Tulisan Foto Grafis Video Audio Project
Kategori Inspiratif 7 September 2017   01:02 WIB
Fang Yin’s Handkerchief

Fang Yin’s Handkerchief

translated by Nate Lukinsky




She stares once more at the handkerchief

It’s no longer white; thirteen years have passed by

Holding a lighter in her hand, she prepares to burn it

So it becomes the ashes of the distant past


But just before the flames start to lick at it, her heart begins to shudder

Blowing out the flame, she is once again enshrouded by the quiet darkness

Opening her bedroom window, she looks out on the gloom of the night sky of L. A.

Which has been her home for the past thirteen years


Sad memories of her first week in this room flit by

When she cried herself to sleep each night

Yes, just call her Fang Yin, which means a field of fragrant grass

Her real name was kept secret, waiting until everything simmered down


At that time she was 22 years old

Compelled to flee Indonesia, the country of her birth

After being gang-raped by a mob

During the riots of 1998


What does Indonesia mean for me? Fang Yin whispers to herself

Thousands of ethnic Chinese fled Indonesia [1]

Following a pitch black May, after a May without order

After a May wallowing in anarchy and disorder [2]



That day the country carried on without a government

Law and order were abandoned, riots occurred here and there

Only shouts and screams were heard

Chase and pursue the Chinese! Kill Chinese! The masses were totally out of control


The sky turned black from the billowing smoke of arsonists’ fires

From the houses and burnt out stores

Everyone was alarmed, nobody had been prepared

To protect themselves from this savagery


One family decided to kill themselves

When confronted by looters whose eyes glowed like embers

Ready to pounce and burn down, ready to ransack any home or store

Ready to rape defenseless women


What does Indonesia mean to me? whispers Fang Yin to herself

Her life there as a young woman had already been forfeited

She could no longer feel the cool breeze

Because her previous happiness had been savagely confiscated from her


She recalled hearing a dog howling loud and long

As though to beg for assistance from the civil defense

They threw that poor beast into a pool

Where he thrashed until the water turned red with its blood



Fang Yin’s family sought refuge in America

Among a group of ethnic Chinese who left Indonesia

They lived in small enclaves in New York, Philadelphia

Los Angeles, New Jersey… small communities like Indonesian villages


During her first few weeks in America

Fang Yin was still not fully aware of what had happened to her

Both her body and soul were weak, she needed time to recuperate from her dreadful trauma

Wherever she went, she was accompanied by her parents and a psychiatrist


Three months after her arrival, her life started to become normal

She enrolled in an English language class, she wanted to continue her college education

But Fang Yin had already changed

She was no longer cheerful, she just wanted to be alone


When a young Korean approached her for conversation

Fang Yin distanced herself, worried that he would be no different

Than Kho, her old boyfriend in Jakarta

Who deserted her after learning she had been raped


She had already been living in America for 13 years, and her longing grew

To return to the land of her birth, Indonesia;

She was now turning thirty-five

She wanted to begin a new life and start a family


She wanted to have a husband, she wanted to have a child

She yearned to return to her hometown, where she had been born and raised

She missed her friends from her teenage years, she missed the time they spent together

Walking around and joking, chatting joyfully at Citraland Mall.


But her indignation at Indonesia was still raging

Her trauma from being raped still registered horror in her mind

Fang Yin abandoned her intentions of going back

She viewed Indonesia as a dark place from her past


Her memories of Kho were imprinted in her mind

She had no idea where this young man could be now

She unfolded a scrap of paper, a letter from 12 years ago

That she had intended to send him, but which she had always put off sending:


Kho, what’s new ?

I’m alone here

Your words used to accompany me

Especially during difficult times

This is the reason I accepted your love

I’m so distressed, Kho

I want to hear your voice again


She had often tried to reach him by phone

But she was never able to get through, as though he had just vanished

Perhaps Kho had also fled, but she had no idea where he might have gone

Fang Yin never heard anything about him again


The one and only keepsake from Kho

Which she was still holding onto

Was a handkerchief

Which she would often clutch tightly yet anxiously



She wanted to burn this memento from her past

The only remaining witness, a relic of her past trauma

She had kept it hidden but always at arm’s reach

She didn’t want anyone to disturb it


She stares once more at the handkerchief

She feels its surface, but what she really feels are

Traces of tear drops that had fallen in torrents and previously drenched it

A permanent part of her life


A year ago, the American psychiatrist had said

That she was nearly cured. And that she would recover completely

If she could earnestly accept and put aside her lost past

As one facet of the game of playing out one’s destiny as a human being


To the psychiatrist, Fang Yin owed the life spirit of her continued existence

Several times this young woman had nearly committed suicide

But because he accompanied her everyday

The soul of this child from a wealthy family was able to progress and recover each time


She repeated the mantra her psychiatrist had given her over and over again

She tried to comprehend what lay behind his special words:

Accept reality no matter how it presents itself!

Make peace with whatever happened in the past…


The following spring, she began to feel the effectiveness of her treatment

The past was no longer like a bomb waiting to explode in her head

However, the horrific memories were like buzzing bees that never stopped stinging

Her agony would not easily go away



She stares once again at the handkerchief:

It’s almost as if a movie is playing on its surface

She sees her old house in Kapuk, North Jakarta

A building with high walls


On either side were other similar houses

Whose high walls seemed to be competing

Which walls were the highest, which were the sturdiest

These houses were all inhabited by ethnic Chinese residents [3]


However, as tall as these walls stretched upwards

They proved unable to shield their inhabitants

They were unable to hold back the waves of rioters

Who were burning down Jakarta


That day was Tuesday, May 12, 1998.

Fang Yin did not attend college classes, she remained in her house

She just watched television

The stations were all broadcasting the same news about disturbances


On each campus, the professors’ lecterns stood empty

Riots raged everywhere and demonstrators

Demanded Soeharto’s resignation

It was understood that he could not alleviate the country’s economic crisis


Companies folded and went out of business

Jobs were scarce, unemployment was rampant

The cost of basic staple goods soared ever higher

The value of the local currency depreciated more each day


A student movement, initially a group of young demonstrators,

Became more active under the name of the Reformation Movement

It quickly transformed itself into huge waves of demonstrators

Which could not be held back anymore


On Tuesday afternoon on May 12, 1998

In front of Trisakti University

Four students were shot dead

On that ominous, ill-fated night

Seething outbreaks of riots and demonstrations spread


On Wednesday, May 13,

Thousands of students gathered

At Trisakti University

Prayers of mourning mixed with angry shouts resonated from the swarming mob


Nobody knows where this jungle materialized from

At mid-day, the streets were thronged with rabble

And, suddenly, a group of demonstrators began

To burn old tires in the middle of the street


Black smoke rose and billowed higher

Trucks that tried to pass were obstructed by the mob

And shouts began to echo, becoming wild:

Burn! Burn!


The masses, like a swarm of ants,

Surged to the center of the city

They descended from trucks that appeared suddenly

Nobody knows where they came from


The shouting now took a different direction

Chants of Burn Chinese! Burn Chinese! were heard

An angry mob, brawny and rugged,

Scoured the stores, offices, and dwellings belonging to Chinese

They forced their way into houses of the “squint-eyed” ethnic group

They dragged the residents outside, beat up the men

And raped the women. As the hours ticked slowly by

The number of these hooligans swelled


Accompanied by a maid, Fang Yin watched with horror

As more scenes of this savagery appeared on TV. She feared being ambushed and assaulted!

She called her father at his office, but he could not come home

The mobs flooded the streets, their numbers were uncountable



The specters she had always feared now materialized

The clamor of their voices were deafening to her ears

A throng of thugs had broken through the fence of her house

They entered and killed her guard dog, a German Shepherd


Her maid, who shouted for help, was knocked down

and beaten by the hooligans

Fang Yin ran and locked herself behind her bedroom door

She shouted, wailed, and begged for assistance


But nobody heard her… maybe her neighbors

Who were in the middle of confronting their own nightmare

Fang Yin’s bedroom door was smashed and breached, five men quickly entered

Men with muscular bodies dragged her to her bed


They pulled her by her hair

Her clothes were ripped and torn open

With harshness and cruelty

They hit and slapped her repeatedly


Fang Yin screamed and pled for mercy:

Please don’t… Please don’t…

I have money.

Please… Don’t…


They were like a pack of wolves

One thug held her left leg

Another stretched her right leg

A third lay on top of her body


Alas, her virginity was being snatched from her!

The other men waited to take their turn

They had brutal grins, none showed any mercy

For a young virgin


Fang Yin struggled as best as she could

She shouted as loud as she could

She lurched about in order to protect her honor

She hit and lunged at them as best as she could


Teetering between terrible pain and unimaginable anxiety

She chanced to hear the hooligans laughing

As they devoured and consumed her: Hihihihi… hahahaha…

Fang Yin lost consciousness



Fang Yin, ya, Fang Yin, you poor thing

When she opened her eyes

She realized that she was lying

In a hospital bed


On that day, Kho, her boyfriend, had come to pay her a visit

And he brought her a handkerchief

Fang Yin wiped her tears with it

The same handkerchief that would faithfully accompany her to America


Collected in that handkerchief was her first tear

Her second tear

Her tenth tear

Her one thousandth tear


Also sequestered there were her lonesome nights

When she implored God to just let her die

When she felt totally exhausted

As though she were lacking any bones

The handkerchief recorded all this like a diary


Rina, her best friend, caressed her

She had accompanied Kho when he visited her

Rina understood her very well

Rina helped her considerably


As the infusion dripped into her arm

Her father and mother cried as they hugged her

Fang Yin was beginning to recall what had happened to her

She began to visualize what she had experienced


Bruises were distributed all over her body

And remember: She had just been raped! [4]

Fang Yin screamed out very loudly

The whole hospital could hear her


Please… Please…

Have mercy, God

Please help me

Please have mercy on me…



Jakarta was like a sea of flames! Where were the civil defense brigades?

They were not seen at all

Riots propagated like wildfire

Spreading like a fire, slithering like a snake


The citizens of Jakarta were overwhelmed

So many people were entering the city

Just like that, who knows where they came from…

Nobody even knew who they were


They were just dropped off at a certain location

These men were stocky and brawny

They destroyed, they set fires

They looted— and the crowds were provoked to copy them


And when the crowds became too large

And when there was no authority or clear-cut rules

The looters just left that area, moving on

And the crowds ran amok without any clear reason


They fought over turf for plundering, competing and trying to outdo each other

Helter-skelter, piling down on each other while encircled by flames

In buildings which were set on fire

People were roasted alive-- and killed in vain [5]



Fang Yin and her family did not understand politics

Even more so military affairs [6]

They sought their income as merchants

And when they were bewildered, they had no idea whom to turn to or confide in


The earth of Indonesia was breaking down, the sky was full of lightning

Meanwhile, President Soeharto was on a state visit in Egypt

The situation became steadily worse

While everyone in Indonesia awaited the return of the President 


The year was 1998, the date was May 15

At 4:30 in the early morning

Soeharto declared his refusal to resign;

Anxiety peaked, serenity was destroyed


Chinese residents who had just begun to feel calm

Started to worry again that the mayhem might resume;

They sold their belongings at a steep discount

And prepared to flee abroad


Fang Yin was still lying on a hospital bed in a frail condition

She assumed that the riots would start anew

And that the same barbaric burly men

Would break in and rape her again


Daddy, what did I do wrong? Why was I raped?

What was it I did wrong, Daddy?

Her father did not respond

He just embraced his daughter very tightly


Kho, her boyfriend, remained silent and began to exhibit a cold attitude

Fang Yin yelled and screamed

A Chinese spiritual teacher tried to help her stop shrieking

He instructed her in the honorable path of Confucianism


He brought her a Chinese Zodiac

Fang Yin had been born in the Year of the Dragon, but 1998 was the Year of the Tiger

The Dragon was unfortunate and vulnerable in the current year

As a Dragon, Fang Yin had to accept her circumstances with an open heart


The spiritual teacher elaborated on the principles of Ren Dao

The teachings of interpersonal relationships

He brought a small book, the Moral Philosophy of Meng-zi

And read pithy excerpts to her:


Listen to me, Fang Yin:

What is unethical, do not observe it

What is unethical, do not listen to it

What is unethical, do not speak of it


With loving kindness, he kneaded Fang Yin’s temples

He looked intensely into her eyes and transferred his energy

He boosted her life spirit

And in a calm voice, he instructed her:


Fang Yin, this misfortune has already transpired

Let it pass from your memory. Begin a new life

Grace and sincerity will defeat misery and despair

Faith and convictions will defeat pain and suffering


Watching television at the hospital, Fang Yin heard this discussion:

In Indonesian history, Chinese residents

Had often been victims of riotous assaults [7]

Ughhhh… Fang Yin did not want to understand history…



Thus, a week after this traumatic event

Fang Yin and her family flew away to America

Not because they didn’t love Indonesia, her father said,

But because circumstances had forced them to leave


Her father had told her about a relative, her great grandfather

Who had fought for independence, a friend of Soekarno;

Sie Kok Liong was his name

He had been the owner of a building at 106 Kramat Raya Street


Indonesian nationalists held their Second Youth Congress at his building

This is where they made their famous Youth Pledge on October 28, 1928

Now 70 years later, what could Indonesia possibly mean for Fang Yin and her family?

They had to flee and seek refuge in America in order to save their lives



Now, 13 years after her tragic experience

Fang Yin heard rumors that Indonesia had become stable again

Several ethnic Chinese citizens had become government ministers

Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations were given legal protection


Barongsai Lion Dancers, swaying their costumes, were allowed to perform freely

Newspapers printed in Chinese were allowed to be published

Chinese language programs were broadcast on television

And Confucianism was recognized as an official religion [8]


Members of the Chinese Indonesian community who had expatriated

Occasionally met and shared stories about these positive developments

Many of them had changed their citizenship

And become citizens of the United States, Singapore, and other countries


For these émigrés, their time in Indonesia belonged to the past

A past that was stained jet-black

However, Chinese New Year celebrations still united the Chinese Diaspora

Regardless of differences of religion and nationality


Fang Yin’s father defiantly maintained a principle

Of refusing opportunities to apply for foreign citizenship

To Fang Yin, he often cautioned

And discouraged her from doing so:


Fang Yin, you are a lawful citizen of Indonesia

Do not change or replace your citizenship!

Her father learned of auspicious business opportunities

It was nearly time to return to Indonesia


And her father was especially angry when he found out

That Fang Yin had already altered her citizenship

She was already holding a United States passport

Which she was able to arrange through an immigration lawyer


Fang Yin had been told at great length by her father about Indonesia

So that her appreciation would grow for the great archipelagic country

The nation that her family had previously defended

Since the days of the nationalist movement that had involved her great grandfather


Fang Yin was a diligent reader

The libraries in Los Angeles offered a large variety of books

The books provided all kinds of knowledge

And knowledge has the power to change people


But this young woman was already confident about herself

She was adamant about not seeing Indonesia again

Her father had already given up trying

To persuade Fang Yin to fly back and resume life there again


And when her parents finally returned to Indonesia

Fang Yin remained resolute

To remain living in America on her own

She espoused its modern culture, she was supported by its freedoms


Fang Yin enjoyed the protection which American law afforded her

This was one reason she was still angry at Indonesia

Fang Yin shunned savagery and violence

This was the main issue that caused her to loathe Indonesia


However, coral can also be agitated by a large wave

The ocean can gradually break it down to a beach of sand

What changes have not occurred under the Sun’s steady rays?

Her father’s advice was already starting to take root and blossom


America is just a temporary place to sojourn in

But we were born in Indonesia, so it would be best that we die there too

The wounds of the past must be disregarded

Our love for our native land must be enhanced


And so, step by step and with acute difficulty

Fang Yin’s anger gradually receded

Although her grief from the disturbances of May, 1998

Still haunted her like a ghost


Fang Yin’s sense of her own identity had become more cultivated and refined

Over the years, she had eagerly read many books on philosophy, religion, politics, and literature.

Her acquisition of knowledge shaped her personality

Her long period of suffering had truly seasoned her approach to life


And after 13 years had solemnly passed by

Fang Yin began to feel a sense of longing

She began to recall the positive aspects of her teenage years in Jakarta

Without fully realizing it, she called out to Albert Kho, her first love


Wherefore art thou, my sweetheart?

Since moving to America,

There had not been any further contact between them

Only the handkerchief bore silent witness to this long-lost relationship


Through the grapevine, she received news: Kho already had a family

Rina was the name of his wife, previously one of Fang Yin’s closest friends

She was also of ethnic Chinese descent

The two of them had apparently converted and become Muslims


She reflected back on the last time Kho and Rina

Had visited her in the hospital 13 years before

Fang Yin could only remain silent, immobilized by her horrific pain

She was eventually abandoned by these two souls who had been so close to her heart



Fang Yin once again knelt in front of the handkerchief

She had clicked on the lighter

She wanted to burn the last vestiges of any lingering memories of her boyfriend

These past memories had to be erased immediately from her mind


I must also forget everything about Albert Kho, she told herself

The hand that held the lighter began to tremble again

She was afraid, as though the fire would scorch something deep inside her

And then no fire would ever inflame her passion again


Fang Yin began to cry

Slowly at first, then she wept in long stretches

She tried to restrain herself

So that nobody else could hear her bitter cathartic cries


She lit the lighter once more

And without any further deliberation, she incinerated the handkerchief

The fire rose higher until the whole handkerchief was consumed with flames

She watched until every atom of it had been transformed to ashes


Her past had been immolated

Her long years of suffering had also been immolated

Her love for Kho had been incinerated

Her jealousy of Rina had also been consumed in the flames.


And her anger toward Indonesia

It too had been burnt, in what appeared to be a ritual of self-purification

It seemed as though the whole universe had stopped

Time became still and stretched out


And the handkerchief had become a small pile of ashes

Fang Yin felt as though she had been born again

Like she had become a totally new woman

Cleansed and free of her horrific past.


Her dripping tears had accompanied the flames,

The handkerchief was no more.

She had finally been able to make peace with her past

She was able now to be reborn as a new Fang Yin.


Absorbed in fervent prayer, she beseeched: Oh, God. Please boost my courage

I now intend to return to my native land

Permit me to spend the rest of my life there

The soil that witnessed my birth will be the soil in which I am later laid to rest



What could Indonesia mean for Fang Yin?

She had not asked to be born there

When her trauma was still a gaping open sore

Indonesia had been a place that would always remain mired in pain


Now she viewed Indonesia with different eyes

The country was a mirror within her that reflected constant change

She wanted to be like her great grandfather

Who was born, who had made a living, struggled for independence, and then died there


Indonesia had now entered her heart

Like coconut palm leaves waving in the breeze

Beckoning her to return quickly home

Fang Yin felt homesick and shed some tears


According to the Chinese calendar, 2012 was the Year of the Dragon

This would be auspicious for her

She longed for her teenage years

She yearned for a place in her past where she had spent her evenings in Jakarta


Thirteen years ago, she arrived in America

Carrying a load of terrible anger

Carrying a heavy grudge of resentment

Toward Indonesia


Now she wanted to go home, her longing was burning hot

She longed for an Indonesia that was like herself: victorious in defying the past

Calamities and disasters would undoubtedly surface

What was most important was to always have a dream


There was a new Indonesia, they said

Yes, yes, her impetus to return became strong: I will return right away!

I will go back home to Indonesia!

I will quickly return to live there!



1 : In this essay poem, the terms “Tionghoa” and “Chinese” refer to the same ethnic group. “Tionghoa” is often used as a neutral expression, whereas “Chinese” (“Cina”) more often has a negative connotation, which was adopted when mobs of rioters hurled anti-Chinese insults in 1998.

2 : Approximately 70,000 ethnic Chinese residents left Indonesia in the aftermath of the violent riots and looting that occurred in May, 1998. For additional information, see: Ivan Wibowo (editor), COKIN: So What Gitu Lho! (Jakarta: Komunitas Bambu-Jaringan Tionghoa Muda, 2008), page viii.

3 : The exclusive neighborhoods that became the areas of settlement and residence for ethnic Chinese Indonesians correspond to the policy of the Dutch colonial administration in Jakarta in the past centuries. The Dutch deliberately chose to segregate Chinese residents to reduce their interactions with native–born (“Pribumi”) Indonesians. The reason is that the Dutch feared that their colonial authority would be diminished or jeopardized if such social interactions occurred. This policy was called Wijkenstelsel, whereby the Dutch authorities created residential areas specifically for ethnic Chinese in various large towns in the Dutch East Indies (Dutch East India Company / Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie / VOC). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Indonesians It is odd that this model of residential planning is still preserved even in the current decade.

4 : On May 13-14, 1998, many young Chinese women suffered a fate that was similar or worse than Fang Yin’s traumatic experience. Violence directed against ethnic Chinese women occurred not only in Jakarta but also in Bandung, Surakarta (Solo), Medan, Makassar, and other Indonesian cities. Tim Gabungan Pencari Fakta (Joint Team for Fact-Finding) listed 78 Chinese women who had been raped, 85 had suffered some form of sexual violence, including penetration with sharp instruments. Fatal casualties among the Indonesian Chinese community were recorded at approximately 1,217 deaths, mainly from being burned by fires set by arsonists (1,190 people); nonfatal casualties were reported at 91 injured individuals; an additional 31 individuals from the Chinese community were reported missing. See: Ester Indahyani Jusuf, Hotma Timbul, Olisias Gultom, Sondang Frishka; Kerusuhan Mei 1998 Fakta, Data, dan Analisa: Mengungkap Kerusuhan Mei 1998 Sebagai Kejahatan Terhadap Kemanusiaan / Expressing the Violent Disturbances of May 1998 as Crimes Against Humanity (Jakarta: SNB dan APHI, 2007), page 177.

5 : On May 13, 1998, the day after the outbreak of the riots, Indonesian Army generals reportedly visited the town of Malang (East Java), where they attended a commando operations ceremony (Kodal) for Rapid-Response Strike Forces (PPRC) from Divisions 1 and 2. The public disturbances were still happening, and casualties of the violence were found lying on city streets. When the violence broke out, President Soeharto was in Cairo, Egypt, attending a high-level conference of G-15 nations. With full confidence, he flew out from Indonesia on May 9, 1998 because he believed that no serious incidents, such as major riots or a coup d’etat, would occur during his absence, especially since small-scale demonstrations were a routine and easily manageable occurence. See, for example, Tjipta Lesmana, From Soekarno Until SBY: Intrigue and the Political Lobbies of Indonesia’s Strongmen (Jakarta: Gramedia, 2009), page 120.

6 : Some commentators have stated that a rivalry was transpiring between Prabowo and Wiranto. Prabowo, the Lieutenant General of the Indonesian Army (TNI), who in 1998 was in charge of the Pangkostrad, wanted to prevail against Wiranto, the senior-ranking general who served as the Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces (Panglima ABRI). Prabowo was accused of masterminding the events at Trisakti University; however, Prabowo and his supporters have always denied any complicity in the deaths of the four students. Prabowo was also been accused of close connections with major organizers of the Reformation Movement. He was also suspected of approving a demand for Soeharto’s resignation. These political commentators believe that Prabowo was greasing the wheels to facilitate his own assumption of power to the presidency. In the meantime, it is believed that General Wiranto supported Soeharto’s bid to remain in power as Indonesia’s president. Consequently, when Harmoko, the Chairman of the MPR, demanded Soeharto’s resignation, Wiranto declared that this was Harmoko’s personal position, which contravened the Indonesian Constitution and was therefore an illegal request. Thus, a lot of gossip was propagated. An interesting study related to this history can be found at: Dian Andika Winda and Efantino Febriana, Rivalitas Wiranto-Prabowo: Dari Reformasi 1998 hingga Perebutan RI-1 (Yogyakarta: Bio Pustaka, 2009).

7 : Numerous cases of anti-Chinese disturbances that have occurred are listed below: (quoted from http://sosbud.kompasiana.com/2011/05/11/riwayat-kerusuhan-rasial-di-indonesia/ … See also Karta Raharja Ucu, “Tionghoa dan Sejarah Kelam Kerusuhan di Indonesia”, http://today.co.id/index.php?kategori=nasional&sub=nasional&detail=8182 )

Bandung, 10 May 1963. The largest anti-Chinese disturbances in West Java began with some fighting between “native” (Pribumi) and “non-native” students at the campus of the Bandung Institute of Technology ITB). These fights triggered disturbances that spread beyond Bandung to other cities, such as Yogyakarta, Malang, Surabaya, and Medan.


Pekalongan, December 31, 1972. Clashes broke out between residents of Arab and ethnic Chinese descent. These disturbances began at the funeral of a Chinese youth who had been killed in a fight.

Palu, June 27, 1973. A group of youths ransacked some Chinese-owned stores. These disturbances broke out because a Chinese store owner was using paper with Arab writing to wrap his goods.

Bandung, August 5, 1973. A minor collision that occurred between a pushcart and a car initiated interethnic disturbances. The passengers in the car were apparently Chinese; as a result, rioting was ignited throughout Bandung.

Ujungpandang (Makassar), April, 1980. Suharti, a household maid died suddenly of unknown causes. Unfounded rumors spread that she had been abused by her Chinese employers. Racial disturbances were triggered. Hundreds of houses and stores belonging to ethnic Chinese were ransacked.

Medan, April 12, 1980. A group of college students who attended USU (The University of Northern Sumatera) rode motorcycles through Medan while shouting out anti-Chinese slogans. These disturbances were precipitated by student altercations.

Solo, November 20, 1980. Riots overtook the city of Solo (Surakarta) and spread to other towns in Central Java. These disturbances resulted from a quarrel between two students at a sports teacher training school, Pipit Supriyadi (a female “native” Indonesian) and Kicak, a young ethnic Chinese male. This conflict escalated and led to the destruction and setting fire to stores owned by Chinese residents.

Surabaya, September, 1986. A household maid who was working for a Chinese employer was physically abused. This incident fueled anti-Chinese hostility among Surabayans, who threw rocks at cars and shops owned by ethnic Chinese.

Pekalongan, November 24, 1995. Yoe Sing Yung, a grocery store owner who suffered from bouts of mental illness, tore a copy of the holy Koran. As a consequence of this deed, the local people became angry and destroyed stores that belonged to ethnic Chinese.

Bandung, January 14, 1996. A large crowd of youth ran amok following an Iwan Fals concert. The rowdy crowd threw stones at Chinese-owned stores. This event was triggered by disappointment that they had been unable to obtain tickets for the concert.

Rengasdengklok, January 30, 1997. Disturbances occurred after an ethnic Chinese resident complained about the loud early morning call to prayer from adjacent mosques. Consequently, the local population ran amok and destroyed houses and shops belonging to Chinese people.

Ujungpandang (Makassar), September 15, 1997. Benny Karre, a mentally disturbed man of ethnic Chinese descent, slashed a young “native” (Pribumi) child. This ignited anti-Chinese disturbances in which shops were burned and destroyed.

February, 1998. Anti-Chinese disturbances were reported in many towns and islands in Java and NTT (the Lesser Sunda Islands).

May 5-8, 1998. Anti-Chinese disturbances were reported in Sumateran towns. Dissatisfaction with the inability of Indonesian politicians to manage the economic crisis resulted in anger being vented at the Chinese community.

Jakarta, May 12-14, 1998. In the aftermath of the deaths of 4 students at Trisakti University, various political groups diverted the anger of huge crowds of protestors to foment massive violence against the Chinese community in Central and North Jakarta. These three days witnessed the worst anti-Chinese disturbances in the history of the Republic of Indonesia. Hundreds of ethnic Chinese lost their lives in arson attacks, and tens of women were raped.

Solo, May 14, 1998. Political dissatisfaction was transformed by certain political groups into disturbances that vented this anger against the local Chinese community.

8 : A significant advance for the civil rights of Indonesian minority groups was achieved in an Indonesian government law regulating Indonesian nationality (Law No. 12/2006 / UU No. 12 Tahun 2006), which stated in Paragraph 2: “Indonesian citizenship shall be recognized for native-born Indonesians as well as Indonesians of other ethnic origin who have been conferred with citizenship rights according to these laws.” This in effect meant that the rights and privileges of Indonesian citizenship would be afforded to the ethnic Chinese community in Indonesia, thus extending constitutional and legal protection to this and other Indonesian minority groups.


Karya : Denny JA