Monday, January 28, 2013

Kulon Progo Farm or Die: Interview with Suratinem

Tukijo's wife (Suratinem) has now been working their land on her own for over a year while her husband sits in prison as unjust punishment for speaking out against corporate greed and corruption. At the time of this interview, Tukijo remains unfairly imprisoned. His wife is without the daily company, presence, help and support of her husband.

 1. When you first realized Tukijo was missing, what did you think could have happened to him?
 At the time Tukijo asked me to water the plants (on our farm). So i watered them. Then I asked him if he could finish the watering because my hands hurt and he said yes. When I was almost finished I began to wonder why he had not shown up yet. I began looking around for him, and he wasn't anywhere he usually would be. Then I asked Kinteng's wife (Dwi) if she had seen him, she said he might be at the pool. And then Dwi called Mr.Cokro who was at the pool, but he replied that Tukijo wasn't there. Then Dwi called Tukijo directly, asking; “Where have you been? Your wife is looking for you” And he said "the police took me away and are bringing me to the Yogyakarta Police Headquarters." Hearing the news I panicked. Dwi and I asked Tukijo, "Why are the police taking you to Police Headquarters? What's the problem?" But my husband answered that he didn't know, at first he was just asked to enter the car to chat, but apparently got abducted by the police. At the time I had all sorts of thoughts, at the moment my family had so many debts. I keep thinking, if my husband is imprisoned, can I still continue paying those debts? My mind just got mixed up, confused. Think about what it would be like if your family suddenly disappeared, being left with pile of debts, and all of a sudden having to survive alone. And I have no other job. I only earn my living from our farm. This became an immediate burden in my life. Thinking that I'm alone, with no one to help. Usually my husband is always there. But yeah, hopefully I can pay my debt, because the debt is correlated to the government. If I cannot pay it, then I would be subject to sanctions.

2.When you finally received word that the police had kidnapped him, what was your reaction?
At the moment I thought about the possibility of my husband's being imprisoned. I thought so. So it means I have to work everything by myself, think by myself, without him, no one to help anymore. My son has newly married. It means my child is also unable to help, because he has this new responsibility to take care of his own family.

3.How do you feel now, one year later without Tukijo being at home? And how about those works in the field?
 Ya, I'm just working and managing it all by myself. I do the plant spraying on my own, but I have to pay other workers to help me preparing the soil before planting anything. Other tasks in the field that I can do alone I do. I have to be able to do it. This is just because the condition is forcing me to.

 4. The condition seems hard for you and your family. How is your mental condition? 
However hard this condition is, God willing I can handle it. Because family and all is debt is also part of my responsibilities. So, even when my husband is unable to help, I should still do it.

 5.How do you feel about the corporate iron ore mining? Have your feelings change since Tukijo has been in prison?
 I still refuse it! They shouldn't mine. They still shouldn't. Since the beginning I have felt this way. Because it's our only way to make a living, feed ourselves; for my family and for all the farmers on those coastal beaches.

6. Have the local farmers supported and helped you and your family since your family's struggle began? Is there still many farmers that support you and give you spirit? 
Until now, ya there is still many other farmers who support us, many try to push me to be able to get through this. Whether helping with thinking, time, money, manpower... They still do, until now.

 7.After Tukijo was sentenced as guilty by Wates State Court, Kulon Progo residents were trying to prove that Tukijo is innocent and went to the 1st court of appeals but the attempt has failed. The higher court still decided that Tukijo is guilty. What is your point of view about the law? 
Ya I felt very hurt, because my husband has been sentenced for a very long time. While the corrupt government's officials only got a few months. My husband is a common farmer, why should he be sentenced for so long? If he's guilty, he's guilty for what? His intention was only helping a passerby (JMI's pilot project workers), so that those people could be saved from getting beaten up by masses (because there's a no trespassing agreement between the mining company's people and the farmers). But afterwards, my husband is the one who was victimized, his family also. If he got imprisoned because he was stealing or beating up people, I would understand, but in this case he was innocent, he was defending a trespasser. But I think he got imprisoned not because of what courts said, he got imprisoned because there's so many people from the mining company that hate him for being outspoken, they don't like what he is struggling for. They don't like that he is actively resisting the iron ore mining.

8.How long has Tukijo been imprisoned? 
More than one year. In May(2012), it was exactly one year... now its been one year and two months.

9.To your knowledge, what is Tukijo feeling and point of view now while he is in prison? 
Does he still have the same spirit? What I know, he still has spirit, he still resists the iron ore mining. He's like that, even now when he is imprisoned, he's still thinking about our people who are struggling against the mining. How are their spirit, how is the support for them, and he is hoping that the seashore farmers will continue to resist the oppression and always defend their land.

 10.What are your expectations in the future?
I hope, and pray that my husband's problem can be over soon. And that he can get released from the prison. And everything can get back to normal, working like before. I hope the mining company leaves, and the people can feel at peace on their land again.

***Interviewer's note*** we cut short the interview with Ibu Suratinem because after a few minutes she became very emotional. This has been a travesty for her family and we hope, as all the members of PPLP and the people of Kulon Progo that Tukijo can return to his family as soon as possible.
Next: SG and PAG

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