Thursday, 18 February 2016


Ini tulisan istriku yang termuat dalam buklet pameran senirupaku 'THEY KILLED THEM' - tentang pembantaian terhadap kaum komunis di Indonesia tahun 1965. Pameran ini terselenggara awal tahun 2015 bertempat di Moors Building Contemporary Art Gallery Fremantle Western Australia. Untuk selayang-pandang karyaku dalam pameran ini silahkan menuju ke
Semoga bisa segera kuterjemahkan. Dan aku sudah bilang ini sejak awal tahun 2015. Jadi sudah setahun belum kuterjemahkan.

Nearly fifty years after the mass violence of 1965-66 - the killings and torture of more than a million people and the illegal detention of perhaps a million more people for 10 and more years - those responsible for these crimes against humanity have never been held accountable. These acts of mass murder and the systematic mass violence carried out against communists and left-wing sympathizers in Indonesia in 1965-66 facilitated the rise of the 32-year Suharto dictatorship.

This brutal regime imposed an enforced silence over the true nature of the mass violence from the outset. This silence allowed complete impunity for those responsible for and those who were directly involved in carrying out the mass killings. This enforced silence was institutionalized through the creation of a version of events, an official historical “narrative” that was created to legitimize the actions of the Indonesian state bureaucracy, the military and members of civil organisations who were directly responsible for carrying out the killings and other crimes against humanity. Those responsible for and who directly benefited from the mass violence have been the prime defenders of this official narrative. This narrative portrays mass murderers as the nation’s heroes, having rescued the new Indonesian nation from the threat of communist evil. Perpetrators have never been made accountable for their crimes but rather continue to publicly brag about their acts of torture and murder against fellow citizens.
In the sixteen and more years since the fall of the Suharto regime, the New Order narrative about 1965 has been maintained. A ban on communism remains in place and the content of school history curriculum allows no debate or discussion of other versions of events that contradict the Suharto version as a result of an Attorney-General decision to ban alternative historical accounts. State museums and monuments that depict the Suharto version of events remain the only official public version of events.

The ongoing official silence surrounding these historic crimes however has not been completely unanimous. Indonesia’s own National Human Rights Commission submitted a report on the 1965-66 mass violence to the Attorney-General for further action in 2012. The report based on four years of intensive investigation by the Commission’s investigative team, often under conditions of great hostility and threats of violence, concluded that nine different crimes against humanity had been committed during this wave of genocidal violence. These crimes included murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or forcible movement of people against their will, deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, persecution and enforced disappearances. Until today the Attorney-General refuses to take legal action based on the Commission’s report.

Fear of punitive actions for perpetrators if they are held accountable for their crimes remains one of the motivations for the defence of the New Order 1965 narrative. At the same time this narrative and the culture of impunity that it promotes, provides ongoing legitimation for acts of state violence. Anti-communist legislation continues to effectively restrict free and open debate of political ideas and alternative ideologies. It is used as a justification, or an ideological defence, for ongoing political repression by the state against those who do not agree with them, for example separatist movements in Papua and previously in Aceh. It is used to legitimize acts of state repression against democratic movements for justice more generally. This ideology, inherited from the New Order regime, indicates the non-democratic values of many of the elite forces that currently hold power. This culture of impunity and the restrictions on rights to free and open discussion of ideology, constrain the freedoms of civil society to engage in open discourse about the possibilities for deepening and strengthening political democracy and its institutions.

Public screenings in Indonesia of the film ‘Senyap’ (the Look of Silence) in late 2014, that discusses the 1965 events from the position of victims and survivors of the 1965 mass violence, were threatened with violence by civilian groups and police refused to provide protection for these public events. In these cases, impunity for those who seek to continue to deny the opportunity to talk openly about the past remains potent. In early 2015 the Indonesian State Censor made the controversial decision to ban the film ‘Senyap’ arguing that it promoted sympathy with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and because much of the story is based on oral histories of survivors of the mass violence, in particular the younger brother of a murdered PKI member who faces his brother’s killers, not on historical ‘reality’. Some state officials and civil organization leaders have claimed the film promotes conflict between social groups that were attempting to ‘move on’ and reconcile themselves peacefully with these horrific events from the past.

However ‘reconciliation’ with the past, between those who benefited from - and those who suffered - as a result of the mass violence, cannot be separated from demands for justice for victims and survivors of the violence. Justice requires public acknowledgement of the crimes against humanity that have been committed by the state and civil society organizations against ordinary Indonesian citizens and the restoration (rehabilitation) of full human rights for all citizens. This includes defence of citizens’ rights to live free from discrimination and stigma. It includes support for younger generations of survivors who lack education and employment opportunities because their family members were murdered, incarcerated without trial, lost their land, housing and employment and were stripped of their social and political rights for several generations. Given the survival of this veil of silence over past and current atrocities and the culture of impunity that remains potent, I continue to wonder how a society that continues to accept and defend gross violations of human rights against their own citizens, might imagine a democratic, fair and just future for its people?

Rebecca Meckelburg
Has lived in and been involved in social-political movement in Indonesia for 10 years and recently completed an academic thesis entitled Changes and Continuities: The 1965 Authoritarian Narrative After Suharto. She is a doctoral candidate in Indonesian politics at Murdoch University, Australia.

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