Indonesia Marks 50th Anniversary Of Deadly Coup

Democracy, Justice Denied Across Indonesia

By Joshua Oppenheimer, New York Times Contributor

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of a mass slaughter in Indonesia. With American support, more than 500,000 people were murdered by the Indonesian Army and its civilian death squads. At least 750,000 more were tortured and sent to concentration camps, many for decades.

The victims were accused of being “communists,” an umbrella that included not only members of the legally registered Communist Party, but all likely opponents of Suharto’s new military regime — from union members and women’s rights activists to teachers and the ethnic Chinese. Unlike in Germany, Rwanda or Cambodia, there have been no trials, no truth-and-reconciliation commissions, no memorials to the victims. Instead, many perpetrators still hold power throughout the country.

Merdeka Square Monas National Monument Jakarta

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, and if it is to become the democracy it claims to be, this impunity must end. The anniversary is a moment for the United States to support Indonesia’s democratic transition by acknowledging the 1965 genocide, and encouraging a process of truth, reconciliation and justice.

On Oct. 1, 1965, six army generals in Jakarta were killed by a group of disaffected junior officers. Maj. Gen. Suharto assumed command of the armed forces, blamed the killings on the leftists, and set in motion a killing machine. Millions of people associated with left-leaning organizations were targeted, and the nation dissolved into terror — people even stopped eating fish for fear that fish were eating corpses. Suharto usurped President Sukarno’s authority and established himself as de facto president by March 1966. From the very beginning, he enjoyed the full support of the United States.

I’ve spent 12 years investigating the terrible legacy of the genocide, creating two documentary films, “The Act of Killing” in 2013 and “The Look of Silence,” released earlier this year. I began in 2003, working with a family of survivors. We wanted to show what it is like to live surrounded by still-powerful perpetrators who had murdered your loved ones.

Look Of Silence Indonesia

The family gathered other survivors to tell their stories, but the army warned them not to participate. Many survivors urged me not to give up and suggested that I film perpetrators in hopes that they would reveal details of the massacres.

I did not know if it was safe to approach the killers, but when I did, I found them open. They offered boastful accounts of the killings, often with smiles on their faces and in front of their grandchildren. I felt I had wandered into Germany 40 years after the Holocaust, only to find the Nazis still in power.

Today, former political prisoners from this era still face discrimination and threats. Gatherings of elderly survivors are regularly attacked by military-backed thugs. Schoolchildren are still taught that the “extermination of the communists” was heroic, and that victims’ families should be monitored for disloyalty. This official history, in effect, legitimizes violence against a whole segment of society.

The purpose of such intimidation is to create a climate of fear in which corruption and plunder go unchallenged. Inevitably in such an atmosphere, human rights violations have continued since 1965, including the 1975-1999 occupation of East Timor, where enforced starvation contributed to the killing of nearly a third of the population, as well as torture and extrajudicial killing that go on in West Papua today.

Military rule in Indonesia formally ended in 1998, but the army remains above the law. If a general orders an entire village massacred, he cannot be tried in civilian courts. The only way he could face justice is if the army itself convenes a military tribunal, or if Parliament establishes a special human rights court — something it has never done fairly and effectively.

With the military not subject to law, a shadow state of paramilitaries and intelligence agencies has formed around it. This shadow state continues to intimidate the public into silence while, together with its business partners, it loots the national wealth.

Indonesia can hold regular elections, but if the laws do not apply to the most powerful elements in society, then there is no rule of law, and no genuine democracy. The country will never become a true democracy until it takes serious steps to end impunity. An essential start is a process of truth, reconciliation and justice.

This may still be possible. The Indonesian media, which used to shy from discussing the genocide, now refers to the killings as crimes against humanity, and grassroots activism has taken hold.

Joko Widodo

The current president, Joko Widodo, indicated he would address the 1965 massacre, but he has not established a truth commission, issued a national apology, or taken any other steps to end the military’s impunity.

We need truth and accountability from the United States as well. U.S. involvement dates at least to an April 1962 meeting between American and British officials resulting in the decision to “liquidate” President Sukarno, the populist — but not communist — founding father of Indonesia. As a founder of the nonaligned movement, Sukarno favored socialist policies; Washington wanted to replace him with someone more deferential to Western strategic and commercial interests.

The United States conducted covert operations to destabilize Sukarno and strengthen the military. Then, when genocide broke out, America provided equipment, weapons and money. The United States compiled lists containing thousands of names of public figures likely to oppose the new military regime, and handed them over to the Indonesian military, presumably with the expectation that they would be killed. Western aid to Suharto’s dictatorship, ultimately amounting to tens of billions of dollars, began flowing while corpses still clogged Indonesia’s rivers. The American media celebrated Suharto’s rise and his campaign of death. Time magazine said it was the “best news for years in Asia.”

But the extent of America’s role remains hidden behind a wall of secrecy: C.I.A. documents and U.S. defense attaché papers remain classified. Numerous Freedom of Information Act requests for these documents have been denied. Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, will soon reintroduce a resolution that, if passed, would acknowledge America’s role in the atrocities, call for declassification of all relevant documents, and urge the Indonesian government to acknowledge the massacres and establish a truth commission. If the U.S. government recognizes the genocide publicly, acknowledges its role in the crimes, and releases all documents pertaining to the issue, it will encourage the Indonesian government to do the same.

This anniversary should be a reminder that although we want to move on, although nothing will wake the dead or make whole what has been broken, we must stop, honor the lives destroyed, acknowledge our role in the destruction, and allow the healing process to begin.

Indonesia History via http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/30/opinion/suhartos-purge-indonesias-silence.html?_r=0

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Indonesia’s Museum’s, Monuments Loaded With History

Museums, Monuments Found Across Indonesia

Indonesia’s monuments and museums are found throughout the country. They represent the whole spectrum of Indonesian life, thought and history. The best-known and also the oldest in existence of the museums of art, culture and history is the Central Museum in Jakarta.

Museums of natural history are found in Bogor and Bandung. Of equal scientific interest, though small in size, is the Sangiran museum of paleontology and anthropology near Solo (Surakarta).

Sangiran Museum

Sangiran Museum
A small museum in this village, 15 kilometers from Solo, displays prehistoric fossils found in the region. This area is found along the Solo River. It has an outcropping of the earth’s prehistoric surface, which has yielded many major anthropologic finds. Among them were the remains of Solo Man, one of the earliest human fossils known. The fossilized remains of Java Man were found not far away in 1881 by the Dutchman Dr. Eugene Dubois near the village of Trinil, East Java.

Indonesia mask

Central Museum
Jakarta’s Central Museum is one of the finest in Southeast Asia. Founded in 1788, it still has the world’s most complete collection of Indonesian artifacts. Its Hindu-Javanese collection is one of the finest in the world. It has one the richest collections of Han, Tang and Ming porcelain, and an array of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese export ceramics. Its monetary collection includes rare specimens of cloth-money used in the past in various areas of Indonesia. The National Library is adjacent to the museum. It features more than 700,000 old and recent volumes of books, manuscripts and periodicals covering virtually every subject on Indonesia.

Jakarta History Museum fatahillah square

Jakarta History Museum, Fatahillah Square
This open-air museum in Jakarta has three main structures. The first is the Jakarta Museum, which exhibits the colonial history of the city, but also includes relics from the pre-colonial past. The building on the east, formerly the Supreme Court, houses the Fine Arts Gallery and the Ceramics Museum, which contains an excellent Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics collection. On the western side of the square is the Wayang Museum, filled with puppets used in the indigenous puppet theater. The largest part of the collection consists of wayang kulit, the popular flat leather puppets from various regions. Demonstrations of the shadow play are given every Sunday morning.

Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum is at the northern end of Jakarta. It has exhibits displayed inside the historic Dutch East India Company warehouses. In small-scale models and pictures, the museum attempts to give the visitor an idea of Indonesia’s seafaring tradition and the importance of the sea to the economy of present-day Indonesia. The museum features models of fishing boats from most parts of Indonesia, including the legendary pinisi schooners of the Bugis people of South Sulawesi.

Merdeka Square Monas National Monument Jakarta

National Monument
The 137-meter tall monument, also known as Monas, symbolizes Indoesia’s independence with a gold-leaf flame at the top. It faces the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. The basement of the monument houses a Museum of History with dioramas about Indonesia’s history—from prehistoric times through the present. A good portion of the display is devoted to the national war for independence, which raged from 1945 through 1949. You can hear the voice of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, in the Hall of Silence at the foot of the National Monument. The monument is located at Merdeka Square (freedom square).

Armed Forces Museum
The Satria Mandala Museum, or Armed Forces Museum, is located in the southern part of Jakarta. It features an interesting collection of arms, including Japanese fighter planes from World War II, Russian and American guns, and armored cars.

The Textile Museum
The Textile Museum in Jakarta has about 600 different kinds of traditional Indonesian textiles, from batik to ikat and Dayak bark cloths. In many regions, such textiles are still used to pay fines, avert illness, and mark other social and religious purposes. Some of the oldest Indonesian ornamental designs are found in their original textiles.

Museum Indonesia
The Museum Indonesia, a three-story structure in traditional Balinese architecture, is located inside the Taman Mini Park. The museum has a vast collection of contemporary Indonesian arts and crafts, traditional costumes from the various regions, puppets, musical instruments, masks, and a large variety of utensils and equipment used in daily life across the islands. Mannequins and replicas display the various rituals concerned with the passage of life.

Museum Sono Budoyo
Founded in 1935, this museum faces the Kraton (Sultan’s palace) in Yogyakarta. It is built in traditional Javanese architecture. Its collection includes weapons, leather and wooden wayang puppets, masks, statues, textiles, curios, and old Javanese gamelan instruments. A library also is attached.

Museum Radjapustoko
The Radjapustoko Museum is located next to the Sriwedari amusement park in Solo. It features an interesting collection of art objects and mementoes from Java’s past.

Zoological Museum
The Zoological Museum in Bogor has a vast collection of preserved Indonesian animal species, from birds and reptiles to mammals and conchs displayed in life-like dioramas. The museum includes a library about the Indonesian animal world as well.

Geological Museum
The fossilized skull of legendary Java Man is featured at the Geological Museum in Bandung. The museum was founded in 1929 and includes collections of fossils, rocks, minerals, volcano models, maps, and more.

Other Monuments and Museums

Museums of local culture and history are found in many provincial capitals and towns across Indonesia, including the Bukittinggi Museum in West Sumatra, the Makkasar Museum in the former Fort Rotterdam in Ujung Pandang (Makassar), South Sulawesi, and the Simalungun Museum at Pematang Siantar, in North Sumatra.

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Indonesia’s Archaeology Still Unfolding

Hidden Gems Across Indonesia

Many of the world’s most important archaeological sites have been found in Indonesia. Java man, Flores (Hobbit) man, Borobudur, Prambanan and many other discoveries have drawn explorers from near and far. Much more ancient history is unfolding across Indonesia today.

gunung padang

Gunung (mountain) Padang is a megalithic site located in Karyamukti village in the West Java Province. It’s about 50 km southwest of the city of Cianjur. Some are calling it the largest megalithic site in all of Southeast Asia.

The massive Indonesian site was put on the international map in the publication Rapporten van de Oudheidkundige Dienst (Report of the Department of Antiquities) in 1914. Dutch historian N. J. Krom also mentioned it in 1949. Employees of the National Archeology Research Centre studied the site in 1979.

gunung padang Indonesiapadang pyramid

The site in West Java covers a hill in a series of terraces bordered by retaining walls of stone that are reached by about 400 andesite steps. It is covered with massive rectangular stones.

Sundanese culture considers the site sacred. They believe King Siliwangi built the structure in one night. It faces northwest, toward the Mount Gede volcano. The site was completed by 5000 BC. The entire hill may itself be an ancient pyramid. So far, researchers have found:

    • Based on geoelectric, georadar, and geomagnetic testing, there is a structure beneath the surface with large chambers;
    • Many man-made artifacts have been discovered;
    • The construction of the site spans four eras;
    • The site was dated 6,500 years BP (before present) by carbon radiometric dating at 3–4 meters below the surface (12,500 years at 8 to 10 meters below the surface), and the artifacts at the surface date to about 4,800 years BP;
    • The site area is approximately 25 hectares. The massive Borobudur temple occupies only 1.5 hectares.
    • Walls of the terraces are similar to those found at Machu Picchu in Peru.

Dr. Danny Hilman is responsible for the archaeological team on the site. They also announced the discovery of a metal device that is presumed to be the worlds oldest electrical instrument. According to researchers, this object is made out of gold and copper and seems to resemble a primitive capacitor. 

Indonesia pyramids

The discovery of the electrical device at  Gunung Padang  is getting a lot of attention. Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia visited the site and congratulated the researchers. According to archaeologists, the subsurface layers at Gunung Padang might be more than 12,000 years old. Finding an electrical device in that area suggests that ancient man mastered electricity thousands of years ago.

Previously, the researchers found giant bowls, rivers and springs, domes, towers, aquifers and a transmitter. Magnetic anomalies are found in these locations.

Mount Sadahurip is another pyramid shaped hill in West Java, near Cicapar Sand Village. Mount Sadahurip, dubbed the Garut Pyramid, is undergoing verification tests to see if the mount is indeed a man-made (or partially man-made) structure.

Garut Pyramid Java Indonesia

The Garut Pyramid is larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza and could be far older. By using geo-electric instruments, surveyors are measuring the resistance of the geological layers, while seeking additional funding to begin excavations. An initial survey determined that the structure is unlikely to be of natural formation.

Bada Valley, Sulawesi features several megaliths throughout a remote area in the Poso Regency on the island of Sulawesi. It is part of Lore Lindu National Park. Bada Valley features dozens of ancient megaliths and several large stone caldrons. The objects remain a mystery.

Bada Sulawesi monolith

Bada Valley Indonesia archeology

Bada Valley Indonesia

Bada Valley Indonesia monolith

Sulawesi monoliths

The carved megaliths are between 1,000-5,000 years old. They’re scattered across the valley. When asked about the origin of these statues, locals explain that they’ve always been here. Some believe they were used in ancestral worship or may have had something to do with human sacrifice. Others believe that these statues ward off evil spirits. One legend tells that they are criminals which were turned to stone, and there is even a superstition that the statues can disappear or move from place to place. Some have even been reported found in slightly different locations. These statues are made from a type of stone not found anywhere near the area.

Tanah Toraja, Sulawesi. More monoliths are found throughout Torajah land and lives.

torajah sulawesi

Tanah toraja monolith

Cipari, Java is a Neolithic settlement in the Kuningan district of West Java, northeast of Bogor. Megalithic formations are found here. They are dated at around 1000 BCE.

cipari Indonesia archaeology cipari

Sumba features many monoliths, including tombs:

sumba east nusa tenggara

Pyramid Lalakon, West Java. Much work remains, but it fits the profile of similar-shaped mounds in the region.

pyramid lalakon West Java

Candi Sukuh, West Java resembles Mayan-style temples.

candi Sukuh Temple

Gunung Kawi, Bali

gunung kawi bali

Nias, Sumatra

Nias Sumatra monolith

Candi Sambisari, Java

Candi Sambisari temple

Indonesia is best known for its famous and elegant temples, including Borobudur, Tanah Lot, Uluwatu and many others. However, these emerging and lesser-known gems are worth the trip. As a fan of Ancient Aliens and ancient arts and culture, this is a topic that I love. If you have stories and photos to share, please contact me.

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Indonesia Pays Tribute To Tsunami Victims, Anniversary

Tsunami Struck Sumatra, Southeast Asia

Thousands of people held a memorial on Thursday in Indonesia’s Aceh province, the epicenter of the Indian Ocean tsunami, as the world prepared to mark a decade since a disaster that took 220,00 lives and laid waste to coastal areas in 14 countries.

tsunami memorial Indonesia

On December 26, 2004 a 9.3-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia’s western coast sparked a series of gigantic waves that wrought destruction across countries as far apart as Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Somalia. Among the victims were thousands of foreign visitors enjoying Christmas on the region’s sun-kissed beaches, striking tragedy into homes around the world.

In Indonesia’s province of Aceh, Vice-President Jusuf Kalla led tributes to the dead at the Siron mass grave. In Aceh’s capital, Banda Aceh, Mr. Kalla thanked local volunteers and the outside world for helping Aceh recover from the tragedy. He also presented awards to ambassadors from the donor nations.

Banda Aceh Sumatra Indonesia tsunami

Muslim clerics, tsunami survivors and rescue workers led around 7,000 mourners gathered at Banda Aceh’s black-domed Baiturrahman Grand Mosque for memorial prayers late Thursday.

Malaysian cleric Syeikh Ismail Kassim said he and several hundred compatriots attended to show support for Aceh.

“We hope Aceh people will not waver as a result of the calamity that has befallen them,” he told AFP.

Aceh governor Zaini Abdullah thanked Indonesians and the international community in his address at the mosque, one of the few buildings which withstood the wrath of the massive earthquake and ensuing waves which left 170,000 people in the country dead or missing.

Sulawesi sunset

“The tsunami had caused deep sorrow to Aceh residents from having lost their loved ones,” he said. “Sympathy from Indonesians and the international community has helped (Aceh) to recover,” he added. He also called on residents not to “dwell in our grief, so that we could rise from adversity and achieve a better Aceh”.

Kamaruddin, a fisherman who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said he attended the prayers to remember his wife and three children who died in the tsunami.

“I hope there will be no more disasters in Aceh,” the 50-year-old said.

In Meulaboh, a fishing town considered to be the ground zero of the tsunami – where massive waves flattened almost everything – Indonesian flags were flown at half-mast as small groups of residents held night prayers at mosques. The main memorials were planned for Friday morning, starting in Aceh which was hit first by the waves, then moving to Thailand where candlelit ceremonies are expected in the resort hubs of Phuket and Khao Lak.

Indonesia map

There will also be events in Sri Lanka, including at the site where a train carrying 1,500 people was washed away, as well as in several European capitals to remember foreign nationals who perished.

Many of the tsunami’s victims died in dark, churning waters laden with uprooted trees, boats, cars and eviscerated beach bungalows, as the waves surged miles inland and then retreated, sucking many more into the sea.

Thailand saw 5,395 people killed by the disaster – half of them foreign tourists.

British survivor Andy Chaggar was in a bungalow on Thailand’s Khao Lak when the tsunami waves struck, taking his girlfriend’s life and sweeping him inland.

“I came to in the water… there was glass, metal, there were pieces of wood, bricks, it was like being in a washing machine full of nails,” he told AFP on Thursday, on the same beach where he lost his girlfriend.

As the scale of the tragedy emerged, disaster-stricken nations struggled to mobilise a relief effort, leaving bloated bodies to pile up under the tropical sun or in makeshift morgues.

The world poured money and expertise into the relief and reconstruction, with more than US$13.5 billion (S$17.8 billion) collected in the months after the disaster. Almost US$7 billion in aid went into rebuilding more than 140,000 houses across Aceh, thousands of kilometres of roads, and new schools and hospitals.

The vast majority of Indonesia’s 170,000 victims perished in the province, among them tens of thousands of children. But the disaster also ended a decades-long separatist conflict, with a peace deal between rebels and Jakarta struck less than a year later. It also prompted the establishment of a pan-ocean tsunami warning system, made up of sea gauges and buoys, while individual countries have invested heavily in disaster preparedness.

But experts have cautioned against the perils of “disaster amnesia” creeping into communities vulnerable to tsunamis.

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/as-world-honours-the-dead/1549754.html

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia