By Annie Su
May 1998, Riots of Indonesia also know as The 1998 Tragedy, was an incident where there was mass violence against racial issues across Indonesia. My boyfriend, Reinardus Aditya, was Indonesian born Indonesian-Chinese who grew up in Sydney, Australia. That year, him and his family experienced this tragedy which changed their lives from then on. Here is his story.
Riots in Indonesia 1.1
It happened when they were driving from their Grandpa’s place back to theirs, from Jalan Kopo to Jalan Sukakarya, Bandung. He was in the car with his mum, dad and older sister when suddenly their car was getting mobbed by outsiders. Locking themselves in, they were traumatized, as the kids did not understand what was happening and could not grasp the situation. As the crowd cleared, they drove back home with multiple dents in their car.
Incidents started happening here and there. To an 8 year old, it was frightening and confusing as to why these people are trying to hurt his family. But as he grew older, he came to learn the politics and what happened that year. His father was once chased by an ex-worker with a machete. The reasons to all this was all because they were Indonesian-Chinese. The main victim targets of the violence were ethnic Chinese. His father liquidated all his assess in order to leave the country and start their live elsewhere, where he is able to protect his family. By the end of 1998, his family was safe in Sydney, Australia.
Indonesian-Chinese became victims of the local gangstas who also threatened the community with violence. Rumors and stories of sexual violence with perpetrators shouting anti-Chinese slogans and other abusive quotes shocked the Indonesians. The incident became a state-sponsored violence, making the government taking some measures and actions.
Riots in Indonesia 1.2
As news of Indonesian-Chinese were being attacked, it reached the international ethnic Chinese community. Weeks later, the aftermath of this tragedy still left locals fearing for their life and safety. Many businesses, banks and public places remained closed in populated and major cities in Indonesia. The riots started all because of economic problems, such as food shortage and mass unemployment. It has left quite a mark in history, as it was estimated that more than one thousand people died during the riots, 168 cases of rape that was reported and more than 3.1 trillion Rupiah of material that was damaged. Even up to 2010, legal procedures with the riots are still not completed. Even up until this day, he still feels the discrimination against Indonesian-Chinese, since they are the minority and what history has led to.
CNN 1998, Hundreds dead from Indonesian unrest, viewed 16 February 2017, <http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/asiapcf/9805/16/indonesia.update/>
Panggabean, S. 2010, Smith, B. 2010, ‘Explaining Anti-Chinese Riots in Late 20th Century Indonesia’, Essay, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, University of Florida, USA
Bloomberg 2017, Indonesia: The Plight Of The Ethnic Chinese, viewed 16 February 2017, <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/1998-08-02/indonesia-the-plight-of-the-ethnic-chinese-intl-edition>
ABC 2017, viewed 16 February 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/ra/img/news/base/feature/suharto_riots_rtr_feature.jpg?>
Wikimedia 2017, viewed 16 February 2017, <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/22/Jakarta_riot_14_May_1998.jpg>
Michigan State University, viewed 16 February 2017, <https://msu.edu/course/iss/325/stein/indonesia-unrest_1a.jpg>