‘Half a century on, victims’ voices haunt a democratic Indonesia’ The Conversation
Edited by former political prisoner Putu Oka Sukanta, this is a collection of accounts from people around the archipelago who experienced the 1965 violence in Indonesia. Fifteen witnesses from Medan, Palu, Kendari, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Bali, Kupang and Sabu Island share their stories of how they navigated this horrifying period of Indonesian history and how they have lived with this past. The book is based on life history interviews with ordinary people who worked as teachers, artists, women’s activists and policemen, whose lives were turned upside down when the attack on those considered to be supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party began. These accounts, including one from a perpetrator who is now tormented by guilt, and survivors who still feel isolated and rejected by society, show how the violence continues to influence Indonesian society.
The book will be a valuable resource for students of history, of Indonesia and for people wanting to understand the impact of this violence.
Putu Oka Sukanta, born in Bali in 1939, is a writer and editor of fiction and non-fiction. He has written novels, poetry, collections of stories, and books about HIV/AIDS and traditional healing. His writing has also been published in English, German, and French translation. From 1966 to 1976 Putu was detained without trial because he was an activist with the leftist arts organization LEKRA. He now lives in Jakarta, where he has an acupuncture practice, works to promote traditional medicine, and is active in programs for human rights and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Putu is often invited overseas to present his writing and ideas. In 2012 he was awarded a Hellman/Hammett grant for commitment to free expression and courage in the face of persecution by Human Rights Watch, New York.