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Jakarta Post

1965 survivors choir 'Dialita' awarded Gwangju human rights award

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung   /   Sun, May 19, 2019   /   08:04 pm
1965 survivors choir 'Dialita' awarded Gwangju human rights award The Dialita Choir was established in 2011 and its members comprise former political prisoners arrested following the attempted 1965 coup d’etat. JP/Rosa Panggabean (JP/Rosa Panggabean)

The Dialita Choir, a group of survivors of the 1965 tragedy in Indonesia, has been honored with the 2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights for "showing the path to reconciliation and healing through music".

The prize was awarded by the May 18 Memorial Foundation on Saturday in Gwangju, South Korea.

"The award is an acknowledgement of the fight for human rights through music and culture. The recognition has motivated us to continue our fight through arts," Dialita Choir head Uchikowati Fauzia said in her speech during the awarding ceremony.

Uchikowati recalled in her speech the turns of events involving the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) 53 years ago, which have turned women and children into victims of the tragedy as their families were prosecuted and killed.

"Many people lost their civil rights. They were fired from their work, dismissed from their schools and robbed of their properties. We were only children back then. We grew up in fear and pressure. Some of our parents were jailed while some others went missing and were never found again," she added.

She said the stigma attached to the PKI had ripped away the social, political and cultural rights of the victims of the 1965 tragedy.

"Through singing, children of the 1965 victims can feel peace and strength to achieve their dreams, because the future is owned by everyone, including the 1965 victims," Uchikowati said.

She also expressed hope that Indonesia could hear their voices and acknowledge the 1965 human rights violations.

National Association of Families of the Disappeared (IKOHI) secretary-general Zaenal Muttaqien said the May 18 Memorial Foundation had asked his organization to recommend groups or figures deserving of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

"In the past three years, Dialita has actively performed, arranged songs, created albums and received a warm welcome from the public. The group has helped erode the stigma against the 1965 victims. A documentary on them also received the Piala Citra award," Zaenal explained the reasons behind Dialita's nomination.

He added that by taking a cultural approach, Dialita has received relatively no repudiation from the public compared to other activities related to the 1965 tragedy.