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Jakarta Post

Issue of the day: Ubud cancels sessions on 1965 massacre

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Wed, October 28, 2015   /  08:40 am

Oct. 24, p1

Organizers of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF), due to kick off Friday, have canceled all sessions that were to look at the massacre of communists in Indonesia in the 1960s, citing pressure from the government.

Three panel discussions, a book launch and an art exhibition, as well as a screening of Joshua Oppenheimer'€™s film The Look of Silence, have been scrapped from the festival in Ubud, the internationally renowned artists'€™ village in the hills of Bali.

The cancelation was announced after organizers attended a meeting with officials, led by Gianyar Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Farman.

UWRF founder and director Janet DeNeefe said that she was extremely disappointed to announce the cancelations, which came among a series of actions by the Indonesian government in response to the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.

'€œAs a festival, our mission is to create an open platform where people can come together to discuss the issues that affect us,'€ DeNeefe said in a statement.

Your comments:

What a shame, Indonesia is still far from being a free country.


The fear of communism was one thing. The fear of Soviet Expansion was the real thing. The irony today is '€” how we could be so fearful of collective labor and harmony (a myth, I get it) but, 50 years later, we are embroiled in the oldest form of unrest...purely based on religion.

Tertigo Tertuga

Yup, the Komnas HAM report mentions all that and more. I was just taking a few excerpts from a brief The Jakarta Post article on a very long detailed report.

The point is, nobody who'€™s anybody today wants to talk about it because they are implicated, and the one not implicated is looking at Mega for further directions.

If you read the report, long though it is, or even newspaper articles describing the report (in both Bahasa and English) it points the finger squarely at Soeharto and the military people including SBY'€™s father-in-law.

That'€™s why the AGO rejected it and DPR refused to discuss it (by law the commission'€™s reports must be presented to the AGO and deliberated by the DPR).

Wandering Star

It seems the organizer has little knowledge either about the 1965 '€œtragedy'€ or on Bali'€™s history related to the 1965 '€œtragedy'€. It'€™s just utterly unmindful or utterly ignorant to have decided to discuss the issue in Bali.

I find it odd that there has not been a ritual staged to address this. Many bodies not cremated, many murderers still walking Ubud'€™s streets. Local corruption stops the police investigating criminals who have got away with it so far.

The films have been mandatory viewing for some TNI outside of Bali, so it is not a national anathema to discuss this.


The country flaunts itself as a democracy but in reality, and in many important fields (open discourse, human rights, minority rights, governance, transparency, rule of law, environmental protection, etc.) it falls short, miserably, of democratic tenets.

A mature democracy banning discussion of a past event where up to 1 million lives were lost is unthinkable, more so in an organized platform such as this festival.

The familiar fallback line '€œThis is for the benefit of the people,'€ given by the local police chief Farman, is patronizing, presumptuous and unproven. The retort is: How do you know it'€™s for people'€™s benefit, have you tried allowing these discussions?

If it'€™s sensitive, '€œwould just open up old wounds'€ as Farman said, then arrange for more police personnel during the festival '€” isn'€™t that the police'€™s job?

The truth is, one suspects members of the old guard, perpetrators of the killings, are still alive and well, and in control.

Nothing changes, other than the name, now democracy. It was New Order before.


Well said. The problem is: Indonesia is not even at a stage to discuss the possibility of a discussion!

An educated mid-20s friend just told me: '€œIt'€™s because there are still communists around and they must be killed first.'€ And he wasn'€™t even kidding!


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