Women: a Negotiating Room to Reconcile Memory in Conflict Poso

 Oleh : Lian Gogali

Violent conflict has weakened the structure of social life built for years in the community. The consignment of thousands of troops by TNI/Polri to restore security, meetings in the community level, meetings among the local leaders, and a number of judicial trials to death sentences have been obviously conducted by the government with strong assumption that peace can be reached.In fact, reconciliation is still not attained. I strongly assume and verify some facts that reconciliation in Poso disregards the feeling of loss, bitterness, regret, memory, revenge as well as trauma in conformity with the feeling of distrust and suspicion infiltrating into the memory and shaping attitude and image of someone. In bigger scale, they have constructed identity of a community in the post of conflict. This construction becomes such a trigger producing larger conflict and or continuing in the post of open conflict. It is actually a key point to be considered in reconciliation.This research-based writing is to highlight how memory and narratives of the victims particularly women, on the Poso conflict generate an alternative way to articulate the conflict itself and function as “a negotiating room” for peace principally deconstructing the memory of the conflict so that peace building among or in the community in the post of conflict can be reached. Speaking about reconciliation from the narratives of women enables the community to share their hatred and distrust feeling binding up with the initiative to live together in bitter regret.Why women? The research I conduct shows that they are different from men who tend to focus on the numbers of the victims. Women’s narratives are the articulation of living victimization describing dominant discourses on conflict between religion groups. They are also the ones who initially create a peace process rooting from the living importance. This alternative reconciliation emphasizes that speaking about reconciliation without providing a room of justice basing on the narratives of the victims is nothing. In other words, reconciliation without the victimization narratives is political attempt to disregard the memory of the victims, to hide it just as dust under the carpet.

Women: “Negotiating Rooms” for the Reconciliation of Memory

Reconciliation often become the keyword in the conflict resolution among the conflicted parties. This word assumes the parties involved in the conflicts have agreed on the peace-making effort and therefore can live together (Hayner, 2001). However, seeing the complexities of suffering and the memory of women and reconciliation can be reached only when the layers of memory are put away no matter hard it is. Yet, talking about reconciliation, there is a hope to grow while re-examining the memory of the women. The memory of women imagine something possible in the reconciliation that is the reconciliation of memory.

By assuming that the discussions on conflicts are in the connecting cycle of the moments in the past, arranging life in the present and peaceful hope in the future so in the subject of reconciliation, memory cannot be abondoned. The way women tell their narratives show the rooms of negotiation for the reconciliation of memory by stressing on the victimization. The reconciliation of memory gives meaning on the peace rooting from the memory of losing life causing borderless victimization. It is the memory of borderless victimization in life causing people in the society to make peace with themselves, communities, or with others. So, there is no “them” and “us” but we are the victims.

So far, the memory on conflicts is about “them” and “us” so that they are trapped in the claim as victims. The fight on the claim as victims has caused the society in the post conflict arrange their lives separated from other communities or different “them” so that it keeps the hate, bitter vengeance emerging anytime although it is not always hidden in the surface. Building reconciliation and assuming the society arranging life in the post conflict with the awareness on the victimization and that it will continue until the next generation in different ways. This awareness will stimulate the society to discuss on the peace life together throught the communal practices divulging prejudice bit by bit toward other communities. The reconciliation of memory at first takes individuals to re-examine the past in the frame of victimhood. Everyone is asked to give a room for oneself to be honest and open, questioning whether it is true that the one sacrifices is only the Christian or Muslim group. Will life be better if bitterness is kept to be a block of vengeance? Isn’t it not only “kitorang[1]” but also “dorang[2]” or it is us who become the victims in Poso conflict, no claims since sacrifice is not seen from the statistical numbers that they lose their lives

The reconciliation of memory is not simply based on the sacrifice in life but rooting from the society and therefore becomes the property of the society, in public spaces, whenever, whereever in the society in various activities. It is not a popular discourse (may be it is weird to hear). In this case, talking about the reconciliation of memory also considers one of the biggest challenges that is divulging the dominant discourses ignoring the sacrifice by opening rooms for the silent voices. The involvement of mass media in the publication, the analysis on Poso conflicts, the policy in managing conflict are other discussion rooms transforming the process of the reconciliation of memory happened in the society. In its turn, it assumes the society in the post conflict which is aware on the sacrifice to determine on their own the tapestry in the future together without being in political game or certain group since they have their own lives.

The memory of women and they way they remember bring into a finding that there is an appalling and striking difference between the narratives of women and men. The women remember in details until the small parts of an incident happened on them or in their surrounding and give meaning completely in their comprehension arrangement of their lives in the post conflict. Most of the men tell Poso conflicts in big narratives around the things they consider as the root of conflicts, the relation among communities, and the political reality following the conflicts and the causes. For women, the impact of the conflicts closely related to life-cycle. The narratives of losing, killed or missing children, torture, the times of pengungsian are the unforgettable things in the lives of women. They learn and remember in deeper ways than men. The narratives of women are on the losing of a life not simply the conflicts themselves.

Looking back the stories of women described that conflict not only about chronology, list of detriment and financial lost but more than that about life-cycle with victimhood. They stories become hazy or blurr dominant discourse of conflict Poso, break through discipline of history or based on conflict. The stories of women to give forth different way to look, watched and to understanding Poso conflict. The stories will enrichment perspective of poso conflict with seeing how women understanding all their memories. This memories about victimhood will curve the reality of the conflict it self. In other words, reality as a discourse effect.

Narrative from the memories of women are step beginning to efforts memory deconstruction about POso conflict. That is cause women talk about conflict in life-cycle, and life-cycle is human being. How come?


(for a better explaination, please read my new Book: Poso Conflict; Voices of Women and Children to Reconcile Memory (in Indonesia), Galang Press, 2009. You can find it in book store in java.i am waiting for your respond, critic, and argument...)

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