When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, I opted for traditional medicine and self-healing. One of the people who helped me was Putu Oka Sukanta, an acupuncturist and herbalist. In fact, he was the first person I told about my illness, before even my family. I trusted him, and sought his advice.
But it wasn’t just health issues I discussed with him. We also talked about his writing and the repression and humiliation he had experienced as a political prisoner.
That’s right, Putu had been a Tapol (tahanan politik, political prisoner) for 10 years, from 1966 to 1976. He had been chucked into jail for his involvement with Lekra (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat, The Institute for People’s Culture), which was linked to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), banned since 1965.
Like millions of other Indonesians, Putu Oka was a victim of the aftermath of the G30S mov...