Thursday, May 20, 2004

Black May 1998: 6th Commemoration (21 of 40)

Memorial to Commemorate 1998 Riots
By Fabiola Desy Unidjaja and Leony Aurora, Jakarta
The Jakarta Post (Friday, May 14, 2004)

President Megawati Soekarnoputri attended a ceremony on Thursday evening to dedicate the Monumen Persaudaraan (Brotherhood Monument) at the Lindeteves Trade Center, just across from the protected Candranaya Chinese mansion, in West Jakarta.

Megawati said in her speech that the May riots six years ago not only claimed lives but also resulted in hatred and trauma.

"We only recognize Indonesian citizens or foreigners living in the country. So don't refer to yourselves as descendants of particular ethnic groups," she said.

"The Republic of Indonesia Citizenship Certificate (SBKRI) is no longer needed," she added, referring to a document that has been required by Chinese-Indonesians when applying for passports and other documents.

During the ceremony, a 44-year-old victim of the May riots, Iwan Firman, said he had forgiven those who had harmed him. Iwan was left permanently handicapped in the riots.

The construction of the monument was initiated by the Chinese-Indonesian Reform Movement (Parti). The monument was designed by noted sculptor Nyoman Nuarta, famous for his Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue in Jimbaran, Bali.

"The monument is half finished," Nuarta told The Jakarta Post by phone.

The monument depicts two men -- one of Chinese descent and another indigenous -- holding the Garuda state emblem. It symbolizes reconciliation and the will to develop the country together. The monument will be completed within a month.

In the initial plan, the monument was to be erected in the park in front of Kota Railway Station, West Jakarta.

The local administration opposed the plan, arguing that the park would be overcrowded because there was already a fountain and a busway station.

Nuarta said the current location was not ideal as it was not spacious enough.

The May 1998 riots, which led to the downfall of former president Soeharto, have never been fully investigated even though there were reports of thousands of people killed and dozens of women, mostly Chinese-Indonesians, raped.

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