During the Suharto era, Rendra lived for a long time in a poor district of Jakarta, where artists from all over the world (including Günter Grass) visited. Throughout the seventies Rendra was increasingly important as a poet and his performances and poetry readings were mass events. In 1979, during a poetry reading in the Ismail Marzuki art center in Jakarta, Suharto’s military intelligence agents threw ammonia bombs on to the stage and arrested him. He was imprisoned in the notorious Guntur military prison for nine months, spending time in solitary confinement in a cell with a ceiling too low to stand up and only mosquitoes for company. When he was released, without ever having been charged, his body was covered with sores from mosquito bites.
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