Press Releases - Suara Ibu Peduli (SIP)

from the audience. However, after much arguing, the defendants managed to get their material by stepping out of the courtroom and retrieving it from the security guards.

The trial recommenced by putting forward two witnesses: Iman Sufi (47) and Wagimin (37), two policemen who were supposedly present at the site of the demonstration. They were subjected to cross-questioning both by the judge as well as by the defense lawyers. Iman claimed that there were 15 women at the roundabout (in reality there were at least 40), carrying posters and banners, singing songs and praying. When asked why he only took in three women, he said it was because he only had the capacity to capture three, which was greeted with laughter by the audience. He also testified, incorrectly, that the women gave out flowers to people in their cars, which was the reason for the traffic jam. Under oath, Iman Sufi gave testimony which was clearly false and contradictory: how could 15 people be holding banners, posters, singing, praying, and handing out red roses at the same time? This was a question that the judge herself asked. Iman also claimed that Gadis and Wilasih jumped voluntarily into the truck, after Karlina had gotten in - forcibly - when in fact all of then were pushed into the truck.

During Iman's cross-questioning, the judge displayed the banners and posters which had been seized by the police during the incident to have the evidence verified by him as well as by Karlina. In effect this display became another opportunity to show the audience and the press the nature of the demonstration. One of the banners had the concerns of SIP written on it (to have healthy families whose basic needs are guaranteed; good nutrition for children; education for the future generation; safety and security for everyone) , while the posters had slogans such as " Mothers Struggle for the Children of the Nation", "Peaceful Demonstration of Love", "Mothers are Pillars of the Nation" and other non-provocative statements.

As it turned out, Wagimin, the second witness, was not even present at the scene of the demonstration, so the cross-questioning did not last long. The three other witnesses were from the defense: Prof. Toeti Heraty Roosseno (64), professor of philosophy at the University of Indonesia, Tieneke Syaraswati Arif Ms. Ed. (58), psychologist, lecturer at the faculty of medicine, University of Indonesia, and Veronica (37), a SIP supporter. Basically they described events as they saw it, while Toeti also admitted that she supported SIP by providing funds for the milk campaign. Since she knew Karlina and Gadis well, both being former students of hers, and also teaching at the same faculty as she did, she believed in their good intentions and felt they were independent enough to make their own judgement regarding their actions.

The judge asked, "Didn't you anticipate the effect of the demonstration? We support the aims of the demonstration, but we are a lawful state and have to abide the law". Her statement was again met by jeers from the crowd. Toeti replied, "There are things which are more important. Those who are more privileged, intellectual and knowledgeable are now trying to play an active, social role. Even the researchers at LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Sciences, a government institution) signed a petition protesting the current crisis, demanding a change in the national leadership. In this country, the only institutions that exist are those that do not channel people's democratic aspirations". But Toeti added, she left the Hotel Indonesia at 11.00 to go to the U.I. campus at Depok, and later on in the evening to Holland, so she knew nothing more of the demonstration.

Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, head of the defense team, then asked Toeti what she knew of the background of SIP. She said she knew that they had three main reasons: to help those in need because of rising prices, especially milk; the economic crisis in general, and, the crisis of trust. "Can we believe what we read in the media or the speeches of government officials?" Toeti also underlined the fact that women in general are not involved in decision making, but have to bear the heaviest burden as a result of those decisions made by the government. When Nursyahbani asked her what she knew about the SIP movement, Toeti replied that the term ''movement'' implies something planned, when in fact the strength of SIP is in its spontaneity. Wilarsih joining in just like that was proof of this.

Nursyahbani also pointed out that the trial is not merely about the violation of Article 510, but more about the threat against a citizen's personal freedom and freedom of expression. However, the judge insisted to limit the trial to Article 510. She then proceeded to cross-examine the defendants about SIP activities in general and specifically about the demonstration at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout. She repeatedly questioned them - to the point of badgering - about why they did not try to get a permit, and why they did not anticipate that the demonstration would draw attention? Karlina replied, " We didn't have time. Hungry babies don't have time to wait. In any case, the cry of a baby is more important than the parliamentary session, even though it cost Rp. 44.7 billion", which was met by clapping from the audience. In any case she said, "Prayers are not banned in this country. And since when does prayer cause people to feel threatened? Usually, prayer has the effect of making people feel safe". She added, it was precisely police intervention which caused the traffic jam. If they had been allowed to carry on with their activities, no traffic jam would have happened.

In her cross-exam of Gadis, the judge asked questions around the background of SIP, the nature of Jurnal Perempuan (the journal of which Gadis is editor, whose office is the site of the milk distribution), as well as the nature of the milk campaign. When asked about why they didn't try to get a permit, Gadis' line of argument was around the right to freedom of expression. The defense team's cross-questioning of the defendants was centred around the treatment by the police. An interesting point arose when Karlina stated that the police claimed they seized the evidence (posters and banner) from her house on January the 10th, which was clearly untrue, since the idea for the demonstration itself was only a few days before it actually happened (on February 23, 1998).

The proceedings took much longer than expected, without any break for lunch or refreshments. A number of times the defendants pleaded for a break, if only for five minutes to have a drink. The defense lawyers also asked to continue the trial on another day so that they could better prepare their arguments. However, the judge insisted that she had already exercised tolerance beyond the usual scope of such a case, which is normally dealt with in a few hours. Therefore, despite extreme fatigue and hunger on everyone's part, the trial was continued.

Karlina, Gadis and Wilasih read out their defense statements, which to a large extent were summaries of what they had already recounted throughout the course of the trials. In her defense, Nursyahbani stated that the trial was not merely about a minor infraction - it was about the limitation of individual freedom and freedom of expression. Also, she felt that the trial was not accountable, among others because: the warrant for the arrest of the defendants was given and signed only one hour before the 24-hour legal limit to keep someone in detention; in the police report it was stated that the evidence (the posters, banners and flowers) were taken from the house of Karlina on January 10, 1998 at 21.30, which was clearly not the case. Most importantly, what the defendants did was not a criminal act, so there was no reason for them to be arrested. The trial she said, in fact, was about the arrogance of power against human rights and the virtue of mothers. But even from a technical point of view, it cannot be said that the defendants were staging a procession, as they were practically static, staying only in one place, and never stepped on the street before the policemen herded them there.

The judge read out the verdict: guilty as charged. The verdict was based on judicial considerations as well as judicial facts. She also stated that it is the right of a security personnel to take in persons they consider 'suspicious', and also presented evidence in the form of 7 posters, 3 banners and a bunch of rotten roses, which the defendant (Karlina) admitted was hers. The judge also stressed that the court's decision is based on what happened inside the court, not outside. She considered the Hotel Indonesia to be a public place, and insisted that what the defendants did can be considered as staging a 'procession', without a permit. Therefore, while she agrees and approves of the aims of the demonstration, and even considers it a noble cause, the defendants were still guilty of violating Article 510 because they were aware of what they were doing. She conceded that it was a minor offence, and that their struggle would arouse a lot of sympathy. It was apparent that the judge was split in her attitude as a human being and as a judge working for the Indonesian judicial system. As the former, she sympathized greatly with SIP's cause; as the latter, she had to do what was expected of her under the circumstances, even if it meant manipulating the facts to achieve her aim.

Despite the fact that the trial lasted from 10.30 to 18.30, the courtroom remained full until the end, with at least 300 people remaining. As with the first trial on March 5, the courtroom was filled to overcapacity, starting with about 500 people (correction: at the first trial there were about 300, not 100 people attending as was mentioned in the previous press release). In the middle of the proceedings, Emil Salim ( former environment minister and Indonesia's alternative vice-president) came with his wife, and was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd with cries of "Our future President!". Before he arrived, five members of the Human Rights Commission were already present: Prof. Dr. Saparinah Sadli, Djoko Soegianto, Clementino dos Reis Amaral, Koesparmono Irsan, and BM Marbun.

On the day of the trial, Berar Fathia, a PDI member who had nominated herself three times to be President, was arrested on the site of the courthouse for having in her possession pamphlets containing among others the following points:

1. Rejecting President Suharto's accountability speech and announcing a cooperation between the supporters of Megawati and herself, under the name Megabet (Mega-Berar-Rakyat, or people).

2. Calling parliament to postpone the presidential elections until an agreement had been reached between the forces of the people and social-political organizations.

3. Announcing to all of the Indonesian people that she was an alternative candidate for President of Indonesia for the period 1998-2003.

She was detained only one day for questioning, but was released not long after.

As was the case during the last trial, SIP also received support from The Professional Group for Democracy who handed out a statement on the position regarding the SIP trial. Basically they saw it as yet another attempt by the government to kill people's voices and conscience. The trial was covered extensively by both the foreign and local press.

A few days after the trial, the defense lawyers submitted a statement of appeal on behalf of the three women. Since there is a backlog and deadlock of cases at the Supreme Court, it may take months, to have the case seen to.

Julia I. Suryakusuma, for SIP tel. 7543846, fax 7543879, Hph. 0811-968.294, Email

As there have been two events two days on a row, March 8 and 9, the press releases for both events have been put together as one. Apologies for the tardiness of the delivery as I was taken seriously ill for almost a fortnight. I shall also be reducing my activities as SIP Public Relations, so please address enquiries also to Karlina (0811-143493, Email ) or Gadis (0816-852053, email ), or to the Jurnal Perempuan office (telfax 391.1230) [JIS]

Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 07:45:54 +0100 (MET)

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