On Saturday April 2nd in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, a feminist art and music event called Lady Fast was attacked by hardline fundamentalists and city police. The event was being hosted by SURVIVE! Garage, an independent arts and culture space in the Bantul area of Yogyakarta, and where several Justseeds artists and colleagues have presented work and collaborated with Indonesian artists. Lady Fast was organized by Kolektif Bettina, a collective of women artists and activists, and featured workshops, art shows, music and crafts by a diverse group of women and allies form across the Archipelago. The event was disrupted on its opening night by a large mob of hardline fundamentalist Islamists from several different organizations, with the collusion of local police. Police fired several shots into the air in an attempt to get the crowd, which included numerous small children in the company of their parents, to disperse. Members of the religious mobs attacked and beat attendees, harassed and abused women, and the police took numerous artists and attendees for questioning. The mob threatened to burn down the venue, citing the presence of tracts in support of LGBT issues as evidence of moral corruption. In a chilling addition, the attackers were also heard accusing attendees of being “Communists”, which, in a country with such an intense history of massacring people accused of leftist agitation, is particularly terrifying. While the reach of fundamentalism within Indonesian society has expanded dramatically in the last decade, this marks a new direction- associating feminism with communism to further the enforcement of a rigidly conservative social order.
SURVIVE! remains closed as of this writing, sealed by authorities. Our solidarity goes out to our friends in Yogya and to everyone across Indonesia struggling for a more inclusive and liberated society in the face of ongoing violence and repression of this sort. When the religious thugs and the police start showing up together, there can be nothing good in store for those who want to challenge the status quo.
Here’s the SURVIVE! statement on the situation:
Friends & Colleagues,
We would like to thank you for your care and solidarity. We apologize that we have not been able to respond to each message received, but believe us in saying that every message that asked about how we were doing or shared support, showed us that we were not alone.
In relation to what occurred at the Lady Fast event on Saturday night, 2nd April 2016, we as managers of SURVIVE!Garage have given a statement and outlined the chronology of what happened during a press conference together with organizations and communities from Forum Solidaritas Yogya Damai (the Peaceful Yogyakarta Solidarity Forum) and event organisers Kolektif Betina (the Betina Collective). Friends can access information on these through a number of media sources listed below.
We would like to share that at this time we are all ok. Nevertheless, SURVIVE!Garage is not able to open in the short term. At present our door is still locked by neighbourhood leaders and we are currently in the process of working out how we can return to the house, as the use of the keys to the house must be negotiated with a number of community leaders within the neighbourhood that we live. As part of this negotiation process, to obtain items that belong to us and to friends from Kolektif Betina we have had to be escorted by representatives of the local community to enter the house.
We have learnt a lot from what has happened and we sincerely hope that it will not happen to anybody else in the futuristik. An important thing we have learnt from this is that we will be stronger if we support each other in solidarity.
At this present time the SURVIVE!Garage space is closed, however we still exist and will continue to work, as SURVIVE! will always Survive.