Monash University Publishing | Contacts Page
Monash University Publishing: Advancing knowledge

Breaking the Silence: Survivors Speak about 1965–66 Violence in Indonesia

Editor’s comments

This book, originally published in Indonesian in 2010, titled Memecah Pembisuan: Tuturan penyintas tragedi ’65–’66, is the product of collaboration between the interviewees, interviewers, writers, illustrators, commentators, writer of the foreword, those who inspired us, those who initiated the project, and the funders.

Together, we felt the need to publish this book so as to erode Indonesia’s mono-faced history which represents the interests only of those in power. We want to build a history that represents diversity and includes the experiences of those actors categorised as ‘the defeated’. In the particular case of the humanitarian tragedy or 1965–1966 in Indonesia, the New Order (namely the military and Golkar) succeeded, through various formal and informal media, in indoctrinating people with history that was full of lies, discriminative and fictive; a history that the government has, to this day, still never clarified.

‘The defeated’ are now termed the survivors, namely those who managed to survive oppression and succeeded in their fight to restore themselves, even though their civil rights have still not been fully restored. The project began with the interviewees telling their experiences to the interviewers, who made transcripts of the recorded interviews. Some of the interviewers then wrote narratives based on the transcript. Others handed the transcript to the Lembaga Kreatifitas Kemanusiaan (LKK, Institute for Human Creativity) to be written up by others. LKK then invited a few writers – mainly young people with some writing experience – to write narratives based on the transcripts. The end product is 15 narratives from source interviewees in Medan, Palu, Kendari, Yogjakarta, Jakarta, Bali, Kupang and the island of Sabu.

In the editing process, I made very few changes, especially as far as writing style is concerned, so that the different approaches in the book would be maintained. There were many considerations we had to take into account in writing up all the data clearly, because even today the survivors still experience discrimination. But the narratives in this book are entirely based on the life experiences of the resource interviewees. Our hope is that their voices will help push the government and all parties involved to become wiser, more humane and fair in treating the survivors as fellow human beings.

The Lembaga Kreatifitas Kemanusiaan (LKK) would like to express its gratitude to the Tifa Foundation and the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) who entrusted us with coordinating this program. LKK also wishes to thank Bung Budi Setiyono from Historia, Sri Lestari Wahyuningroem and Dody Yuniar from ICTJ for running the writing workshop for young writers, which was the start of the program. Thank you too to Galuh Wandita, Director of Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) – an NGO promoting accountability and human rights in the Asia region – who agreed to write the foreword; Samuel Gultom from TIFA, and other colleagues. LKK also wishes to express its deep respect and gratitude to the interviewees, some of whom preferred not to have their real names cited, also to the interviewers and to the writers: Akhmad Zakky, Alice, Amangku Bumi, Anandito Reza B., Dorkas Nyake Wiwi, Fati Soewandi, Nancy, Ilham Dayawan, Ika Mustika, Mery Kolimon, Paoina Ngefak-Bara Pa, Puti Yassmina, Rini Prastnawati, Roro Sawita, and Tachrin Ny. Thank you to the illustrators, Salim M, Adrianus Gumelar and Kuncoro A.Broto, and JAKER which helped with the printing of the original Indonesian book. LKK also expresses its gratitude for the support of the Goethe Institute in Jakarta.

There still remain many people living in towns and outlying regions all over Indonesia prepared to talk about their experiences, whom we have not been able to include in this book. This is why similar projects of documentation and writing up the life stories in the popular media are still very much needed. We hope that LKK does not rest on its laurels, but continues its work and to inspire others.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Herb Feith Foundation and editors of the Translating Accounts of the 1965–66 Mass Violence in Indonesia Series, Dr Jemma Purdey and Dr Kate McGregor, for their willingness to publish Memecah Pembisuan in English language translation. I hope that this book will supplement existing documentation about the humanitarian tragedy of 1965–66.

With deep respect,

   Putu Oka Sukanta

   Editor and coordinator

Breaking the Silence: Survivors Speak about 1965–66 Violence in Indonesia

   by Putu Oka Sukanta