California Pacific Triennale

Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), Newport Beach, California
30/06/2013 - 22/09/2013

Eko’s mural installation and embroideries draw from the Cebongan Prison raid event on 23 March 2013 in Yogyakarta by members of Indonesian Army special forces (Kopassus). Four men were being held at Cebongan Prison in Sleman, Yogyakarta on suspicion of having murdered former Kopassus First Sergeant. The raid abominably murdered the four prisoners, the act calling into question the transition of the military after the New Order regime to democracy in 1998. Kopassus is Indonesia’s most criticised military unit, with a long history of human rights abuses, from involvement in the killings of hundreds of thousands of Communist party members in 1965-67, to brutalities during the occupation of East Timor. Despite its resulting bad reputation for human rights abuses, one of the most remarkable features of the aftermath of the Cebongan killings was an apparently powerful campaign of support for the Kopassus soldiers who were trialed for the killings.

Many demonstrations involved large groups of enthusiastic supporters of the soldiers, suggesting that many people in Yogyakarta supported the killers for their ‘courage’ in trying to clean up crime in the city and ‘eradicate thugs’. Jogja saw the scattering of banners with various inscriptions such as THANK YOU NATIONAL POLICE / THANK YOU KOPASSUS / I LOVE TNI (Indonesian Army Force) / I LOVE NATIONAL POLICE / JOGJA IS NOT A THUG CITY and so forth, another orchestrated campaign coming from government officials. For Eko this event raises important questions due to the turbulence formed within the different groups of society. Politics, the military, and the governmental power continue to take important positions in these accidents to make temporary alliances of convenience in an alegedly democratic country.

Photo Courtesy of Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California