3. Supervivere


Kuslan Budiman, Woerden


This documentary series is a part of the complete body of work about the Indonesian 1965 tragedy. Please see “(De/Re) Construction”here.

Mintardjo, Leiden
From Supervivere

The New Order has succeeded in brainwashing generations of Indonesians for decades long, even up until now after the forced resignation of Soeharto and his death. The brainwash included massive propaganda of anti communism through education and culture. Every evil thing was labeled as communist and the other way around, communism and communists tout courtwere evil. (One prominent example is the film “Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI” that contains lies about the event of September 30th1965). The success of this brainwash is still strongly alive until today, shown structurally by the prohibition of communism in Indonesia, next to the fact that people still think that the mass murder in 1965/6 was supposed to happen. The National Commission on Human Rights submitted a report requesting a legal research on the 1965/6 tragedy and mentioned it as a gross violation of human rights, but the Indonesian Attorney General rejected that request, stating there is no adequate fact that would justify any further research.

Tom Iljas, Stockholm
From Supervivere

For decades long different generations in Indonesia have to learn and believe the version of history and “truth” constructed by the New Order, a regime that allowed and justified violence and oppression to maintain its power. As the history has been written by this regime, giving the victims of this tragedy the chance to tell their stories would allow us to gain another perspective on this subject matter. Bringing out real stories about what happened are therefore of great importance, to contribute in reconstructing the history, in order to prevent such tragedy to reoccur in the future.

The documentary project “Supervivere” shows Indonesian exiles who due to their loyalty to Soekarno and their refusal to Soeharto, after the September 30 Movement, were announced stateless by the Indonesian government. They were the crème de la crèmeof the Indonesian young nation, selected young people who were sent to study abroad, to later go back and develop Indonesia. Instead, they got their Indonesian passport withdrawn and had no contact with their family and homeland for decades, living abroad without really knowing what happened and what would happen to them and their family in Indonesia.

Tom Iljas, Stockholm

Warsito, Stockholm

Ibrahim Isa, Amsterdam

Sarmadji Warjo, Amsterdam

PERDOI library, Amsterdam




Below are stills from the video interview.

In late 1965 and early 1966, one of the greatest mass killings of the twentieth century was carried out in Indonesia, the slaughter in a few weeks of hundreds of thousands of real or alleged Communists. The massacres set the stage for Suharto’s thirty-two-year dictatorship. (New Left Review, May-June 2000)

As an Indonesian born during the glorious era of the New Order, what did I know about the 1965/6 tragedy? I was taught that the communists were atheists –and therefore evil, that Gerwani members picked out the eyes of the generals and cut off their penis. All terrifying thoughts and images, especially as shown in the film “Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI” by the director Arifin C. Noer launched in 1984, which every student had to watch as the main source of knowledge about this subject. Every disagreed thought or person could be labeled as communist, and we had the right to not only mock them but also to do wrong things to them.

As a kid I already questioned those so called facts, especially that at the other side there was our president, Soeharto, who was the biggest hero of the nation, who called himself “Bapak Pembangunan” (Father of Development). There was something not quite right, I thought. The extreme black and white, evil and good image, did not meet the reality since Soeharto was famous for KKN (corruption, collusion, nepotism). The propaganda film was terribly acted, which fed my doubts even more.

But it was only when I visited Indonesian friends in The Netherlands that I really started to see things from more points of view. I was introduced to Indonesian exiles, who then introduced me to other exiles in Germany, France and Sweden. After years of studying and making works of art in Belgium in search of “home”, I felt it was the time to create a work concerning this subject matter, which is a great case of human rights violation in my own home country. The decision of Indonesian Attorney General to reject the report submitted by the National Commission on Human Rights, that mentioned the 1965 tragedy as a gross human rights violation, only made it more important to continue working on this. Beside that, the direct victims of this tragedy (the exiles and ex-political prisoners) are old, most have passed away already, so any effort to document their history should not be postponed.