that nearby security staff failed to hear the screems. They noted that the key to her lodgings was left on window sill and therefore the killer could easily have entered.
In their recommendations the team stated that a new autopsy must be carried out to investigate the blood and that company staff and security who have not been question by police, be examined and explain why they failed to notify the local police and allowed evidence at the site to be damaged.
On October 1994, one of PPBI's workers activist named Asih who works for P.T. Ganda Guna Indonesia Tangerang, was tortured and goaled for three days the Kodim offices because she lead workers in rally to the DPR RI (People's Representative Assembly). While she was being held, she was not allowed to contact, or have a lawyer present. She was badly beaten, kicked, burnt and suffered sexual abuse. The military also threatened to rape her if she refused to reveal another student activist's name who was involved in the rally.
In February, Soleh, a workers from PPBI who works at P.T. Pipa Mas in Tangerang, was kidnaped and interrogated by the military for his involvement in student-workers demonstration on 10 January 1995. Also unable to be accompanied by a lawyer, he was held for two days and tortured with cigarette burns.
On April 5, Surani, a woman worker who lead P.T. Kreasi Plastic Indotama workers in a strike in Semarang, was kidnaped by intelligence agents from the Semarang Police Districts. During interrogation she was also threatened with rape if she continued the strikes.
On April 26, Wiji Thukul and Nandar, two activist from the PPBI branch in Solo, were arrested by the police during a demonstration in front of the Solo State Court. The demonstration was protesting a case of sexual harassment of a woman named Zaenab by her employer. During interrogation, they were beaten by police.
On May 1, Lukman, a member of PPBI's Central Committee, was arrested and tortured by intelligence agents from the Semarang Police District for his role in leading a May Day rally last month and for working in an "illegal" trade union.
On the same day, 20 workers activist from PPBI were injured when they were "struck" by police motorcycles for continuing a march to the Semarang Provincial Assembly during the May Day celebrations. A number were later admitted to hospital.
Jana D.K. is ASIET's Jakarta based corrispondent