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ASEAN Literary Festival Director Responds to Protests

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Director of ASEAN Literary Festival (ALF) Okky Madasari had expected that the ALF 2016 would face rejections. “I, as the director of the event, am responsible for all contents and agenda in the third ALF,” she said at Jakarta Theatre Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) Cikini, Jakarta, Thursday, May 5, 2016.
The issues raised in the event have been deliberated comprehensively, according to Okky. The ALF 2016 theme ‘The Story of Now’ could help the public in understanding the relevance of literature in the current world setting.
“One of the most prominent issues today is freedom of expression. In Indonesia, we have 1965 issue, Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender [LGBT] issue and other issues that are not allowed to be discussed,” Okky said.
The theme has supposedly agitated a group of people to demand the cancellation of the ALF 2016, she said. Okky, however, admitted that she is adamant on continuing the event. “Tomorrow we have ‘Ingat 1965’ [Remember 1965] session, featuring youth who will visualize 1965 tragedy through a digital story. We will have discussions, monologues, even book launch.”
The performance of the 1965 issue is not being set up to provoke the public, Okky said. “We want to bring about the efforts to seek justice for victims, and we use literature as a power,” she said. “We don’t sing Partai Komunis Indonesia [Communist Party] songs or perform anything we have been accused of doing.”
On LGBT issue, Okky considers that every human beings have their own sexual orientation. “Our discussion is not inteded to encourage younger generations to support or promote LGBT, it’s a form of freedom of expression instead.”

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