Saturday, April 16, 2011

Session III (Part II): Indonesia 1965-66

Baskara T. Wardaya: Providing Space for the Voiceless: Transitional Justice and Narratives on the 1965 Tragedy

Baskara T. Wardaya, a professor at Universitas Sanata Dharma, began his presentation with a quote from Mary Zurbuchen’s work:

Voices of ordinary citizens from all over the archipelago need to be given space in which to make their essential contribution toward understanding and resolution of this key episode [1965] in the Indonesian national story within local context.

Wardaya explained that the quote illuminated the need to look at the impact of the 1965 events outside of the parameters established by official narratives – in particular, by emphasizing the experiences and perspectives of survivors and their families. Wardaya then provided an overview of what took place in 1965, and noted that the official narrative created by Suharto was very linear and localized guilt with the PKI. This narrative prevailed throughout the Suharto regime, and was elaborated with details to legitimize the repression and atrocities perpetrated against the Indonesian people.

Wardaya described how this official narrative has perpetuated “silence and amnesia,” and that one way of disrupting this narrative is by telling the stories of victims and witnesses. In particular, Wardaya discussed the importance of understanding how these individuals perceive and cope with their circumstances, particularly in the face of ongoing marginalization and discrimination. He then provided examples from several victims he had interviewed, including one former prisoner who poignantly described the “obligation” she felt to speak up on behalf of not only herself, but her entire nation.

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