Skip to main content

Sound and Silence in the Land of the Rencong

FROM behind a wooden boat can be heard the ululation of a woman: "Lailaha Ilallah, Lailaha Ilallah" (There is no god other than Allah). The woman is in tears at the sight of her husband's corpse lying before her in a pool of blood. The seawater in the boat is turning red with blood.

Jalil, 50, was the first civilian casualty of the military operation in Aceh, the Land of the Rencong (an Acehnese dagger with a curved handle). On Thursday last week, an Army Special Forces Command (Kopassus) unit was pursuing Free Aceh Movement (GAM) members who had fled by sea near Matangnibong, Peurlak, East Aceh. Jalil's fate was sealed when soldiers became suspicious his vessel was carrying GAM members. Shots were fired and Jalil lost his life.

After the army's error became clear, a soldier asked: "Didn't you hear us ordering you to get to the shore?" "No, we didn't," Jalil's wife replied. Almost complete silence followed. Finally Capt. Iwan Setiawan, the senior Indonesian officer at the scene, asked locals to bury Jalil's body. Once again only silence followed.

In the Land of the Rencong, sound and silence now both carry a terrible weight. At one moment there is the sound of gunfire. Then it is quiet. Some time later comes the sound of weeping. Then it is quiet, again.

In villages in the hinterland of Bireun and Lhokseumawe, the schools were razed by fire. As local people gathered at the scene, the crackling sound of burning wood could still be heard. But after the buildings had burned down, only the warmth of the scorched earth and wind-blown ashes from burnt books were left. All was quiet, as if nothing had happened.

As Indonesian aircraft delivered their payload of paratroopers, a great buzzing sound filled the sky. This, too, lasted only briefly. Night fell and the lights went out as GAM members took out the electricity poles. Silence overtook everything.

Sound and silence advance in tandem in the wake of the Indonesian Military operation. They take turns delivering their message of sorrow.

Arif Zulkifli, Abdul Manan (Lhokseumawe)

TEMPO, JUNE 02, 2003-038/P. 28 Heading Cover Story

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Melacak Akar Terorisme di Indonesia

Judul: The Roots of Terrorism in Indonesia: From Darul Islam to Jemaah Islamiyah Penulis: Solahudin Penerbit: University of New South Wales, Australia Cetakan: Juli 2013 Halaman: 236

Kronologis Penyerbuan Tomy Winata ke TEMPO

Oleh: Ahmad Taufik, Wartawan Majalah TEMPO Prolog Peristiwa yang terjadi pada hari Sabtu, 8 Maret 2003, telah menodai kemanusiaan dan kehidupan yang beradab di negeri ini. Sekelompok orang dengan uang yang dimilikinya mengerahkan massa, menteror dan berbuat sewenang-wenang. Aparat keamanan (polisi) juga tidak berdaya, dan dipermalukan di depan masyarakat (minimal saksi mata dan saksi korban). Apa yang akan saya ceritakan disini adalah kronologi penyerbuan yang tak beradab dan penyelesaian akhir yang terputus. Saya sebagai saksi mata, saksi pelaku sekaligus saksi korban (yang mendengar, melihat dan merasakan kejadian). Saya akan klasifikasikan secara terbuka dalam laporan ini: apa itu informasi, yang saya lihat, saya dengar, saya rasakan, analisa atau kesimpulan. Soal kata akhir terserah masing-masing pihak yang tersangkut disini, karena saya tidak bisa terima dan sekaligus tertekan secara psikis. Inilah laporan lengkapnya: Rabu, 5 Maret 2003 Saya ditelepon oleh Desmon J.Mahesa, kuasa h