Indonesia: Palang Hitam (Anarchist Black Cross Indonesia), M1, Life on the Run and a Tale of Treachery By A Comrade
A STATEMENT FROM PALANG HITAM CONCERNING TOBI’S MISUSE OF FUNDRAISING:
It recently came to our attention that Tobi has been misappropriating funds from our organisation. We tweeted about it a few days ago (and have had private communications with some contributors) but in light of the severity of the situation, how much money he fundraised without our knowledge and spent on «living expenses and motorbike rentals» (his words), we’ve felt the need to make a more comprehensive statement outlining the sequence of events in the interests of full transparency. We are deeply disappointed and angry of this shameful betrayal of not only us but all the comrades who sent money to Palang Hitam in good faith from abroad.
ABC-Indonesia was initiated to help our comrades, especially Ucil who was not a student and was being denied legal aid, after the riot on May Day 2018 in Yogyakarta (M1). Or what was called as “March Against Feudalism”. Palang Hitam was initiated by those – including myself -that are being hunted or are on the list of wanted persons. We have been and still are on the run from several pig units including the terrorist unit, local police, and the sultan paramilitary who was looking for us for days after the action. I personally have had previous experience with this, having been in this situation before and I know very well that they will wait until we think it is safe, hence our decision to remain underground up until this time.
Interrogation records that were checked confirmed our suspicions that some arrested leftists had given our names to investigators (as well as the addresses of some of our safe houses) and claimed that we were the ones who organized the march and incited revolt. The reason our names were given as the instigators is political differences. Many leftists in Yogyarkarta use state buildings to gather in, these are owned by the Sultan of Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta being a feudal Sultanate. I had made my opinion known to others, that we should use our own spaces while they believe it is good to fight against the companies but not the Sultan. They accused our strategy as not popular or being populist enough. On the contrary we are against their populism and their fetishization of the masses. Since no one claimed responsibility of their own deeds and choices, then yes, we are the agent provocateurs aiming in not just interrupting the reproduction of capital but also to fight the modern feudalistic relationship in Yogyakarta that was supported by NGO, social activists, and artists. They considered the Sultan as a lesser evil democratic figure. Horse shit.
After M1 the usual climate of paranoia started to spread, we lost contact with some networks and comrades and some of us went to nearest city to regroup and empower each other in the face of state repression. After that, with very loose coordination and no formal structure we established Palang Hitam as an effort to help our comrade Ucil. We delegated the role of Palang Hitam administration to Tobi as he was not on the arrest list and thus able to continue his life above ground. Tobi was still living his normal life as a student from West Borneo in Yogyakarta. It was when Tobi’s partner visited Ucil for the first time, Ucil send a message through her that we should leave the island of Java asap.
Although separated by seas or cities we insisted on maintaining communication. Tobi’s partner were very fast in responding to questions and several times they asked us about what kind of tasks we wanted done. It is simple, we told them to let Ucil know that he was not alone and we will use all of our effort to find him a legal aid. Just that.. And when Ucil finally got a legal aid, we told them to cross-check every interrogation record, including the other defendants, anarchists or not. But not all of their lawyers agreed. Months passed and we’d been organizing funding – within Indonesia – in order for Ucil’s parents to visit him from Manado, North Sulawesi. We, meaning two of us who had together fled to another island in search of a place to seek refuge. Our safe space.
After this we didn’t really have any suspicion whatsoever concerning Tobi, we shared our networks for Palang Hitam (to assist Ucil) however I mostly didn’t bother to think about ‘funding’ or ‘donations’for those of us on the run, as we were doing it ourselves, surviving in a new place by our own wits, there was an exception to this initially when we first reached the island we fled to. We’d just arrived and were broke, without support and unsure what to do we reached out to a handful of overseas contacts by email who sent us some money, all up we received almost $200. Our communication with Tobi was always concerning Ucil and whether there was still money for him. We promoted to our friends the Palang Hitam t-shirts so that Tobi could use it to support Ucil. Most of the time any discussion of money was only regarding Ucil, I sometimes asked him for money, for food and for shelter, like 9 dollars or 4 dollars, it was not a routine such as once a week, it was once some months and some months not at all. Having zero knowledge of the status of PH’s funds, we felt indebted to Tobi and his partner, how generous they were, and we continued surviving doing any jobs that we could or just being tramps, moving from place to place. Several times when we asked for a little bit of money he said that he didn’t have money at all. And then we found out about the online Aftonomi fundraiser by accident, the bad English and the description in the proposal was outrageous. In the past we had told him to not use our previous Cafe as it would put him at risk. He claimed in the proposal about doing the M1 arson and the most stupidest thing was that he wrote in the proposal about Palang Hitam. This was a serious security concern. Risky and so unnecessary, and the fact that we would never set foot on that place, because the proposal was made so public, open to the pigs who did the lists.There is no such thing as being ‘too careful’ concerning our situation and told him that what he wrote could be dangerous to his fellow comrades. He usually never replied by now but in this instance he just said yes but never edited the proposal. So with the communication difficulties made worse by geographical distance we just left him and insisted on him just focusing on Ucil. At one time his partner asked us to do the design for the Aftonomi logo, we did it and they were happy with the result. My other friend was given money by Tobi’s partner to go back to her family for a week, a one way ticket. Tobi’s partner confessed to us that Tobi’s dad give him 30 million rupiah to start his own cafe, Aftonomi (later we found out it was 60 million rupiah/ 5 thousand USA dollars more or less).
We were shocked when we again saw the online fundraisiing for Aftonomi, the amount and scale of it and yes he was still citing Palang Hitam in the description. We thought, it just too much. We criticized him again to not depend on funding, in some special cases, yes of course. But we thought he already had gotten a huge amount of money from his dad and as a student in Yogyakarta, it is normal for parents to give monthly money to their kids but his partner was always complaining on how this was not enough. For us, it was just the opposite. We opened our cafe and infoshop with 100 thousand rupiah. We cooked and sold food at day time and had good but cheap coffee plus anarchists texts/books in the evening as well as holding routine discussions with various independent communities. We just didn’t understand it but at the time we were also dealing with own problems. At one point one of us was being asked our names by undercover cops and then without wasting any time we managed to avoid the pig and looked for a safer place. We contacted Tobi and other friends to ask if they have some spare money to share because we need a temporary place to hide and to think of a new strategy on how not to be recognized. Tobi sent, 10 dollars,or 20? I forget, around that amount and it was enough for a day and after that we figured out another place again. Still not knowing anything about all the Palang Hitam fundraising, at one time both of us wanted to initiate a project, we were bored. And I was fed up of being afraid to be imprisoned again. We wanted to storm the heavens again. I asked a close friend from abroad, he managed a donation from one ABC in Europe. Consequently, I asked Tobi’s partner whether they’d received the money from abroad. she said yes but the money was for Aftonomi not for PH. I was confused, I asked Tobi, (I now forget the amount but it was around 700 or 800 euros)and Tobi told me the amount minus a critical zero (like 70-80 euro) and was now suddenly admitting that the money was indeed for me. He got into debates with his partner and then I showed the email from my friend and the amount of the money and then Tobi was saying yes that was for PH and Aftonomi (I remember this because I was promoting Tobi to my close comrades abroad), I was angry and he was just silent. Tobi lied. And he said that one million rupiah of the money was for me but I objected, I showed him the detailed email and demanded he transfer 4 million rupiah to me. I didn’t care about the rest, I gave the money to other comrades in Java that were also in need of money although they were not hunted. And the rest I used and saved some hundreds thousand.
Because of that lie I warned him to be more honest in communicating things. I said to him that I would do the best I can to support his project, promoting it, but at least be honest however this instance introduced some suspicion.
THE SNITCH AND THE SUPPORT OF SOME PALANG HITAM MEMBERS OF HIM
I owed Tobi for this. At the time when I was giving them the idea of cross-checking investigation records, they photographed all of Ucil’s investigation records and there was no name, not a single one. I was very proud with Ucil, it proved beyond a doubt he had not snitched. A week passed of Tobi secretly taking photos of the snitch’s records in the pages where he told the police the fiction about me and other names of our friends, I call it fiction because we never coordinated with him and he was not in our committee. As stated earlier I had criticized them hard on why they were still using Sultan art space platform. I went to their hangout place but far from debate about the issue as I had expected I got only silence from most of them, one of their ‘leaders’ was sitting beside me, Azwar was there (the snitch), being silent all the time.
After I found out about the snitch Azwar from Tobi, I was surprised that one of my trusted comrades and and friend already knew this but were trying to keep it from me and were trying to convinced me that he was not really snitching, he was just afraid. I don’t buy this because most of what he told the pigs was not true, he made it all up. Thus there was an internal fight over this and I was pissed off. I knew the pigs were already trying to find any violation or just anything about me. But that’s not a justification for snitching on people and that snitch Azwar knew very well that I was already arrested before and still he decided on telling them I was the instigator of the M1 arsenal. Later when Ucil was released he managed to inform me that it was not only Azwar that snitched on me but other leftists in the his network also did. I won the internal fight against tolerating snitches, it wasn’t just about me, but also about Palang Hitam principle concerning snitches. I and other friends cannot do much, our only possible means of communication was through phones. One of my close comrades after knowing this sent an email saying that if Palang Hitam still wanted to continue to support Azwar then they will cut Palang Hitam from the rest of his network. And finally the article about the snitch was uploaded on the Palang Hitam website.
In my recent personal messages to some funders I stated that much of what Tobi had done had been a good job, if this has caused any confusion about the situation and my stance on it I apologize. To clarify, I was just saying that during those two months after the M1 arrests Tobi and his partner were the only people that we could delegate to. Our discovery of Tobi’s misuse of funds was a process. It took many days to uncover the scale of it (which is still now ongoing) as well as our shock in processing this betrayal emotionally. This has been a confusing time for me. It was not meant as a justification for all of his lies and his crazy craving for funding. Upon the discovery I initially asked J, who has organizational experience and is very good in handling money, to take over Palang Hitam but we have since decided to hold a congress of all members of Palang Hitam. It is no small feat as many of us have to travel long distances however we feel its essential in order to successfully make a more structured, transparent organisation that’s strict in principles and accountable.
I told Tobi to temporarily freeze the Palang Hitam social media accounts, as we were starting a new crowd funding for a new project altogether and I didn’t want to be crowdfunding on two platforms at once. I asked him how much money was left, it had been just previously agreed upon some of the money would go to recent projects. This was when he first confessed to keeping money for himself however at this point he claimed it was only one donation he pocketed. I then announced on our twitter account for all funders to contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I don’t have a laptop therefore it has been difficult in finding more details in his account, I only have one small android which is very slow and difficult in typing long sentences. But then I caught him lying to me again and again and again as more and more proof of his craving or funding started to fill the Palang Hitam inbox.
I now regret that I in anyway initially seemingly pardoned him. Aftonomi is always closed and Tobi has disappeared. Our friends in that city have been trying to take their stuff back such as the t-shirt printing screen – Tobi got it for free – and all of the books that I am sure he was too lazy to read, he only translates or google-translated ‘books’ to get funding by fooling people who don’t know Indonesian. We print our own books not using money from abroad but from our network of friends. W never use “anarchy” as a literal means in gaining money for the sake of money and all of these projects are not a lucrative business at all. All of us do it because we feel it relevant to our lives and we have strong passion and joy in doing it. Tobi, a person whom I met one and a half year ago, the wikipedia anarchist type, have insulted us, all the dedicated anarchists that translated books and articles for the sake of learning and sharing, and we don’t even need money from abroad. Yes, we do need donation sometimes but Tobi makes us look as if we are always dependent on outside help. Tobi never shared the information about all of his funding with us and what the reasons were he was asking money for constantly such as trying to fund a google-translated book, and lots of lots of lies even until this minute he is still lying to me just about everything. Right now he is nowhere to be found.
I and on behalf of all new members of Palang Hitam that will soon congress, to everyone, we are sorry. Some of us were just too naive, some of us were just not aware enough, we knew nothing at all concerning Tobi’s constant craving for more money. Our latest decision has been to confiscate all of the materials donated in Aftonomi including the books which one of our Dutch friends donated to him. Honestly, we are very sceptical if he can repay his debts. His partner told me he would and has been insistent to clear his name. She is insisting that she can pay his debt and was trying her best to convince me that Tobi’s deed wasn’t the type of the thing that can not be forgiven. One of us told her forgiveness is impossible as its not just about the money alone but it’s about the trust, the trust cannot be repayed with money.
Personally for me, Tobi had used the situations for his own benefit. He admitted it, he was ‘addicted’ to funding. Tobi had wronged all of the “selfless” work done by generations of Anarchists in Indonesia and the whole world, in which we all know that most anarchists are poor people and yet we choose to always help each other.
Tobi or Dwi is a fucking traitor who used our platform and network for his personal use, he already admitted this and we think we don’t need anymore defensive argument from his side. He maybe was an Anarchist and dedicated to Palang Hitam for two months after M1, but after that he is just this worthless parasite, succumbed to the banality of capitalist egoism.
PALANG HITAM ANARKIS INDONESIA
PS: For further inquiries of Palang Hitam Clandestine Congress, please contact email@example.com (the only legit email now). And if there are some issues, we would like to have email correspondence. We are not used to social media drama and commenting.
Also we are still launching our crowdfunding using firefund platform for our congress, because the most expensive things are transportation of members from different islands. We simply cannot afford that. We wish Tobi could pay his debts in time but the last five days he’s said he is already penniless. Support our congress: http://firefund.net/abc