Maria Catarina Sumarsih: "A life cannot be exchanged for money!"

Maria Catarina Sumarsih:"A life cannot be exchanged for money!"

Maria Catarina Sumarsih is an Indonesian Catholic mother who lost a son named Benardinus Irawan during a bloody repression perpetrated by the Indonesian army in 1998. He was murdered during a student demonstration against the regime of General Suharto.

Since this tragedy, Mrs. Sumarsih has never tired of demanding justice for her son, as well as for all other victims of abuse committed by the Indonesian government. It has been two decades of relentless struggle, despite pressure and intimidation.

The cry of this 70-year-old mother seemed to have finally been heard, when Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, was elected president in 2014. Indeed, the latter promised to bring justice to the victims of human rights violations in the country. However, she had to wait until January 11, 2023, before hearing a public apology from the current Indonesia's head of state.

"I have sympathy and empathy for the victims and their families," said Jokowi. Then he added that the government will try to restore the rights of the victims with a possible judicial review of the case. This, however, without specifying the means of its realization. For Mrs. Sumarsih, like so many other bereaved mothers, the word of the Indonesian president remains an empty word. In an interview with KompasTV, Mrs. Sumarsih said she was offered a package of government aid as compensation for her son's death, which she categorically rejected.

"I do not accept reconciliation without a judicial process, because it endorses impunity for the perpetrators. Especially since it does not guarantee that similar abuses will not be repeated in the future. This kind of reconciliation is actually far from the humanistic values advocated by the Pancasila (National Philosophy of Indonesia). A life cannot be exchanged for money!"

Maria Catarina Sumarsih: "A life cannot be exchanged for money!" - † Chrétiens en Indonésie † (
Dennis LeRoy Williams
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