On Saturday, police officers and members of ‘Islamic’ hardliner groups reportedly forced the closure of Lady Fast 2016, a festival of music, art and discussions for women that was being held at Survive Garage in Bantul, Yogyakarta.
The official word from the local police is that the event’s organizers did not acquire a proper permit to stage the event, which they say disturbed locals because they were playing music late into the evening.
“There was no permit, they were playing music and expressing their art but never filed for a permit,” said local police chief Commissioner Suwandi, as quoted by BBC Indonesia.
However the police admitted that they were assisted by members of two local ‘Islamic’ hardliner groups, the Islamic People Forum (FUI) and Islamic Jihad Front (FJI), in forcing the closure of the event – meaning there was probably more to it than just an ordinary noise complaint.
Kolektif Betina (Female Collective), the group that organized Lady Fast, detailed the forced closure on their Facebook page, saying that the FUI and FJI members (referred to as “Unidentified Group” in the post) used horrific intimidation tactics against people attending the event.
The details are plenty and long, but here are some of the most horrific incidents that Kolektif Betina claim happened that night:
6. Police were already on location at that point. When the argument broke between Lady Fast organizers and the unidentified group, a warning shot into the air was shot by a police officer in civilian clothing.
7. A representative from lady fast and venue owners continue to try engaging in a dialogue with the unidentified group. They, again, responded with escalating verbal harassment. Accusing us of corrupting morals, dressing inappropriately, accusing us of being communists. Threatening us that 500 more men are on their way to attack us. Their gestures were violent.
9.One of our female friends who tried to get out of the crowd was assaulted physically by members of the unidentified group. She was grabbed and yelled at “Are you drunk? You drunk?” Our other female friends were also verbally assaulted with insults such as “Dirty!” “Damaged women!” “You are morally corrupt!” One of our friends who wore hijab was yelled at “Repent! Repent! Why do you hangout with these people!?”
12. There were 10 people locked inside the house. 3 men, 5 women, and 2 children. The key was in the possession of the house owner, who weren’t there. He was out to get help.
15. Our friends inside the house asked the police for warrants. The police told them that if they did not open the door from inside, the unidentified group will break it down from outside. It is safer if they just opened the door from inside, forcefully because nobody had the keys. Meanwhile the unidentified group kept yelling “Burn! Burn!”
16. After opening the door from inside, police and around 15-20 members of the unidentified group swarmed into the house, took videos and photos of our friends faces. One female friend of ours asked them to stop what they were doing as they were scaring the children. Members of the unidentified group told her “You want to argue or what? You are a woman, I can easily hit you!” His fist was right in front of her face.
17. Our friend, and 3 others, were taken to Polsek Kasihan – Bantul to be questioned. Police asked about a zine with LGBT logo in it, That zine was private property of one of our event guest. It is not part of the zine distributed by the event.
That is the reason we use apostrophes when describing FUI and FJI as ‘Islamic’ – if any of this is true, these people’s actions are clearly un-Islamic.
Luckily, those who were detained by the police were reportedly released. Meanwhile, none from the FUI or FJI members were arrested for terrorizing the event attendants (including children) – which is unsurprising, given that they aided the police in forcefully closing the event (or it could have been the other way around, who knows?).
However, in light of the incident, in what is yet another unfortunate case of violent conservatism winning out over freedom of speech, Kolektif Betina cancelled the second day of Lady Fast, which was planned for Sunday.
Other than a small element of LGBT controversy (see point 17 in Kolektif Betina’s Facebook post), why would Indonesian hardline groups in Indonesia be attacking feminist movements now? Here is an interesting analysis from The National Commission on Violence against Women’s Catherine Emily (courtesy of journalist Yenni Kwok) which shows how New Order propaganda linked feminism to communism, the most politically taboo ideology in Indonesia.