‘Prison and Paradise’: How terrorism affects children

Searching for clues: Police inspect one of the restaurants that suffered the worst impact of the 2002 Bali bombings in Kuta. JP
Searching for clues: Police inspect one of the restaurants that suffered the worst impact of the 2002 Bali bombings in Kuta. JP

Documentary filmmaker Daniel Rudi Haryanto cited verses of Koran sura Al-Ma’un: “Do you see one who denies the judgment to come?

“Then such is he who repulses the orphan with harshness, and does not encourage the feeding of the indigent. Woe to the worshippers who are neglectful in their prayers, those who want to be seen with worshipping men but refuse to supply their neighborly needs.”

The activist, who has studied Islam since his teenage years, was bewildered by the terrorist bombings in Indonesia.

“Islam says that we should not repulse the orphans, but the terrorists with their bombings are actually creating orphans,” he said.

His debut feature-length documentary, Prison and Paradise, tackles that particular problem. His
film, which will premiere at the 2010 Dubai Film Festival on Dec. 12, tells the story of the wives and the children of convicted terrorists and a victim of the first Bali bombing.

The 93-minute film, shortlisted for a documentary award at the festival, also shows the director’s 2003 interviews with executed Bali bombers Imam Samudra, Amrozi and Ali Gufron.

The 33-year-old, popularly called Rudi, said that he was overjoyed his film had been shortlisted, adding that he was proud to represent Indonesia on the international stage.

The documentary spans 7 years, starting with the interviews of the bombers at Nusakambangan prison.

In 2004, Rudi met with Noor Huda Ismail, a Jamaah Islamiyah analyst and an alumna of the Ngruki islamic boarding school where many of the terrorist convicts went.

Rudi then documented Huda’s encounters with Mubarok, his former roommate at Ngruki who
went on to join the radical movement. Rudi and Huda met with the family of imprisoned terrorist convicts Ali Imron and Mubarok and the family of bomb victim Imawan Sardjono in 2007. In 2010, he conducted more interviews with the families.

He said the documentary aimed to show the consequences of terrorism on the lives of children.

The sons of Imawan Sardjono, Alif and Aldi, were infants when their father died due to the bombing. “The children became fatherless due to the first Bali bombing that was carried out in the name of Islamic jihad. In fact the family of Haji Maksum [Imawan’s father in-law] and Aldi and Alif’s father were Islamic activists in Dalung Permai village in Denpasar. They worked together to establish a Koran school in their kampung,” Rudi said.

“The family became victims and suffered,” Rudi said. “The children had to grow up without a father.”

Meanwhile, the children of terrorist convicts also suffered from the acts of their fathers. In his documentary, Rudi followed the wives and children of terrorist convicts Mubarok and Ali Imron, documenting the families’ visits to Jakarta to meet the two men. The children of Mubarok and Ali Imron were the same age as Aldi and Alif.

“Ali Imron and Mubarok were sentenced to life in prison. Ali Imron and Mubarok’s children are now living under the stigma of terrorism, moving from one place to another,” he said.

The children think that their fathers were studying in Jakarta. “This is another problem. One day they will have to find out the truth and it will definitely affect their lives,” Rudi said. Even now, one of the children has asked whether her father is in prison and not in school, he said.

In the film, Rudi’s interview with Ali Imron, who was in charge of finding bomb-making materials, showed how the indoctrination of the radical movement has made Ali Imron neglect the care of his family’s well being.

“I didn’t look after my wife when she was pregnant,” says Ali Imron in one interview. “Both my children were born without me,” he said.

In another interview, Amrozy said that he simply asked God to mind his children.

Rudy said that he was eager to show his documentary film in Islamic boarding schools and cultural centers. “Our aim is to enable reconciliation,” he said.

Huda, whose foundation, the Institute of International Peace, funded the documentary, said there were still many Muslims who were in denial about the terrorist attacks, believing that groups outside of Indonesia did it.

“With this documentary, people have to admit that we have homegrown problems.”

Rudi said his next documentary would be on the lives of ex-combatants who have repented. Under a program with Prasasti Perdamaian, ex-combatants in Semarang are now running small food stalls
selling “torpedoes” — a dish made of goat’s penis.

“It’s very interesting,” Rudi said. “A food stall is a good place for reconciliation process because
here, their mind-set about society and jihad, which they see in a violent context, can be transformed,” he said.

“In a food stall, if they have customers that are Caucasian or Chinese, they still have to serve them.

This broadens their social interactions,” he said. “It’s a place where they learn to interact with society,” he said.

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Feature | Mon, November 29 2010

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