Here’s a haunting documentary to look out for. Some 500,000 to 1 million Indonesians were butchered in the mid-1960s. The synopsis from the official website:
Directed by anthropologist Robert Lemelson and edited by two-time Academy Award winner Pietro Scalia, “40 years of silence: An Indonesian tragedy” is a moving feature length documentary film about one of the most horrific chapters in Indonesia’s history.
In one of the largest unknown mass killings of the 20th century, an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 people were secretly and systematically killed in 1965-1966, when General Suharto began a bloody purge of suspected communists throughout Indonesia.
Under his authoritarian rule, any discussion, recognition or memorialising of the mass killings that differed from the Suharto’s official state narrative was quickly suppressed.
“40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy” follows the compelling testimonies of four individuals and their families from Central Java and Bali, two regions heavily affected by the purge.
As they break their silence publicly for the first time, each family provides an intimate and frightening look at what it was like for survivors of the mass killings.
In chilling detail, they describe the events of 1965 through their own experiences; re-living and reflecting upon the stigmatisation and brutalisation that they continue to endure on both the village and state levels.
Over time, the survivors and their families attempt to find ways to deal with a tragedy that was not openly recognised by their neighbours, government or the world.
Through their stories, the audience will come to understand modern-day Indonesia’s potential for retribution, rehabilitation and reconciliation within this troubled historical context.
The characters’ narratives illustrate that such violence creates tears in the social and political fabric of society, which can take generations to heal.
I wonder if the documentary will touch on the role of CIA officers in Indonesia who reportedly compiled their own “death lists” for Suharto’s killing spree and reportedly ticked off the names as their targets were captured or killed.
This bloody chapter in Indonesian history led to collaboration between Western governments and their poster boy, Suharto, as they carved out Indonesia’s economy for control by multinational corporations. It also paved the way for the re-involvement of the IMF and the World Bank in Indonesia, largely serving Western economic interests while benefiting local elites.