Nov 14, 2018 Last Updated 6:23 AM, Nov 5, 2018

In the tiger's den

Published: Sep 22, 2007

Marwan Yatim

I was a political prisoner sentenced to six years gaol in the Free Aceh case. Indonesian soldiers arrested me roughly at my office on 3 October 1990. At the Lampineung intelligence headquarters my entire body was beaten with fists, kicks, sticks and whips while they cursed me. They then stripped me to my underpants and put me in a 1x2m cell. Inside were two other prisoners. Their faces were full of puss, and their shoulders and legs full of wounds. We slept directly on the concrete, always fearing more torture while hearing other humans scream in pain.

Under an oppressive sun another man and I were joined at the shoulders and told to carry a large rock, already hot from the sun, for two hours. Every time the rock fell we were beaten.

From the tigers den of Lampineung we were moved to the Lhok Nga gaol not far away. But soldiers from Company B would come especially to torture us, without asking any questions. During the first week it happened every evening. My nose was broken by a soldier named Zulkarnein. In the morning Company B commander Joko Warsito, in front of his men, arrogantly stomped on my chest and face with his boots. In the evening his subordinate Syukri tortured me for three hours in a bath full of water.

About 300 people were arrested for Free Aceh in Banda Aceh. All were tortured. Even the courtroom was taken over by the military. All the proceedings were dictated by the military command, Korem 012/TU. No denial was accepted. Justice never came into it.

Even after we were handed over to civilian warders, nothing could be done without the recommendation of Korem 012/TU. There was no medicine for the sick. Several of my friends died in gaol.

Marwan Yatim now lives in Sydney, Australia.


Inside Indonesia 57: Jan-Mar 1999


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