Women’s groups in Jakarta mark 20 since Marsinah’s murder

Tempo.co – May 9, 2013
Candle lit vigil at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to commemorate 20 years since Marsinah's death - May 8, 2013 (Tempo)
Candle lit vigil at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to commemorate 20 years since Marsinah's death - May 8, 2013 (Tempo)

Ali Akhmad, Jakarta – As many as 29 women’s community groups from the Indonesian Women’s Action Committee (KAPI) commemorated 20 years since the murder of Marsinah by holding a candlelight vigil at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on the evening of May 8.

“We want to recall human rights problems that have been left hanging in the air”, said KAPI action coordinator Dina Ardiyanti.

Marsinah was born on April 10, 1969. She was a labour activist at the watch factory PT Catur Putra Surya in Porong, Sidoarjo, who was found dead in a shack on the edge of a rice field in the Wilangan sub-district of Nganjuk in East Java on May 8, 1993. To this day, Marsinah’s death remains a mystery because the killers have never been caught. She was found dead three days after being abducted.

The only defendants tried for her murder, the owner of PT Catur Putra, Yudi Susanto and several of his staff, were eventually declared not guilty by the Supreme Court. There are strong indications that the case involved members of the military during the New Order dictatorship of former President Suharto, although until this day, the case has never been fully resolved.

Prior to her death, Marsinah and other PT Catur Putra Surya workers went on strike making 12 demands of the factory. One of the demands that they company increase the daily wage from 1,700 to 2,250 rupiah. They were also fighting for an allowance of 550 rupiah per day.

These demands were in accordance with East Java Governor Circular Number 50/1992, which contained an appeal to employers to increase East Java workers’ basic wage by 20 percent.

In addition to lighting candles, the protesters also read out poems, gave cultural speeches and held a musical presentation. The event, said Ardiyanti, was held as a reminder that Indonesian nation still remembers Marsinah and are still seeking justice. “Marsinah’s death was a huge tragedy”, said Ardiyanti..

Thanks to her courage in fighting for workers rights during the New Order period, Marsinah received the Yap Thiam Hien human rights award in 1993. The Marsinah case has been given a special note by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and is known as case number 1713. The ILO has urged the Indonesian government to make a genuine effort to fully resolve the case. To this day however, the murder of this courageous worker remains a mystery.

[20 Tahun Kasus Marsinah Gelap, Aktivis Nyalakan Lilin – Tempo.co. Kamis, 09 Mei 2013. Translated by  James Balowski