A picture of Marsinah Marsinah (b. Nglundo, East Java, April 10th, 1969 – d. approx. May 8th, 1993) was a worker activist at an Indonesian company, PT Catur Putra Surya in Porong, East Java, whose rape and murder drew international attention to the practices of the Suharto dictatorship and the suppression of workers. Marsinah was serving as a negotiator for 500 workers striking over supplemental payments for food and transportation. On May 4th, she was kidnapped following a demonstration, her body found four days later. Those responsible have never been brought to justice, but it is widely believed that the military had a hand in her disappearance and subsequent death.
The second child of Sumini and Mastin, Marsinah grew up under the care of her grandmother, Puirah, and her aunt Sini, in Nglundo, East Java. She went to school at Karangasem Public School 189, subsequently Nganjuk No.5 Middle School. Her girlhood years were marked with commerce, selling snacks in order to augment her grandmother and aunt's incomes. Marsinah's final school years were spent at the Muhammadiyah Boarding School, her educational advancement being denied due to lack of money.
Unable to find employment in Nglundo, Marsinah turned her attention to the big cities, sending in job applications to Surabaya, Mojokerto and Gresik. Hired by Bata Shoes to work at their Surabaya factory in 1989, she moved a year later to the Catur Putra Surya (formerly Empat Putra Surya) watch factory in Sidoarjo. Making a lateral transfer to their Porong factory after its opening, Marsinah eventually found herself serving as spokesperson for her fellow workers.
When, in 1993, the Governor of East Java announced a raise in the provincial minimum wage, Catur Putra Surya (a company with ties to the Indonesian military-industrial complex) refused to comply due to the perceived potential financial losses it would cost the company. On May 3rd of that year, CPS workers went on strike while Marsinah went to the Indonesian Ministry of Labor to retrieve a copy of the gubernatorial directive to deliver to the CPS management.
On May 5th, the Sidoarjo District Military Command summoned 13 workers to its headquarters and forced them to sign letters of resignation, with 8 more to follow in the next couple of days. Outraged by this turn of events, Marsinah decided to go there herself and demand an explanation that very same day. She was never seen alive again.
- Hellwig and Tagliacozzo (2009). The Indonesia Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Duke University Press. Durham and London. p 393
- Khoir, Fatkhul. "Marsinah: An Inspiration For the Working Class Struggle". www.marxist.com. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
- "FOA case text". www.ilo.org. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
- Megawati Reopens Marsinah Case Workers Online, 19 April 2002, Accessed 13 May 2009.
- The Limits of Openness: Human Rights in Indonesia and East Timor Human Rights Watch, September 1994.
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