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Jakarta Post

21 years on, hope dims for justice in Semanggi shootings

  • Ardila Syakriah
    Ardila Syakriah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, November 18, 2019   /  12:09 pm
The Jakarta Post Image
The parents of Benardus Realino Norma Irawan, who was shot dead in the Semanggi I tragedy, Maria Catarina Sumarsih (third left) and Arief Priyadi (second left), drop flowers in an event at the Atma Jaya Catholic University campus on Wednesday to mark the 21st anniversary of the shooting to death of 17 people in 1998.(JP/Seto Wardhana)

Working as a civil servant at the House of Representatives in the late 1990s, Maria Catarina Sumarsih had grown accustomed to the sounds of gunfire and tear gas shots from security personnel posted around her office in Central Jakarta. In 1998, the country saw massive protests staged by university students who were calling for Indonesia's longest-serving president, Soeharto, to step down, and after he did in September, for his cronies and the military to be purged from the government. On Nov. 13 that year, though, one particular gunshot turned Sumarsih's life upside down; the shot had hit her son's chest while he was reportedly about to tend to an injured student protester at his campus of Atma Jaya University, located near the Semanggi intersection in Central Jakarta. Sumarsih's son, Benardinus Realino Norma Irawan, or Wawan, then 20 years old, had been a me...