Retas Sejarah

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Indeks / "Partai Komunis Indonesia"

After a three-year investigation and testimonies from 349 witnesses, Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has declared that the systematic prosecution of alleged members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) when former president Suharto and the military seized power in 1965 constituted gross human rights violations. It urged that the military officers involved be brought to trial.

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Who knows what the army did with them there – what was clear was that the trucks went off fully loaded and came back empty (Pipit Rochijat, “Am I PKI or Non-PKI”, 1985).

In his wonderful, now classic essay “The Death of Luigi Trastulli,” Alessandro Portelli compares newspaper accounts of the police firing upon a crowd of street demonstrators in a small town in Italy in 1949 with the social memory of that killing. He finds the memories of the town’s working class community, which has eulogized the victim of that shooting in songs and stories, to be in error. Instead of using oral history to figure out “what really happened,” Portelli uses it to think about why people have misremembered the past. Portelli’s later book, The Order Has Been Carried Out, follows a similar procedure. It relies on written records to establish the facticity of an event: German troops occupying Rome in 1944 massacred 355 people as a collective punishment for an attack by the resistance that claimed 32 soldiers.

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It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of civilians were tortured by members of the security forces in Indonesia throughout the New Order regime (1965-1998). This authoritarian, militarist regime seized power following an attempted coup in Jakarta on 1 October 1965. In the aftermath of that coup, elements of the Indonesian military took the opportunity to eradicate their main political rivals, the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia, or PKI) and all those associated with it. Between October 1965 and March 1966, it is estimated that half a million PKI members and associates were murdered, while a further million were rounded up and held in political detention. Of those detained, hundreds of thousands are estimated to have been interrogated and tortured between 1965 and 1970.

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