Why is it so difficult for Indonesians to remember the conflict that surrounded the transfer of Papua from the Dutch to Indonesia that culminated in the Act of Free Choice referendum (Pepera) in 1969?
The same difficulties are also evident in the “Bersiap”, or “Get Ready”, period in the early days of Indonesian independence and in the nation’s communist purge in 1965. Most Indonesians will admit that they are uninterested or clueless about the issues, if they do not avoid these topics altogether.
Obviously, nation-building is a violent and bloody process. Indonesia is no exception. The blood that was shed in the formative years of the Indonesian nation has usually been romanticized into heroic stories that were sometimes inhumane and violent in nature — and not much different from other forms of political violence.
These blind spots in our national histo...