“Yes, the dead do speak, but in their own way and in their own time. Buchenwald, Ravensbruck, Dachau, Auschwitz, and all the other human slaughterhouse, even those in Indonesia, cannot silence to dead.” ⎯Pramoedya Ananta Toer, The Mute’s Soliloquy
30th September, 1965, was a day that symbolized the political transition between the first Indonesian president, Soekarno, and the new order regime of Soeharto. Soekarno himself was a nationalist who promoted ideas of the people standing against colonialism and imperialism, so his biggest supporters naturally came from Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI), or Communist Party of Indonesia.
On the 1stof October, at a time when all other media was banned, the Indonesian army’s official newspaper published stories accusing leaders and members of the PKI of being responsible for the killing of the several generals in Jakarta.
In about three weeks following the events in Jakarta, mass killings began to take place all across Java. Scores of people were summoned and executed by mobs with the support of military personnel. The victims included members of the PKI, progressive and liberal organizations, civilians, artists and academics who were critical of the government, and even people who did not have any relations with the communists at all. It turned into a witch hunt where fingers could be pointed at anyone the mobs desired.
It was estimated that between one to two million were killed, and others who were accused and survived were being isolated and imprisoned on islands. Some who were studying or sent abroad by Soekarno were not able to return to Indonesia. These are just a few examples on a long list of violations that have had a deep impact in education and the younger generation.
Before the 1998 Reformation in Indonesia, people accepted the 1965 tragedy discourse according to the New Order regime’s version. Accordingly, history teachers in Indonesia had to use the conventional perspective in history books that were controlled by the regime. In addition, students had to watch Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (The Betrayal of The 30th September Movement/Indonesian Communist Party), a historical movie of the 1965 Tragedy constructed by the regime which simply emphasizes the representation that communism is evil every year. tells about the torture of six generals and a lieutenant conducted by communists that aired every 30th of September throughout the New Order period. The film analysts categorize this film as ‘documentary-drama’.
The fall of the regime in 1998 triggered people’s motivation to explore further for the truth beyond the 1965 Tragedy, aside from the conventional version. Many critical groups create documentary films and books in order to provide an alternative discourse in history. Those new resources challenge communities, schools and history teachers to become more open to any interpretations.
A Daughter’s Memory hopes to open a discussion about the role of films as a social realm where the memory of silenced voices is planted, counter to established histories. This animated documentary is a process to crystalize social memory, hopefully can make a historical trauma in the memory visible.