Anniversary of Marsinah’s Murder

“On behalf of the government, as the minister of manpower and transmigration, I want to apologize for what happened in the past, which had caused Marsinah to become a victim.” – Muhaimin Iskandar, Minister of Manpower and Transmigration

This year marked the 17th anniversary of the murder of Marsinah, a young female labor activist from East Java who was killed for her role in a workers’ strike at the PT Catur Surya Putra manufacturing plant.  State security officers are believed to have played a role in her rape, torture, and murder, but the crime remains unsolved.

Memorial Demonstration at Hotel Indonesia Roundabout (TEMPO/Subekti)

There were a number of demonstrations in remembrance of Marsinah, including a Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) demo at Marinsah’s grave in Kediri, East Java, a Front Oposisi Rakyat Indonesia (FORI) demo held in Makassar, South Sulewesi, and an Aliansi Buruh Indonesia demo held in Bandung, West Java, just to name a few.

Also, as quoted above, the Minister of Manpower and Transmigration apologized for “what happened in the past” and said he supports Marsinah receiving the status of “hero,” though it does not appear that he mentioned either the specific role the state may have played in her murder or why the case remains unsolved.

What all this means is difficult to say.  The anniversary has become an occasion for activists to raise the concerns of workers.  The fact that it comes only a week after May Day might lessen its impact, but that it is based on a contemporary event in Indonesia itself might make it more important.

It has also become an occasion to raise issues specific to female workers.  A spokesperson from FORI suggested that May 8th become National Women’s Labor Day and Komnas Perempuan (The National Commission on Violence Against Women) used the anniversary to issue a statement, which The Jakarta Post describes below:

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) said in a statement to mark the day that some basic rights specific to female laborers were often overlooked.

Reproductive rights, including maternity leave, are seldom guaranteed and female workers are often considered single even if they are married and are the family’s sole breadwinner, making them unqualified for social and health security services for their families, according to the commission.

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