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Housewife opposing mining company charged with 'spreading communist ideas'

IDN Times - July 14, 2018

Fitria Madia, Surabaya – At a glance, no one would be suspicious of Dwi Ratna Sari. The 24-year-old housewife sat alongside others at a discussion titled Heri Budiawan Demands Justice at the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices in the East Java provincial of Surabaya on Saturday July 14.

She listened attentively to the discussion, occasionally taking pictures with her cellphone.

Who however would suspect that Ratna has been declared a suspect by police on charges of spreading communist or Marxist-Leninist ideas under Article 107 of Law Number 27/1999 on State Security.

The charges originate from a protest action by Sumberagung village residents against mining activities by the companies PT Bumi Suksesindo (BSI) and PT Damai Suksesindo (DSI) at Tumpang Pitu Mountain in Banyuwangi on April 4, 2017.

Ratna, who was informed by a neighbour that there was an anti-mining demonstration, immediately headed off to join the protest which was being held at the Red Island tour gate.

"I wanted to defend by living space, my land of birth and my future grand children. My house is on the foot of the Tumpang Pitu mountain", she said. Ratna, who has a three-year-old child, took part in the action including putting up banners until 1pm.

Riding on her motorcycle, she followed the scores of protesters articulating their demands and putting up banners alongside the road. "There were perhaps around 11 banners containing resident's opposition to the mine", she recalled.

When they arrived at the Pesanggaran sub-district office, the protesters rested for a while having marched for around two hours.

"Some sat down, some had a drink. We wanted to continue on to the Lowi intersection in Sumberagung. Towards late afternoon more and more people joined in until we didn't know who exactly was taking part", she related, occasionally adjusting her veil.

Ratna, who at the time was wearing a white T-shirt with the message, "Reject the Tumpang Pitu Mine", continued her story.

While she was resting on her motorcycle, the residents invited her to be photographed in front of the sub-district office holding up several of the leftover banners. Ratna left her motorcycle which was around 50 metres away from a group of other residents.

"Come on, hold this one", said Ratna mimicking the call of one of the residents who had already unfurled a banner. Ratna immediately grabbed one end of a banner which was also being held by Tri and Andreas, two other residents who have now also been declared suspects by police.

Finished with the photos, Ratna rejoined the march still holding the banner, which as it turned out, had a logo resembling a hammer-and-sickle.

"I didn't have any idea that the banner I was holding had a hammer-and-sickle logo. We thought that like from the first the banners just had the demands of us residents – we thought it was just the same", she confessed.

Two days after the action, Ratna received a notification from the Pesanggaran sectoral police saying that she, Tri and Andreas had been reported to the Banyuwangi district police on charges related to the 1999 law against spreading Marxist-Leninist teachings which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years jail.

Ratna, who at the time knew nothing about the banner was shocked and confused about the meaning of the notification. "I was especially confused because I didn't know anything about it. The police just said okay if you don't know anything tell us what you do know", she said.

Two months after being declared a witness, she suddenly received a notification stating that she had now been declared a suspect.

"I asked how come I've become a suspect? What was my crime? Instead [of answering] they just said I was still a suspect", she said half-mumbling.

To this day, Ratna remains a suspect although the Banyuwangi district police have taken no follow up action against Ratna and her two friends.

Now, Ratna is planning to go to the Supreme Court to request that she be released from the charges and to again return to the fight over Tumpang Pitu Mountain, the fortified protector of the Banyuwangi people.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was Ratna, Penolak Tambang Banyuwangi yang Dituduh Komunis.]

Source: https://www.idntimes.com/news/indonesia/fitria-madia/ratna-penolak-tambang-banyuwangi-yang-dituduh-komunis.

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