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Lecture | Book launch and discussion

The End of Silence: Accounts of the 1965 Genocide in Indonesia

Wednesday 27 March 2019
Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

Book launch & discussion

Soe Tjen Marching is a Senior Lecturer at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London. 

Marching's new book is about the experiences of the survivors of the Indonesian 1965- 1966 genocide and enforced disappearances conducted by the Indonesian military at the time. These stories underline the devastating long-term impact of these violations on Indonesian society in general and particularly the victims themselves, their siblings, children and grandchildren. The title of the book reveals how stories regarding the brutality and stigmatization that they experienced which have remained mostly hidden in their life histories have finally been unlocked. These silences or the refusal to bring up these stories were primarily because of the comprehensive propaganda campaigns and strategies of silencing undertaken under Suharto’s dictatorship. Propaganda and censorship by the Suharto regime created a historical myth regarding who was the enemy of the nation, and how those having any connection with what was considered as communism should be eradicated from society. This affected not only those who were detained (who were at that time journalists, trade union members, or teachers) but also their children and grandchildren who also experienced processes of stigmatization and exclusion, and for some, witnessed the detention or murder of their (grand) parents. Their stories are about their personal struggles to obtain information on what happened to their parents or grandparents, and to deal with social discrimination as well as the silence from their own family members. 

From the nineteen testimonies portrayed in this book, which also included the author herself (whose father was taken away by Suharto's troops)  we hear also the stories of women's testimonies and how their experiences were highly gender - specific. These testimonies are about the strength of these men and women who have managed to survive and create their own lives amidst the social and psychological stumbling blocks they faced.

Discussant: Grace Leksana

Leksana is currently working on a PhD project of post-New Order memories in Indonesia – a joint project between KITLV, Leiden University and NIOD. Her research focuses on the construction of Indonesia’s collective memory and the changes that occur along with regime shift. The research also aims to place the local villagers as agents of memory and scrutinize further local mechanisms that persist, modify, or even confront, the memory construction. This four-year research project is conducted in two villages in Malang District, East Java.

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