Publication Date: Oct 2015
RRP: $39.95
ISBN: 9781922235909
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Category: Herb Feith Translation Series

Forbidden Memories

Women’s Experiences of 1965 in Eastern Indonesia

Mery Kolimon, Liliya Wetangterah and Karen Campbell-Nelson

This is the first book to consider the experiences of women survivors of 1965 anti-communist violence in the majority Christian province Eastern Indonesia. So far, most studies of the 1965 violence have focused on the Muslim majority population of Java and Hindu majority population of Bali. The book presents stories from across the regions of Sumba, Sabu, Alor, Kupang and other parts of West Timor of women who were imprisoned and tortured or whose husbands were murdered. The book is a critical examination of the role of the Protestant Church at the time of the violence and in its aftermath, including ongoing sanctions and political purges against those considered to be supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party. Themes include the impact of the violence on women teachers, members of the women’s organisation Gerwani and the fracturing of social and religious communities. The writers critique the role of religious and state institutions for failing to care for this vulnerable community in the face of state terrorism and a culture of fear. The editors and research team hope this publication will create a safe and peaceful environment for survivors to tell their stories and for society to acknowledge their suffering and to struggle with them to restore their rights.

Mery Kolimon, Liliya Wetangterah and Karen Campbell-Nelson

Mery Kolimon was born in SoE, South Central Timor. She began serving as a pastor with the congregation in Bijeli, East Mollo Presbytery, South Central Timor (1997-99). After completing her doctoral studies at the Protestant Theological University in Holland in 2008, she worked as a lecturer at her alma mater, the Faculty of Theology at Artha Wacana Christian University (UKAW) Kupang. Apart from acting as Director of the Postgraduate program at UKAW, Mery is also coordinator of the Women’s Network of East Indonesia (Jaringan Perempuan Indonesia Timur, JPIT). Mery wrote the story of her father’s role as a perpetrator in the book Memecah Pembisuan, ed. Putu Oka Sukanta (2011), published in English as Breaking the Silence (Melbourne: Monash University Press 2014).

Liliya Wetangterah was born in Kupang. She completed her theological studies at the Faculty of Theology at UKAW in 2007 and served with the Ebenhezer-Oeba Congregation in Kupang. The following year, she began further study of church law at the Jakarta Theology College (Sekolah Tinggi Teologi/STT Jakarta), and graduated in March 2011. In November 2011, Lia joined the JPIT research team, assisting in particular with editing. In the same month she had the opportunity to attend a conference on church law in Holland. While she was there she carried out some interviews to assist the report of the Sumba research team, and also managed to gather some relevant documentation. Now Lia is teaching at Sekolah Tinggi Agama Negeri (STAKN) Kupang.

Karen Campbell-Nelson, Ed.D., works as a professor on the Theology Faculty and with the Graduate Program of Artha Wacana Christian University (UKAW) in Kupang, NTT, Indonesia. She has experience with human rights documentation and gender issues, including gender- and sexual-based violence, at local, national, and international levels. She served as a consultant with the Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliaion of Timor-Leste (CAVR), the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, UNIFEM (now UN Women), and the International Center for Transitional Justice in Indonesia. Besides teaching, she joins others in the Women’s Network of Eastern Indonesia (JPIT), Asian Justice and Rights (AJAR), and the Alliance Against Human Trafficking (AMPERA) in research, training, and advocacy efforts on behalf of gender justice.