Melawan Lupa: Mei 1998

Maaf. Saya harus posting ulang tulisan ini demi menagih hutang kepada mereka yang berkuasa.

MENJELANG deretan tanggal bersejarah di bulan Mei, tanggal-tanggal yang penuh dendam dan kegembiraan politis yang absurd – rasanya perlu mengingat-ingat lagi tentang semua peristiwa yang terjadi di belakang, bertanya, menuntut keadilan, dan apa pun yang bisa dilakukan untuk tidak lupa pada hutang-hutang yang harus dibayar negara kepada rakyat negeri ini.

Di bawah ini adalah tulisan sahabat saya, Evi Mariani – wartawan The Jakarta Post. Artikel tersebut dibuat dan dimuat tujuh tahun lalu di The Jakarta Post. Namun, sampai saat ini, setelah entah berapa banyak upaya untuk membangunkan lagi ingatan publik dan menagih orde pemerintahan yang sekarang berkuasa, tetap saja hutang itu belum dilunasi.

Jangan lupa pada mereka yang tidak pernah mendapatkan keadilan yang menjadi haknya selama 12 tahun masa yang disebut masa reformasi ini. Jangan pernah lupa, kawan!

After 7 years, it gets increasingly clear who are the losers
The Jakarta Post – Features – May 29, 2005

Half an hour after I shouted a joyous scream with my housemates having watched the live broadcast of president Soeharto announcing his resignation seven years ago, a fellow student called, asking us to meet at our campus. Fifteen minutes later, still wearing my triumphant grin, I arrived to find about a dozen friends sitting under a mango tree. To my puzzlement, they all looked grim. It was a national holiday, so most students stayed home and the campus was deserted.

“Damn, we lose!” a friend, nicknamed by fellow students “Karl-Marx-himself” due to his penchant for quoting Marx, uttered in vexation.

“Damn, we lose!” a friend, nicknamed by fellow students “Karl-Marx-himself” due to his penchant for quoting Marx, uttered in vexation. I, an idiot in this group of movement activists who often thought themselves to be infallible, was even more puzzled by this statement. Wasn’t this time for celebration after years of fighting and sometimes hiding from police and military?

Later he explained that the resignation would mean losing thousands of erstwhile apathetic students, who in 1998 began to join rallies protesting the regime’s bad behavior.

“They (the students) will think they have won and they won’t continue the fight. Whereas, we still have a lot to do,” he said.

His explanation rendered me speechless. I recalled before 1998, how
our rallies protesting violence by the state, such as the bloody crackdown of Megawati Soekarnoputri’s supporters on July 27, 1996 and the closures of Tempo, Editor weekly magazines and Detik daily tabloid in 1994, only had a few dozen participants.

In 1998, every protest rally attracted thousands of participants from all universities and people in Yogyakarta. The record number occurred the day before Soeharto resigned, when millions of Yogyakartans took to the streets. I don’t know who coined the name of the movement reformasi. To my recollection, me and fellow student activists never yelled the word during rallies. We consistently demanded two things: Bring Soeharto down (later after he resigned it became “Put Soeharto on trial”) and put the military back into their barracks.

The following morning, the campus was bustling, crowded with students who were beaming and ecstatic. Some of the boys even shaved their head to celebrate the victory.

But at that time, thanks to “Karl-Marx-himself”, I did not feel happy. I felt like a fool and a loser. And I increasingly felt like one because Karl-Marx-himself was right. Later, rallies to demand a trial for Soeharto had far few participants.

A year later, when I spent two months in a village in Central Java, dissatisfaction over the slow pace of (if not progressing in the wrong direction) reformasi began to arise. Villagers asked us university students who they thought had sowed the idea, about why reformasi had not yet done any good for them. I honestly answered that I did not know, I was not the one who invented the concept. They looked at me incredulously, staring at me as if I was a fool, which was quite true.

Now, seven years have passed since that grim day under the mango tree. “Karl-Marx-himself”, now works as an editor in a lifestyle magazine for men, writing tips for buying cool shoes and reviewing fancy restaurants (once he frowned about my lack of knowledge of things he considered fashionable like sushi and wasabi).

Another radical friend whose name was then at the top of the wanted list of military and police intelligence now is trying his luck with the largest political party, which years ago we hated so much.

Others succumbed into worse fates of pure psychological lunacy or the disillusionment of a successful socialist revolution.

These losers and I now have to accept a military man reigning at the highest position in the political realm. Okay, he has retired. Nevertheless, he is still a military man (we cannot put the adjective “former” before military, can we?).

This military president is now busy cleansing the government of all
the corrupt people, mostly civilians. So far, he is not doing so bad. During his administration we have seen civilians Abdullah Puteh, Bank Mandiri directors and KPU officials put under investigation or put on trial for graft. At the same time we can only watch him visiting another graft suspect, Soeharto himself, his senior officer in the military, in an amiable if not prostrate manner. Any protests about this political farce would not gain a large following. We can only grumble about Soeharto’s successful evasion of justice.

Seven years ago, it only took me an hour to realize who the losers were in this fight for change. Recently, my mind wandered, asking myself who was the biggest loser. But I think, I don’t really want to know.

–Evi Mariani

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