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Survivors of the Solo Riot and their Expressions of Forgiveness: A Critical Discourse Analysis


I make research about forgiveness of the survivors of Solo riot in May 1998 (hereafter Solo Riot). I seek to know the expressions of forgiveness of the survivors, after thirteen years the incident passed. I consider the research is significant, since I convince that forgiveness is the important path to peace and reconciliation. My research questions are “How do survivors forgive those involved as actors in the Solo riot? What factors encourage survivors to prefer forgiveness rather than resentment? How do religious teachings and cultural values influence them in coping with their violent past? On the other hand, for survivors who fail to attain the spirit of forgiveness, what factors block them? Some other questions are: do survivors want to disclose the truth regarding the riot? How are their opinions about the possibility to build harmony? What strategy they do for coping the violent situation?” The data in my research is the discourse about forgiveness from survivors of the Solo riot. In regards to the sampling of survivors to be interviewed, I did not select against certain criteria; I simply included the CI who were the survivors of the Solo riot, whom I met through my informants or incidentally. For this research, I interviewed 29 survivors, and made a focus group discussion with seven survivors who are students. For supplementary data, I also interviewed three pribumi who were the survivors of the Solo riot, and one CI who experienced a similar riot in Kebumen. Then, I analyse the data using Critical Discourse Analysis of Norman Fairclough approach. With the analysis in the description stage, I identify four responses of the survivors regarding forgiving those involved in the riots: no need forgiving, forgiving, unwilling to forgive but remembering, forgetting. I find as well that the only strategy to survive from the violent experience is surrendering to God. Regarding the need to disclose the truth: the youth strongly urged the government to disclose the truth regarding Solo riot, whereas the eldest said:”It is useless.” The youth are also pessimistic regarding harmonious relationship between the CI and the pribumi in the future, but the eldest are optimistic. In the interpretation stage, socio-political and religious discourses are the dominant references beside market, commerce, and education discourses. In the explanation stage, there is clarification about the situational, institutional, and societal levels. In the situational level, the individuals‟ social background of the survivors determine the discourses they raised and referred to. In the institutional level, religious, education, law and political institutions are determinants of the discourses discussed in the research. In the societal level, socio-historical background of Chinese problem in Indonesia, and Solo in special, determine the discourses which become the objects of the research. On other way, the discourses also bring effects for the social pratices of Solo society. Based on the analysis, I find that cultural strategy suggested by the old survivors is effective for building peace. The old survivors mentioned that disclosing the truth regarding Solo riot is useless, but doing social works, such as Solo Bersama Selamanya („Solo Together Forever‟, SBS), for the betterment of Solo society is more meaningful. In line to this idea, I propose a project to write new history of Solo which tells Solo Riot in the new light. In this new history, there will be the stories of the survivors‟ suffering and the recognition of the rioters regarding what they have done during Solo riot. With the spirit of Solo Bersama Selamanya, which encourages all Solo people to take part and leaving behind political and religious sentiments, I consider the project can be realized. With the recognition from the both sides of the survivors and the perpetrators, reconciliation processes will run. I propose as well that the young survivors are encouraged more to involve in the social activities. With the involvement in social activities, the youth cultivate their senses of belonging of Solo. Hopefully, it will reduce the feeling of discriminated and mocked as Chinese descents. Moreover, it is important to build monuments which remind the whole Solo society that Solo riot should not occur anymore.

Key Words: Forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, revenge, suffering, survivor, Solo, riots, cultural strategy, new history.