NIOD onderzoeker Martijn Eickhoff doet onderzoek naar het massaal geweld tegen communisten en vermeende communisten in Indonesië in 1965/66. In die tijd werden ca. 1 miljoen mensen vermoord. Het geweld is lange tijd onderbelicht geweest maar dit verandert momenteel. Deze blogpost is in het Engels.
Door Martijn Eickhoff
One of the biggest – and paradoxically relatively unknown – waves of mass violence of the 20th century took place in Indonesia in 1965/66. During the ‘anti-communist’ massacres of these years, approximately one million people were killed. The violence took place within the international setting of the Cold War and in the national context of regime-change leading towards Suharto’s New Order. Although the New Order ended in 1998, the Indonesian state has not yet accounted for the past acts of mass violence committed under its responsibility. In the official historical culture, these killings remain unmentioned or are only referred to in euphemistic terms such as ‘crushing communism’, and as a result, they are celebrated as a victory of the nation.
But historical culture is dynamic. Recently I had the honour to interview Joshua Oppenheimer during the Movies that Matter Festival and Leila Chudori during the Tong Tong Fair.
Joshua Oppenheimer, well-known for his documentaries The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014), and Leila Chudori, famous for her novel Pulang (2012), each contributed in a different way to the de-stigmatisation of the survivors of the violence who in the official discourse on ‘1965’ are generally depicted as criminals, atheists and traitors of the nation, and therefore marginalized.
It was only after my interview with Chudori that I realized that something important had happened because of the location of the interview. The interview took place during the Tong Tong Fair (formerly known as Pasar Malam Besar). This large and vibrant festival – dedicated to European-Indonesian culture – is held annually, since 1959, in The Hague. This year, in the so-called Tong-Tong-theatre many violent chapters of the recent Indonesian history were discussed (1945-49, 1965 and 1998). It is remarkable that the discussions on ‘1965’ attracted a lot of attention in the Indonesian press (for an overview see below).
I can only conclude from this that the discussion of this particular topic during the Tong Tong Fair proves that the memory of ‘1965’ has gained an important new social space and is now in the course of being ‘officially’ integrated in (at least) Dutch-Indonesian culture. For Indonesian newspapers, this obviously is a fact worthy to report on. I hope it will sustain the idea that discussing ‘1965’ will not lead to social destabilization, as some critics fear, but, to the contrary, has the potential to contribute to social cohesion.
‘1965’ in the Indonesian press:
The Jakarta Post, June 1, 2015: Tongtong Fair celebrates Europe’s pluralism
The Jakarta Globe, June 7, 2015: Voicing Indonesia’s Silence on 1965 in The Hague
Koran Tempo, June 5, 2015: Membuka Lubang Hitam Sejarah
The novel Pulang (Naar Huis) is translated into Dutch by Hendrik Maier and will be available for Dutch readers this autumn.