View all notes A good example of the first perspective is the description of the violence by the famous Dutch East Indies-born writer Hella S. Here she related her experiences during her first return to Indonesia in Haasse referred to the killings as an irrational destructiveness erupting out of the Indonesian people. The deportation of detainees to concentration camps on remote Buru Island she described as an important social experiment, deserving of financial support from abroad. Hella S. View all notes This account echoed representations produced repeatedly by the New Order regime itself.
At the other end of the spectrum stands the plea by Noam Chomsky and Edward S.
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Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Edward S. Chomsky and Herman, Counter-Revolutionary Violence , 15— Over the last two decades, a wide range of balanced and often detailed studies have increased understanding of the Indonesian massacres. View all notes They range from concise overviews in handbooks of genocide studies, 24 View all notes through studies on certain regions such as Bali, 25 Saskia E.
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View all notes Others have focused on New Order history writing, 28 View all notes and on international relations during the Cold War. View all notes Gradually these scholars have created a robust corpus of knowledge on the ways in which mass violence unfolded on both a micro and macro level. Douglas Kammen and Katharine E. View all notes It succeeded for the first time in providing an overview of the violence against the political left in Indonesia in different parts of the country.
Regional case studies contributed in particular to understanding the roles of the military and civilian groups in stimulating, organizing and perpetrating violence. She makes this point on the basis of the so-called Indonesian genocide files, which she discovered when writing her doctoral thesis.
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These military documents reveal that killings in Aceh took place in four distinct phases, in step with orders issued by the military chain of command. These are important insights, derived by combining micro and macro perspectives.
Yet our overall knowledge remains severely circumscribed, even at the most general level of events. Most documentation remains inaccessible. Many new—comparative—questions are still difficult to answer. As a result, probably the most crucial question in this area remains open, namely the precise connection between the roles played by the military and by societal groups before, during and after the massacres. View all notes How and why did civilians participate in the social and political polarization before the killings took place, and in the killings themselves?
How did they help to build the myths surrounding the violence afterwards? Comparisons with anti-communist pogroms elsewhere only add to the puzzlement. Where anti-communist violence in, for example, Spain, El Salvador or Guatemala had followed significant communist violence, this had hardly been the case in Indonesia. Even more puzzlingly, where military violence against leftists in, for example, Argentina or Thailand took place with little popular support, many Indonesians seemed to endorse it. Comparative genocide studies do promise valuable insights for future research.
The same can be said of the violence during the Indonesian Revolution of — Bart Luttikhuis and A. Dirk Moses London: Routledge, , — View all notes The political scientist Ernesto Verdeja, for example, concluded in that the Indonesian massacres fell on the boundary.
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View all notes This seems to fit the Indonesian massacres very well. In the epilogue to the present special edition, he and his co-author Nanci Adler have no difficulty using the term genocide throughout. View all notes This surprise must have been occasioned by the assumption that the victim group, which at the time was primarily defined politically by the perpetrators, did not fall under the definition of the Genocide Convention. See, for example, Roosa, Pretext for Mass Murder , From the start of the twentieth century, he noted, Indonesia had been a project of a political, rather than an ethnic, character.
View all notes All this is in line with the way in which western-based academia has long contested traditional essentialist explanations of ethnicity. London: Verso, ; Eric J. Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds.
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View all notes But most everyday Indonesian discourse sees it differently. There, ethnicity is fixed and inheritable. It is important to emphasize that in this special issue we try to think of genocide in a scientific, historical and sociological way, while seeking comparisons within and between different cases of mass violence. Which aspects of the campaign were more genocidal in nature, and which ones were not? And why? It allows us to analyse the genocidal violence in past and present Indonesia in its broadest sense as socially constituted and institutionally internalized, and thus contextualized by the values, beliefs, interests and behaviour of all those involved.
Mary S. Zurbuchen Singapore: Singapore University Press, , 47—73, here View all notes Such silence is real and has many dimensions. Besides being a social and cultural phenomenon, silence is also an institutional legacy. When President Suharto was forced to resign in May , his armed forces commander General Wiranto publicly pledged to protect him from prosecution. Now retired, Wiranto is still around. He is coordinating minister for politics and security under President Joko Widodo.
The democratic transition following the fall of Suharto was in reality a negotiated pact between New Order hardliners and democratizers. It left much of the pre era intact. All presidents since then have been surrounded by retired officers. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was himself a retired general. The two best books on post reforms are Dwight Y. Since , civil society groups like Kontras, Elsam and Lebaga Bantuan Hukum Jakarta LBH have demanded prosecutions for a wide variety of past abuses, the massacres of among them.
View all notes But military intervention ensured their efforts were to no avail. Only in relation to East Timor in —where international pressure was high—were ad hoc courts actually established. However, all the resulting convictions were later overturned on appeal.
Robinson, The Killing Season. View all notes The military continue to cultivate such groups today. For example, military-backed thugs disrupted the first and so far only exhumation of a mass grave at Wonosobo, Central Java, in November View all notes Occasionally, retired military patrons openly voice threats to unleash violence again. Co , March 17, View all notes Afterwards nobody censured him in public.
It is never clear whether such talk actually represents settled policy within the senior officer corps, or bluster from ageing men frustrated that their brand of anti-communism no longer inspires the middle-class passion it once did. Military figures hover over the ministries as well.
View all notes State archives related to the massacres remain almost entirely sealed. In this light it is not surprising that Jess Melvin, while researching her PhD about military involvement in the genocide in Aceh, had to engage in the tactics of a guerrilla historian to uncover fifty-year-old local military archives. Yet silence within Indonesian society has never been all encompassing.
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The years following brought significant signs of change. Indeed, critical discussions of anti-communist violence were beginning to appear even before that date. Zurbuchen struck an optimistic note. Seven years after the fall of Suharto, she observed, Indonesian public intellectuals were beginning to address the way in which their society had formed and manipulated its memories of Zurbuchen, Beginning to Remember.
After his election in , he publicly apologized for the killings of alleged communists committed by members of the Islamic mass organization Nahdlatul Ulama whose leader he had been in the later Suharto years. View all notes In , the Indonesian parliament passed a law on a truth and reconciliation commission. However, in , the Indonesian constitutional court struck it down again. It ruled that the article providing reparation for victims only after they agreed to an amnesty for the perpetrators was unconstitutional.
Since then, attempts to pass a revised law have stalled. View all notes In the same era, non-governmental organizations NGOs and local grassroots organizations started collecting interviews, while survivors started publishing memoirs and organizing themselves into officially registered bodies. It defined its task as collecting data about the killings. View all notes However, anti-communist and religious paramilitary groups occasionally disturbed public gatherings in a violent way, protesting against any attempts to rehabilitate survivors and their families. The last decade in particular witnessed some important new initiatives though all were countered by the Indonesian state.
View all notes The report was based on testimonies of witnesses and survivors. See the contribution of Aboeprijadi Santoso and Gerry van Klinken to this special issue. But survivors and activists who attended said it focused too much on reconciliation, rather than on fact-finding or apology. View all notes Over the same period, the violence of has become the subject of representation in popular culture and media both inside and outside Indonesia.
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Novels that question stereotypes are sold throughout Indonesia. View all notes The total ran to 1,, published anywhere in the world. Of these, 1, had been published in Indonesia, and of those, appeared after democratization in This post Indonesian collection includes autobiographical books, novels, polemical and scholarly books, but also films, sound recordings, magazine and newspaper articles, and television documentaries.
Important examples are the Indonesian Tempo magazine edition that in dedicated a special issue to , 65 Kurniawan et al. View all notes and the Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer and his anonymous co-director of that same year, in which former perpetrators re-enact the killings.
It is available online and invoked serious public debate both within and outside Indonesia. For a critical reflection on the movie by thirteen scholars and activists, see Robert Cribb et al. These numbers indicate that, alongside those Indonesians who remain convinced that communism is a contemporary threat and who prefer to silence uncomfortable reminders of the past, more and more others are becoming interested in engaging with that past.
The audiences may still be small. Books can be found in bookshops but not in classrooms; documentaries can be downloaded from the internet but are rarely screened on TV or in mainstream film theatres. Yet an Indonesian historical culture with regard to the massacres of undeniably exists. The many oral history projects that have been initiated in Indonesia since the fall of Suharto are a case in point. See, for example, Putu Oka Sukanta, ed. Wardaya SJ, shows that survivors and witnesses of mass violence in Central Java feel a strong need to better understand what happened.