"Rights to Justice: Mass Graves and Memorialization"

On the 9th of May 2016 the Indonesian government announced that it would form a team to investigate mass graves of victims of the 1965-1966 massacres based on the list of locations compiled by various victims’ advocacy groups. However until this moment there has been no further attempt to investigate or to protect these mass graves as sites of the mass killings conducted in 1965-1966 of those alleged to be communists.   This Annual Seminar aims to bring to light two cases:  the exceptional case of Plumbon (Central Java) where a monument has been erected with the names of those killed in this period as victims of the massacres. And as a comparative case, the deliberate destruction of the 1988 mass graves which took place in Iran and the geo-mapping of the genocide sites. Discussion of these two cases will be a highly significant entry point for further reflection on advocacy strategies in dealing with the massacres that took place in 1965-1966.   

Memorialization through the preservation of human remains can become a central component in providing an account of past violence and brutality and in educating the public about the sheer scope of death that occurred. It can also help promote reconciliation but only through the process of truth telling and remembrance of the past which also becomes a symbolic tool of 'never again'. The memorialization of these mass graves will also be placed within the recent political developments regarding the search for historical truth of the 1965-1966 events.

Date:  3 November 2017

Time: 15.00 - 17.00

Place: International Institute of Social History (Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis - IISG)

Cruquiusweg 31, Amsterdam

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Programme

14.30 - 15.00            Entry and Drinks  

15.00 - 15.05            Opening – by Ratna Saptari  (Coordinator Annual Seminar IPT1965 Series)

15.05 - 15.20            'Taking a Step Back'...? Update on 'Dealing with Past Atrocity' 

                                  by Nursjahbani Katjasungkana  (General Coordinator IPT 1965)

15.30 - 15.50            The Struggles for Memorialization of  Mass Graves in Plumbon Semarang, Central Java   

                                  by Yunantyo Adi Setyawan (Chair of the Committee for Mass Grave Memorialization, Plumbon)

15.50 - 16.15            Discussion

16.15 - 16.35            Shadi Sadr :Landscapes of Pain:  Mass Graves in Iran 

                                  (Founder and Executive Director of Justice for Iran)

16.35 - 17.00            Discussion + Conclusion 

                                   Saskia Wieringa (Chair of the IPT1965 Foundation)

Book Reviewsoe tjen marching end of silence

Soe Tjen Marching: The End of Silence, Accounts of the 1965 Genocide in Indonesia. Amsterdam University Press BV, Amsterdam, 2017.

How could one better commemorate the victims of the human rights violations of 1965/66 and the years after (up till now), than by reading their accounts that have been gathered over the last few years by Soe Tjen Marching. The book has been structured according to the distance from the factual abuses in 1965: the oral history by victims themselves, their wives, their children and finally even their grandchildren. That makes very clear that the violations still continue in third generation taboo and discrimination.

The very informative introduction reveals the mechanism of using fear during the Orde Baru (1966-1998), that was one of the instruments Suharto used to stay in power. It still works today. In her introduction. Marching argues both with a detached scientific view and personal experiences. It makes clear why the fear still is there.

The victim’s accounts and those of their relatives are thus even the more courageous. But strangely enough they also make good reading. People become individuals with their own emotions and reflections. Very moving are the grandchildren of the forced labour prisoners on Buru, who were born in that exile. They end the silence in their families by adding an acronym to their name Svj (after one of the prisoners’ villages, Savanajaya). The man is proud to be born and raised in the exile of his grandfather.

It is difficult to choose one history as the most impressive. All have their own merits. The language is authentic and in no way sentimental. The photographs by Angus Nicholls do really add a dimension, to give a face to the story-teller. But also the other way round: they look into the lens and know they make themselves known to “the outside world”, and thus break the taboo for their fellow-survivors who not yet had the courage. As such this book is a monument for the author, a woman who has the courage to stand up even against the fear of her own mother, to end the silence. We can only hope that an Indonesian translation will make these accounts available to a broader Indonesian public soon. (Martha Meijer)

final reportIn a strong voice Judge Zak Yacoob spoke the words so many victims of the 1965 tragedy had been waiting for, for so long. The Verdict of the International People's Tribunal 1965 (IPT 1965) considers the State of Indonesia responsible for crimes against humanity committed in the period 1965/1966 and the years after. These crimes include killings, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearances and hate propaganda. The Verdict also considers foreign states, specifically USA, UK and Australia complicit of these crimes. The verdict notes that possibly those crimes can also be considered to fall within the definition of genocide. The report is available at: http://ultimus-online.com/index.php/toko-buku/terbitan-ultimus/product/160-final-report-ipt-1965.

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