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Marsinah accuses

Published: Sep 29, 2007

The spirit of Marsinah speaks out in this chilling extract from RATNA SARUMPAET's monologue in her memory.


The voices of the past die away, but Marsinah looks even more distressed and angry. She drops to the floor wearily. She speaks, as if to herself.

I see so many blood-stained hands ... I see how greed can be perpetuated, How capitalists can keep raking in profits, Managers and those in power continue to laugh

and chat over every drop of my sweat. But if a lowly worker like me dares open her mouth to demand a pay rise? She'll be killed. And now, see how they're using my death for humanity's sake; For upholding justice; For improving the lot of workers. [....]

Improving the lot of workers ... How can the death of a lowly worker

like me possibly cause workers to be treated humanely in a sick society?

The pounding voices of the past begin again,

startling Marsinah. But she is not afraid.

I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. (to her companions) I'm not afraid. (to the voices) I can justify it ... My life, where I was thrown around,

forever haunted by fear, can justify it. My painful death; my shattered bones; My blood spilt on the ground, wetting your heel ... Can justify all of it. What sort of society did you expect I'd call it? I scratched out a living for a mouthful of rice there, always stumbling, hounded by your bullying and threats.

I was tortured there ... I was raped there, brutally murdered ... You killed me. You tore from me the right to live ... What sort of society did you think I'd call it? What sort of society? [....]

I remember clearly how fear took hold of me when rough arms suddenly grabbed me from behind bound my eyes, tightly, then pushed me into a car, which sped off to who knows where ... There was no sound ... I don't know how far I was taken ... But I remember clearly that when the car stopped,

I was pushed out roughly I was dragged, carelessly ... I don't remember how far I was dragged along like that. I only remember how my body shook, in the grip of a terrible fear.

Then I heard a door being opened right in front of me. I don't know whether my head hit the wall or whether I was hit on the brow with a club I only know I fell headlong on the floor ... When I tried to move, feet in heavy boots quickly restrained me, standing on my shins, my belly, my chest, my arms ... I was abused with streams of filthy words

during every torture that followed. I don't know how many times my body was lifted up, then smashed down, hard. Lifted up again, then smashed down again ... Onto the floor ... Onto the corner of a table ... Onto a chair ... Until at last I was truly helpless ...

Such brutality knows no satisfaction ... I could no longer even move my fingertips when they began to wildly grope my whole body.

Marsinah is again choked up with emotion,

and stumbles over her words.

God! Stop this ... I cried to myself ... I fought to break free. I kept struggling ... I screamed with all my strength,

even though I knew my voice would not be heard. My voice fought against the gag stuffed in my mouth. My mouth and jaw felt torn. I kept struggling ... Struggling ... Until at last I'd used up everything ... My voice ... My energy ... Everything I let them devour me until they were sated. I let my bones be shattered. And ... And something, big, sharp, hard ... I can't even imagine what it was ... be thrust into me, breaking my pubic bone.

Marsinah throws herself down.

She moves, half crawling.

God, why? Why me? I really wanted to cry, but I couldn't. I was too broken to shed even one tear. Blood ... I saw blood everywhere. The blood was black and dirty ... Really dirty ... It covered my belly ... Covered my inner thighs. It was spattered on the floor,

all over the door, on the table legs ... Everywhere ... Those were the last moments I was able to feel something. Something too painful. Something so terrifying ... So brutal ... God, no-one deserves to suffer like that.

Marsinah was a 24-year old factory worker and labour activist. Her mutilated body was discovered in a forest on 8 May 1993. Her killers, widely thought to be soldiers, were never brought to justice. 'Marsinah accuses', translated by Robyn Fallick from Ratna Sarumpaet's 'Marsinah menggugat', may soon to be published by Aberrant Genotype Press, Canberra.

Inside Indonesia 55: Jul-Sep 1998

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Lontar Modern Indonesia



A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar

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