Human tragedies and genocides
There have been great human losses in many wars and mega-political sceneries in our time. Some examples: The Indonesian genocide by the Suharto-regime with the help of CIA in 1965-66: around 2 million killed. Vietnam war 1963-75: around 2,5 million. Pol Pot- regime in Cambodia 1975-78: around 1 million. The Rwanda genocide 1994: around 1 million. The two Iraq wars 1991 and 2003—10?: between 500 000 and 1 million. The trade embargo on Iraq 1993-2003: maybe as much as 1 million (died indirectly of shortages of food and medicine, many of them children). The interventions in Afghanistan (the war began in 2001 and not yet finished) and Libya (2011), also has to be mentioned all though the casualties are much less than the other examples. Mega-political sceneries (also with UN as actor in some cases, or put on the sideline by the US) made it possible to do such brutal imperialistic acts by the West. We humans tend to forget easily these atrocities which suites the power nicely. This alienates our memory and our role as objectors to capitalistic imperialism. Let us then try to pay tribute to those millions who have died in the hands of power and greed. They, the millions of our brothers and sisters, do NOT deserve to be forgotten. In this case let us take up the insane story of the Indonesian genocide and a film on it.
Suharto, CIA and the brutal history
When I try to write something on Indonesia and the 32 years (1966-1998) the now dead dictator Suharto (died in 2008 without any convictions for his crimes) was in power, there are many words that struck the mind: coup d’etá in 1965 (with US and CIA help), butchering around 2 million people (all was supposedly communist sympathizers), “red rivers” (f. ex. Javanese people remembers rivers red with blood, some of whom I myself have heard it from on Java), the invasion of East-Timor in 1975 (when Suharto again got help and acceptance from US and CIA), killings, torture, disappearance, more killings, torture, disappearance, and corruption. WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE WORLD WHO FORGETS THESE WORDS?
Of course some political and human rights organizations tries to dig up facts on this I am writing about, which I will call “ the Suharto-period with the West’s blessing”. So this period is not totally gone in history, but what should be said when concepts like “controversial” are been used when western leaders feel themselves forced to say something about this period in modern Indonesian history? When such vague words are been used on a bloody dictator like this and he is been applauded for the economic policy, IT IS NOT without reason. Suharto was the West’s man in right time and place! But this fascist dictator and regime WILL NOT be forgotten by most Indonesians! I have many proofs of that after my journeys in the archipelago. That is why it is profoundly arrogant of the current president when he announced seven days of mourning when the “butcher” died in 2008. This shows too that still many in a scary way pays homage to the dictator and murderers behind the genocide.
Indonesia’s worst killers on «tape», performing their own genocide on film
«The Act of Killing», produced by USA-borne Joshua Oppenheimer and co-produced by the Norwegian Piraya Film, has unanimously been celebrated by international critics as one of the most important films after it was shown on the Toronto film festival in September 2012. With this very special documentary Oppenheimer and Piraya Film manage to get the mass murderers from 1965-66 to voluntarily step forward and proudly telling the world about their worst misdeeds from the past. By doing this the film shows that many of the perpetrators and parts of society still celebrates this horrific period of Indonesian history. The country has up till now never had any national accountability on the genocide. Quite the contrary and Oppenheimer goes as far to describe it as a state built up on a mountain of corpses. Nearly 50 years after the mass killings of communist and sympathizers it is the hope that the world and specially people in Indonesia gets their “eyes wide open” and not closed anymore. Already this film has made it into Indonesian cinemas and sparked some debate in newspaper and among people. But it is a long way to go.
Oppenheimer started this project ten years ago, after he had made a film about victims and their relatives after the genocide. He began by visiting the neighborhood of known killers, and was pretty fast invited into their macabre reality. -I was very surprised over how easy the killers talked about their misdeeds. Almost all was proud. They vaunted openly of killings, rape and torture. They were eager to show what kind of killing technics they used, f. ex. to avoid too much blood spill. They talked about this in the most extreme and detailed manners, and gladly with minor grandchildren on the lap, tells Oppenheimer in an interview. Anwar Kongo, one of the most feared members of the 1960-ies death squads, is the film’s central character. He was killer number 41 which Oppenheimer met under his long stay in Indonesia. In an early scene in the film Kongo takes the producer up on a roof where he killed countless people, and he demonstrates how the assassinations happen. Suddenly he starts to dance a happy cha-cha-dance. -For me this was an unreal moment, Oppenheimer later said. Kongo also tells in the movie that he was inspired from Hollywood-films about gangsters, and that he often learned killing methods from these films. To cope with the impressions from mass killings he drank alcohol, smoked and used ecstasy.
The reactions to this movie are strong in Indonesia, but still the victims are reluctant to come forward with their stories, because the risk of persecution and reprisals. Further, it is even longer before a national process of justice will try these perpetrators still alive before the law, and put them behind bars once and for all! This “story” is all too familiar to the world, but this Oscar-nominated movie might do a difference?