Episode 140      31 min 24 sec
A bullet for your thoughts: Recollections of persecution in Indonesia in the mid-1960s

Historian Dr Kate McGregor revisits Indonesia's 30 September Movement, which resulted in the killings and persecution of 100,000s of Indonesians in the mid-1960s. Only in recent times have newly guaranteed freedoms of expression allowed survivors to openly recall their experiences of this defining moment in the country's not-too-distant past. With host Jennifer Cook.

"School text books could only talk about the official version of the 1965, 30 September movement, they rarely mentioned the scale of violence that occurred against the Indonesian Communist Party.  Instead the emphasis was on the deaths of the generals and how tragic that was." -- Dr Kate McGregor





           



Dr Kate McGregor
Dr Kate McGregor

Katharine McGregor is Senior Lecturer in Southeast Asian History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies.Her first book History in Uniform: Military Ideology and the Construction of Indonesia's Past, was published by Singapore University Press in conjunction with KITLV and the Asian Studies Association of Australia in February 2007. It has also been translated into Indonesian. The book examines military representations of the Indonesian past found in a variety of media including museums, monuments, commemorative days, films and written texts including the National History textbook. This official history served to both obscure and justify violence against the Indonesian Communist Party and its affiliates. For the last four years Katharine has been working on a project entitled 'Islam and the Politics of Memory in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia'. This project, funded by an Australian Research Council Grant, examines how memories of the 1965 violence have shaped personal and group identities. She has published extensively on this topic including articles, book chapters and a forthcoming edited book. In 2010, she co-founded, together with Professor Klaus Neumann at Swinburne University of Technology, the Historical Justice and Memory Network. Kate is currently developing with her research assistant and postgraduate student, Vannessa Hearman, a new research project entitled 'Indonesians on the World Stage: International Linkages after the Bandung Conference (1955-1965)'.  Katharine is councillor for the region of Southeast Asia for the Asian Studies Association of Australia.

Credits

Host: Jennifer Cook
Producers: Kelvin Param, Eric van Bemmel
Audio Engineer: Gavin Nebauer
Voiceover: Nerissa Hannink
Series Creators: Eric van Bemmel and Kelvin Param

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VOICEOVER
Welcome to Up Close, the research, opinion and analysis podcast from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

JENNIFER COOK
I’m Jennifer Cook.  Thanks for joining us.  For 32 years Indonesians struggled under the weight of Suharto’s hard line leadership - a regime that suppressed many religious and political freedoms and brutally punished any transgression.  But now, post Suharto, this population of more than 238 million people has emerged as one of the more successful multi party democracies in Asia and a key to that democracy is the right to freedom of speech.  Finally after decades of silence the stories of many who suffered terrible injustices under a violent regime are able to be told.
Dr Kate McGregor is a Senior Lecturer in South East Asian history at the University of Melbourne.  She joins us on this episode of Up Close to explain how the new found freedom of speech in Indonesia has let survivors of Suharto’s brutal crackdown on the communist party, the PKI, in the mid-60s to speak about their experience.  Kate thank you for joining us.

KATE MCGREGOR
You’re welcome.

JENNIFER COOK
Now Kate I’d like to begin by asking you to take us back to that time before Suharto, back to the 60s when Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno was in office and the communist party was growing in size and influence.  What was it like back then?

KATE MCGREGOR
Okay.  Commencing from 1959 President Sukarno implemented the system of guided democracy which meant he had a strong role as president in society.  There were still parties at that time but they weren’t competing freely in elections.  So during that period there was a great sense of dynamism in politics in the sense that people were being mobilised - particularly for big campaigns like the campaign to restore West Papua, now known as West Papua - then known as Irian Jaya - the territory that was left behind on the transfer of sovereignty in 1949.  So there was a campaign to restore that territory from the Dutch to return to Indonesian hands. 
That created a lot of momentum on society.  People training with arms, mobilising, protesting against the Dutch.  So there was a strong sort of anti-Dutch sentiment as well in Indonesia and anti-imperialist sentiment.  That campaign became very invigorated in the 1960s and also this progressed to a campaign in 1963 for opposition to the formation of a new country of Malaysia.  So that was known as the Confrontation Campaign.  So again both those two major campaigns mobilised people in a new found way.
At the same time the Indonesian Communist Party was attracting a lot of people with its message about modernity, but also new access to things that they hadn’t experienced before such as perhaps a more equal liberalised society.

JENNIFER COOK
A growing sense of nationalism.

KATE MCGREGOR
Mmm that’s right.

JENNIFER COOK
How does Sukarno intersect?  I’m very interested in this with these other two important centres of power at the time.  You have the army and the Indonesian Community Party, the PKI.

KATE MCGREGOR
First of all Sukarno in the system of guided democracy was very keen to play off those two forces - the Indonesian Communist Party and the army.  He was always wary I think of having too much army control.  The army was always interested in playing a political role in Indonesia and they got to play that role with the rise of Suharto in 1966.  But before that the communist party was very influential.  Sukarno was also attracted to Marxist ideas.  He had been from a very young age.  So he was interested in the ideas of the party.  I think he sympathised with them but he never declared himself to be a communist.
So it’s understood that by about 1963 he was increasingly radicalised and drawing closer to the Indonesian Communist Party.  That sort of seems a turning point - 1963.

JENNIFER COOK
How did the army cope with this and respond to this?

KATE MCGREGOR
Well at the same time the Indonesian Communist Party was seen to be growing in influence.  It reached a membership of three million people by 1965.  So it was the largest communist party outside the communist world.  Obviously the army were concerned about this. From the Indonesian revolution, they had already been fearful about the potential of the Indonesian Communist Party.  They crushed the Indonesian Communist Party during the revolution against the Dutch.  They were forever suspicious of the party.
So the army was traditionally anti-communist and it was also beginning to form alliances also with Western powers.  So army officers were already beginning to receive training in the West in the 1960s and forming these alliances. At the same time there were other alliances going on in society, even between Muslim groups in the Western world who were anti-communist.  So all these anti-communist alliances were also forming in Indonesia.  There was a united kind of opposition to the communist party at the same time.

JENNIFER COOK
Let’s look at religious groups.  How did they fare during the time leading up to what some call the September 30 coup?

KATE MCGREGOR
One of the largest Islamic organisations in Indonesia - the Nahdlatul Ulama, the council of Religions Scholars - was a party at that time.  It was a very important national organisation and its heartland was in East Java.  So as an organisation this party was very concerned about the influence of the communist party because they felt that communist ideology threatened the right to belief in religion.  So there was an ideological principle of objection.
At the same time Nahdlatul Ulama controlled a lot of Islamic boarding schools in the territory particular at East Java where they were the strongest.  Those boarding schools held large land holdings.  So when the communist party began to implement the government laws on land reform there were objections from the land owners who were the owners of the Islamic boarding schools.  So there were actually already armed clashes from around the 1960s as well when those land reforms were implemented between Muslim militias who formed in anticipation of clashes with the communist party and particular the Peasants Union who was an affiliated organisation with the communist party. 

JENNIFER COOK
Getting this insight again into Indonesia is the extremely complex multi-layered society.  So what happened on September 30 1965?

KATE MCGREGOR
Well just winding back a little bit from that.  There were already concerns about President Sukarno’s health in the year 1965.  So there was a great fear also within Indonesia but also outside Indonesia.  What would happen if Sukarno was removed from that equation?  With the communist party on one side, the army on the other and Sukarno in the middle.  So there was a concern would there be a communist takeover or would there be an army takeover.  Of course the Western world favoured the latter.
Some people have surmised that the Western world was also hoping and anticipating that there would be a pretext for the army to move against the Indonesian Communist Party.  On the 30th September 1965 a group of armed soldiers from the presidential guard, the Cakrabirawa guard kidnapped and killed seven of the senior army military leaders.  They killed them in a well – a disused well on the outskirts of Jakarta, a place called Lubang Buaya which means crocodile hole. 
After they had kidnapped the generals immediately the army moved to declare that movement as a communist plot and immediately they banned all communist newspapers - shut them down and began only publishing army newspapers.  So at that point they moved very quickly to declare this was a communist movement before the communist party could really react.
What we understand now - it’s a very complex movement and we understand that there were elements of the army supporting that movement.  We do believe that perhaps the chairman of the Indonesian Communist Party - Aidit - was involved in that plot.  But not even the whole of the politburo knew about that plot.  But the whole party and all members of affiliated organisations were blamed for involvement in that movement.
So as soon as the movement began it wasn’t very well planned and it was effectively crushed within one day and the man who moved and crushed that movement was Suharto - then Major General Suharto.  So he led the movement to crush that 30 September movement and declared himself a sort of national hero.  Almost immediately there were calls for the banning of the Indonesian Communist Party.  Within days they had already had people on the streets protesting against the party and that escalated to further violence against the party. 

JENNIFER COOK
This is Up Close and we’re coming to you from the University of Melbourne.  Today we’re talking with Dr Kate McGregor about Indonesia and the momentous events around September 30 1965 and how only now Indonesians are freely speaking about them.
Kate I think we need to put this within the context of the world community of that time.  Can you explain to us a bit about this anti-communist feeling?

KATE MCGREGOR
First of all just winding back again. As I mentioned before President Sukarno, the first President of Indonesia was increasingly seen as a threat perhaps to Western interests.  He had overseen the Bandung Conference of 1955 which was a major sort of conference of Asian, African powers to declare that they wanted their own voice in the world.  As newly independent countries they wanted to claim their place on the world stage.
Increasingly from that point - although Indonesia was always technically neutral in its foreign policy - Sukarno became increasingly radicalized.  As I said to you also opposed the formation of Malaysia which was the campaign in which he came directly into confrontation then with British and Australian forces and also Malaysia.  So that sort of demonstration of his willingness to also oppose things outside of Indonesia perhaps alarmed the outside world. 
He also withdrew Indonesia from the United Nations.  In 1965 he told the West to go to hell with its aid.  So he was increasingly seen as a radical problem president.  He was presiding over a very large country which also had important sea lanes, important resources, which the Western world wanted to have access to.  So from the point of view of the Western world they were concerned about Sukarno and they wanted him gone.  There were even allegations that in the 60s there had been attempts on his life which had had Western support as well.

JENNIFER COOK
The ramifications of this Indonesian situation in terms of the context of the cold war.

KATE MCGREGOR
Yes.  As I said before the Western world was supportive of members of the Indonesian army who were seen as anti-communists, there were already anti-communist forces in the country.  So they were trying to form alliances with groups like that in society - even from the 50s and the 60s with their wariness towards the communist party.  Of course located in the region of South East Asia there were also fears about Vietnam already showing strong signs of Ho Chi Minh leading the country as communist.  So there were concerns this whole region would fall to communism if Indonesia - such a large country - was also increasingly leaning towards the left.

JENNIFER COOK
So let’s come back to September 30 and the consequences of this.  Let’s first of all, if we can, look at the consequence for Sukarno himself.  Now he refused to come out and condemn the communist party didn’t he?

KATE MCGREGOR
Yes that’s right.  So Sukarno immediately after the movement tried to downplay the significance of the 30 September movement.  He called it a ripple in the ocean of the revolution. He had been trying to implement he said the next stage of the revolution.  He felt this was just a ripple.  It should be ignored.  The Indonesian Communist Party should not be condemned for this.  Of course he had great confidence in the communist party and saw it as an important part of his system of guided democracy.  He didn’t want to see it go because he also knew the army would be the obvious force coming to the fore. 
So he was concerned and he wouldn’t stand against the September 30 movement and increasingly he was placed under more and more pressure to condemn that movement.  Over a period of about a year-and-a-half he was gradually sidelined from his presidency as the army moved to take more and more power away from him.  But he was incredibly popular and had incredible appeal, even amongst members of the military - so particularly the air force and also the marines.  So it was quite difficult for the military to move very quickly against Sukarno because he had enormous appeal also amongst the people.  So you couldn’t really depose such a president very quickly.

JENNIFER COOK
So what did they do?

KATE MCGREGOR
Well increasingly within the army, there was an effort to move against Sukarno.  So initially Sukarno - also because the army leadership had been killed - had to try and agree on a new leader for the army.  He preferred another candidate but Suharto managed to get enough support to be the key candidate because Sukarno wasn’t very trusting of him already.  So Suharto already won that victory. 
Then over time the military had already moved very quickly against the Indonesian Communist Party and it seemed to be out of Sukarno’s control in different areas of Indonesia already out in the countryside before Sukarno could do much.  There was already an escalation to a point of violence.  So he increasingly spoke out when he heard news about killings.  For example he spoke out and said please stop the propaganda against the Indonesian Communist Party. Because I haven’t explained yet that after the 30 September there were a lot of accusations against the Indonesian Communist Party as to the brutality of the deaths of the army generals. 
So there were stories that their eyes had been gouged out - that naked women had danced around crocodile hole and debauchedly cut off the testicles of the generals.  So there were really inflamed stories about the barbarity of the communist party and the way they had killed the generals and then that their bodies had been stuffed down a well and left there.
So some of that propaganda was also particularly offensive to religious beliefs about the way bodies should be buried and also about mutilation of bodies after death.  So it really inflamed people’s hatred of the party because they began to believe maybe they had done these things - particularly for the army, for soldiers who respected their great sort of military leaders.  There was also a sense of hatred towards the party for what they’d done to their great leaders. 
So Sukarno was making a call to say please stop this escalation of propaganda.  He was calling for people to calm down and also to not engage in violence against the Indonesian Communist Party.  So he was trying to deescalate the situation.  But at the same time the military were in control of all newspapers.  They were hyping up the situation to try and get people to move against the communist party.

JENNIFER COOK
So the ramifications of this were devastating for the Indonesian people weren’t they?

KATE MCGREGOR
Yes that’s right.  First of all in terms of the scale of the violence.  We believe that half a million people were killed.  Most of those people were killed in the period from October 1965 through to March - although the killings continued until the late 60s in some areas of Indonesia.  In addition to that hundreds of thousands of people were imprisoned for long periods without trial.  So the ramifications of it in terms of scale were enormous, but also in terms of the stories of individuals who were affected by the violence - they were enormous.
The violence incorporated not only murder and imprisonment but also destruction of property, also rape of women and once people were imprisoned also forced labour.

JENNIFER COOK
Kate, can you give us some examples of what people went through?

KATE MCGREGOR
Yes.  For example a lot of the stories that I’ve heard in my interviews have been through individuals who of course survived the violence.  So that’s the stories of people who were political prisoners.  Now most of those people went about their daily lives after 30 September.  There wasn’t a sense that people immediately knew what the ramifications of this event would be.  When most people talk to you about their stories they begin with that day because it changed their lives forever.  It’s a momentous time for them and their stories sort of start from that point.
For example a friend of mine who was teaching in a high school went to work again for a couple of days before he realised that because he was a member of an artist organisation that was affiliated with the communist party that he would be a person of interest.  So within a few days also people began to be fearful if they had any connection to the communist party - what would happen to them. 
Also women that I knew who were involved with Gerwani, the Indonesian Woman’s Organisation which was affiliated with the communist party had to stop going to the headquarters of that party because there were immediate attacks on the headquarters. 
Increasingly people felt that they had to go in hiding.  So first of all they may not go to their place of work or their office.  Then they might retreat to their homes, but within days some people also felt that they had to be on the move, fleeing to the houses of relatives or other people to be keeping moving so that they would not be discovered.  Some people actually took up living on the street to avoid identification, or moving perhaps to cities such as Surabaya in East Java from the countryside so they wouldn’t be so identifiable. 
So for a lot of people that was the commencement of their life on the run before they were perhaps taken in for questioning.  In the questions they were always asked “where were you on the night of the 30 September?”  Of course most people were not there in Jakarta.  People were being asking that question in all corners of Indonesia.  But of course they weren’t in Jakarta but they were still asked the question and accused of involvement in the movement. 
Of course in the countryside there was a lot more violence than in the cities.  People tended to be more arrested in the cities.  In the countryside they were often arrested, maybe detained for some point of time and then perhaps picked up also by killing squads who would take them out of the jail and then take them out to rural areas and kill them.  So the military was involved in that violence but also civilian vigilantes, particularly religious vigilantes such as that associated with the largest Islamic organisation in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama.

JENNIFER COOK
I’ve read some of these eyewitness accounts and they’re nothing short of harrowing.  One that does stay with me is a woman who was taken to a prison camp and her husband had already been taken and I think he was killed.  Her brother-in-law was brought and killed in front of her as she was questioned again and again where is your husband - who did didn’t know where he was.  She was also tortured.  Her story is not unusual.

KATE MCGREGOR
That’s right.  Yes a lot of people were tortured also during the process of this interrogation about where were they and were they responsible, what involvement did they have in the 30 September movement.  Particularly women because of the propaganda surrounding what women did at the crocodile hole in Jakarta and the allegations that women had been debauched and immoral.  Then women were also subject to particularly maybe sexualised forms of violence, because of that construction that communist women were very immoral.  So that meant that they were also subject to particular kinds of violence such as raped before they were killed as well. 

JENNIFER COOK
Well this woman was raped with a broken bottle. 

KATE MCGREGOR
Yes.

JENNIFER COOK
She talks about this attitude of the people, the men who were imprisoning her, as they were considered to being associated with the communist party that they were loose women.

KATE MCGREGOR
Yes.

JENNIFER COOK
If you survive this how do you come out of this?  How do you enter back into society and worse still how do you keep quiet about it?

KATE MCGREGOR
Yeah that’s very difficult.  A lot of women who were associated with Gerwani also became long term political prisoners. I think particularly for them, maybe as opposed to even male members of the communist party, that it was very difficult to reveal that they were associated with that organisation.  Because it wasn’t only that the propaganda was circulated in the newspapers at the time.  It also was repeatedly fed to generations of Indonesians.  So in school text books they were told about Gerwani being whores. 
Of all those women, the women for example who have come out and told their stories now, it is very difficult for them to counter those allegations about their immorality.  They always want to do it and they try to do it by actually talking about the ideals for which their organisation stood - which was to support the foundation of kindergartens, places of care for children so women could work. They were quite progressive but they weren’t really a radical organisation.  But they tried to talk about the things they did to reinstate their image.  But a lot of women would have difficulty revealing they were part of that organisation.  It’s probably the strong ones who do.

JENNIFER COOK
Now with this freedom of the press and people telling their stories - this is a nation coming to terms with its history.

KATE MCGREGOR
Yes.  So before I talked about the fact that school text books could only talk about the official version of the 1965 30 September movement, they rarely mentioned the scale of violence that occurred against the Indonesian Communist Party.  Instead the emphasis was on the deaths of the generals and how tragic that was.  So it was largely a foot note on those text books - the violence that occurred against the communist party. 
With the fall of Suharto, the end of the regime in 1998 the controls on press were lifted.  So newspapers before that could rarely mention a different version of that history either.  It meant that all of a sudden on the anniversary for example of the 30 September movement then we saw a lot of dynamism in the press about first of all what happened on 30 September - people could openly discuss that.  The conspiracy theories which were quite rife in Indonesia came out that it was Sukarno’s idea or Suharto’s idea - whichever plot you wanted to follow.  So people began to explore those theories more openly and even questioned the role of the military which you couldn’t do before.
Then the stories turned to well what actually happened after that - the violence that affected so many people.  Eventually those stories also began to be published in the press.  At the same time former political prisoners, who of course are the survivors of that period had already began to organise in organisations.  Obviously it was the strongest people who did that.  A lot of people may prefer to leave the past alone.
But they did form survivor organisations in different towns of Indonesia.  Two of the most prominent people who did that were Pramoedya Anata Toer, Indonesia’s most famous novelist and Ibu Sulami, Mrs Sulami who was associated with Gerwani.  So they joined together also with an exile in Paris, Hassan Raid to form an organisation for survivors.  Their main aims were to try and uncover information about what had happened in 1965.  Also to locate mass graves throughout Indonesia and to begin doing research about that past and to hold people accountable for it.
A lot of the people - the brave people amongst many people who were former political prisoners who have written their memoirs have written them often for the young generation.  They don’t see that much hope for the older generation but they do write their memoirs largely to tell the story to a younger audience who are perhaps not yet as contaminated by the propaganda against them. 
Some different organisations have also tried to get former political prisoners to come and speak to children in a classroom or in universities.  So through those audiences I think that at least they feel - people actually want to know our story.  At least some people do.  There are people who object to us but some people do want to know our stories.  For these people - and a lot of them are now dying in the recent years - a number of people I have interviewed have now died.  They are reaching an old age and they have also suffered a lot from long periods of imprisonment.  For some of them having their story told is at least one small step I guess.

JENNIFER COOK
I’m Jennifer Cook and my guest today on Up Close if Dr Kate McGregor.  We’re talking about Indonesia and the events around September 30 1965 and how only now Indonesians are freely speaking about them. 
Now Kate I also just want to talk about this continuing stigma.  If you had been in prison and then got out you weren’t able to hold a whole range of jobs.  You were considered unclean, but not only were you considered unclean but your children and your children’s children. 

KATE MCGREGOR
That’s the idea of a clean environment that the New Order regime also implemented throughout the New Order period.  That meant that individuals and their family members also suffered for many years.  They didn’t have access to good jobs so it meant that somebody like a wonderful painter, Djoko Pekik who is a famous painter now in post-Suharto Indonesia had to make rice rentals on the side of the road after he got out of jail because he couldn’t work.  Officially nobody would buy his art perhaps because it was considered dangerous perhaps.  So a lot of very talented people ended up having to do casual jobs, you know, that were not formal jobs. And their families also suffered.  It meant that they didn’t have enough money to send their children to have good education, the ramifications were ongoing.
Some people might say oh it didn’t have that much effect on Indonesia but some people in Indonesia will say that we can’t actually move forward until we do deal with this past.  That’s what some people will say.  But even some survivors of the violence say it’s better not to look back.  There are different views about how this should be dealt with.  But certainly there’s been a move in Indonesia to have formal means of reconciliation like a proposed truth and reconciliation commission.  There has been an effort to look at it that way.  But at the same time there’s been opposition to those kinds of things.

JENNIFER COOK
Yes.  Because there’s facing the past and telling your story - is it simply a cathartic act or does it touch on issues of compensation?

KATE MCGREGOR
Yeah it certainly does and people who have been involved in that victims’ organisation have asked and brought up the issue of compensation.  People I guess were deprived of their livelihoods, but also sometimes their houses were confiscated and taken by military men who lived in the houses thereafter.  Or perhaps their lands were taken while they were in jail and they weren’t ever able to recover them.  People feel that sense of loss, a material loss, but also the loss for all those years of life that they were in prison.  There are calls for some kind of compensation.  But I’m a bit pessimistic as to whether that would ever actually be achieved. 
There may be perhaps one day a formal apology.  That one president did make a personal apology - Abdurrahman Wahid - who was the former leader of the largest Islamic organisation in Indonesia - Nahdlatul Ulama.  He made an apology in the year 2000 when he was president, but it was a personal apology.  But that caused a lot of backlash amongst Muslim constituencies who felt that the killing and the violence was actually justified because they were threatened by the attack on religion. 
There’s still, many years later, a divide of opinions about whether this violence was justified.  This is something a little bit more unique about Indonesia that people still continue to defend the violence and think it was the right thing to do in now 40 years after it.

JENNIFER COOK
Just how deep can these changes go in the society and in the government when we have the connections to the military and those who supported Suharto’s regime - they’re still so strong aren’t they?

KATE MCGREGOR
That’s correct.  For example the current president who’s been in place since 2004 - Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - he was a military man, of course retired now, but very much involved with the military.  The military of course is an institution that emphasises loyalty and also particular traditions.  The cadets are trained in a particular way.  His generation of cadets would have been very much trained to think about communism as a bad thing.  They would have been told about the heroism of the generations before who fought against the communist.  His father-in-law who is already deceased now - Sarwo Edhie - actually lead the killing campaigns into central Java in the 1960s.  So he has a very direct link to this violence.  It would be difficult to see what interests would be served by him to agreeing to investigate or prosecute people with regards to this past. 

JENNIFER COOK
Kate I’d just like to ask you what has it been like for you speaking to these people and bearing witness to what they’ve been through?

KATE MCGREGOR
I’m most interested in the questions about reconciliation and about how societies deal with the past.  I guess I’m more asking them questions along those lines about what they hope for the future and how they want this past dealt with.  But in some cases people feel that you must want to hear the [horriblest] part of their past because perhaps it gives them some legitimacy and that’s a sort of sad reflection I guess perhaps on how people have to present an issue - also to get listened to.

JENNIFER COOK
Still on this note of telling stories, with this free press where everyone is now free to say what they like that write what they like - is there a sense now that this unshackled press could not only be a healing thing but also a harbinger of division - you know sort of stirring up trouble in a deeply complicated society.  What do you think of that?

KATE MCGREGOR
One of the things that we need to recognised is at the same time Indonesia is democratised over the last 10 or plus years that the press has become more free but also in society there is a greater emphasis on human rights as part of the democratisation process.  I think people are being socialised more and more to recognise issues that have human rights implications, although there are still a lot of issues in Indonesia with regard to that.  But it means that perhaps new discourses about human rights are becoming more popular in the press.  So these issues might be listened to. 
I think an interesting factor is also that Indonesia of course is connected to the outside world.  They know other countries have been through democratisation processes so there might be an expectation that they would deal with past episodes of violence that have been so long repressed as well.  So that’s probably coming out as well.
But in terms of the press fragmenting, if you read more conservative presses, for example from the Islamic Commissionaire Council, a very conservative Islamic publication, then they continue to sort of replicate the propaganda about the communist party in the past and beware of communist infiltration of the parliament. 
It’s very interesting, one of the candidates for the party PDIP - which is Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.  One of the candidates come out and wrote a book I’m proud to be the child of a PKI, of an Indonesian Communist Party member - and this created a bit of controversy.  She was trained as a doctor but actually wanted to come out as a political person and say I am connected with the Indonesian Communist Party.  So this caused a big controversy for example in some Islamic presses to say this is terrible what the communists did in the past.  So they just recycled a lot of the propaganda about what happened before. 
A lot of former political prisoners are making their own DVDs to record the suffering and stories on their side.  But at the same time some Islamic figures have also made propaganda-style DVDs in which they preach against the dangers of communism - we’re talking about recently.  It’s quite surprising for people who don’t see communism now in the world as a large threat.  So you have these two poles going on at the same time.

JENNIFER COOK
Kate, thank you so much for your time today.

KATE MCGREGOR
You’re welcome.

JENNIFER COOK
That was Dr Kate McGregor, Senior Lecturer in South East Asian History at the University of Melbourne.  Relevant links, a full transcript and more info on this episode can be found at our website at upclose.unimelb.edu.au.  Up Close is a production of the University of Melbourne Australia.  This episode was recorded on April 21 2011 and our producers were Eric van Bemmel and Kelvin Param.  Audio engineering by Russell Evans.  Up Close is created by Kelvin Param and Eric van Bemmel.  I’m Jennifer Cook.  Until next time goodbye.

VOICEOVER
You’ve been listening to Up Close.  For more information visit upclose.unimelb.edu.au.  Copyright 2011 The University of Melbourne.


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