There is something to be said about civil unrest and corruption. There are also many things one should never say. For example, if the police are at war with the army in your town it is probably best not to scrutinize it on a public blog that is widely read in the small town experiencing said unrest. Some might see that as “fuel to the fire”. Especially best not to write a post about it if one is A) barely proficient in the town’s language so therefore hardly understands all the details of said unrest and B) one of three Bule (white people) who lives in the town and already suffers from the ailing disease of sticking-out-like-a-sore-thumb. Going against my own advice I feel it is necessary to send a short update about living through and experiencing the corruption in Indonesia and the current unrest.
I heard news of the Police vs. Army violence last night after a long day of teaching. Because I was tired, apathetic and literally the LAST person to find out about the local war it did not really change my mood or affect my posture; it had already filtered through so many people to get to me that it seemed diminished and sprinkled with a “don’t worry” postscript.
This morning my alarm was my teacher friend calling to tell me I needed to meet with some immigration officers in 5 minutes. Of course it took me more than 5 minutes (more like 20) and so by the time I was available the immigration officers impatiently left campus where they had come just to see me. They informed my teacher friends that I now must come to the immigration office because I made them wait too long.
Just so you know…I have already experienced a bit of this when a team of police officers came to my school last week. They pulled me out of class and insisted I go to the police station to explain why I had not checked in with them yet. You see, whenever one goes to a new location in Indonesia one MUST inform the police…1938 Germany, I know. I had lived here for 2 months and forgot to check in. Oops! During my stay at the disgustingly terrifying jail in the jungle of Gorontalo the police officers did not even look at my documents! Did they even ask for the paperwork that explains my association to the US Department of State? Not at all. Truth be told? The police officers heard some white girl was jogging through the village every day at dusk and decided to haul her into the station to take copious photos of her to display as their computer’s desktop. Ugh! So now what? I have checked in with the local police, sat for far too long in a small unventilated room of cigarette smoke, and smiled in 50+ photos surrounded by sweaty men like a freakin’ champ! Why are more officers stopping by? Let’s just be honest here. MOST police in Indonesia are corrupt. People have been warning me from the beginning. It is really not too different from Mexico. They bribe you, black mail you, lie and apparently get drunk and start wars with military.
My fellow teachers told me the immigration officers think I am a spy. They wish to interrogate me so to determine I am not. I immediately responded, “How will they determine that I am not a spy? I could definitely be a spy! Everything about me says “spy”!”…not to mention once accused of being a spy one loses their international rights. I freaked out a bit after that. Called my people at AMINEF and made sure that before I was interrogated someone knew where I was. Turns out he was “joking”. I still have no idea what is going on. They decided to send someone to represent me instead of actually sending me on Monday.
About the war…A few nights ago a police officer got drunk and killed a soldier. Some solider retaliated. Now every pig wants to kill a jar head and every jar head wants to kill a pig. It reminds me of some old school East LA gang violence. However, in this situation the people fighting are not high school drop-outs or products of serious brainwashing. They are the bodies of government meant to protect the people. The bodies PAID for by the beautiful and sincere citizens of Gorontalo.
What does this mean to me? Besides the fact that it is unsafe to leave my campus and I have a four-day weekend? It means there is a serious social problem that needs to change and the town should be in dismay. Yet are they? Everyone I ask says the same thing, it’s like clock work, “Why, do you ask about that Jolie? It is between them, not us.” When the people who are meant to protect and serve are killing each other the whole system becomes inefficient at best and obsolete at worst. I feel horrible that there is a body of governance that is blatantly harming society and no one is doing anything about it. Every police officer should know that their boss is the citizen. Yet, these police are middle schoolers, acting out of stinky jackassery. I have heard endless stories about police officers stealing from the people whom delegate their existential purpose, the tax payers. My friend was fined thousands of dollars for getting in a car accident, while drug lords get off after murdering and stealing because they have the money to. I can only hope the army rises above the mess of this municipal system and ends the war non-violently. Maybe it would do us all a service if they cleansed the force and purged it of all bad seeds (by bringing them to court not murdering them).
More practically, maybe this dispute could end by this afternoon so I can get me some groceries without worrying about being in the middle of a shoot off or by tonight so I can hit up my favorite snorkeling spot on the sabbath. That would be great! As for my local reputation as a spy, still no news. I will keep you posted ;-).