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Activism and Justice for the Survivors and Victims of the 1965 Violence in Indonesia - Sponsored by Southeast Asia Council (SEAC)

Sat, March 28, 5:00 to 7:00pm, Chicago Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Floor: Level 4, Sheraton Ballroom I

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel Proposal Application


This panel will reflect critically on activist campaigns for justice for survivors and victims of the 1965 violence in Indonesia from the mid 1960s to the present. According to the propaganda of the Suharto regime that emerged out of the violence those targeted in the violence were deviant and had to be crushed (McGregor 2007). In this context activism for justice for those murdered or imprisoned was extremely difficult.
The first two papers reflect on early transnational activism around this case. Drawing on the surviving letters of former Communist party member and death row prisoner Gatot Lestario, Hearman analyses how even from inside prison some were able to advocate for greater international solidarity against the Suharto regime. McGregor examines how those with connections to imprisoned former political activists such Carmel Budiardjo of TAPOL started campaigns for justice in Europe centring on profiles of those imprisoned and how these campaigns fared during the Cold War.
The second group of papers look at recent initiatives. The collapse of the Suharto regime in 1998 presented new opportunities for ‘transitional justice’. In the context of limited support from the Indonesian government Wahyuningroem analyses why some NGOs and victims groups have had successes in achieving justice at the regency levels in Palu, Central Sulawesi and Solo, Central Java. Based on extensive ethnographic research in Bali, Dwyer problematizes the way in which human rights language has potentially constrained survivors’ articulations of their experiences and examines alternative modes of giving voice to past and on-going violence.

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