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Army worried official narrative on 1965 affair no longer dominant: Activist

Tempo - September 16, 2017

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Human rights activist Sri Lestari Wahyoeningroem believes that the Army (TNI AD) is overly worried hence its plan to hold joint screenings of the film Pengkhianatan G30S-PKI on September 30.

Ayu, as she is known, believes that the TNI is concerned that their historical narrative of the 1965 affair which they have long promoted is no longer dominant.

"I read this as the TNI being over-worried and afraid of contesting or competing discourse that is different from than their narrative. And, it must be admitted that there are many different historical understandings of [what happened in 1965] that have long been kept hidden", said Ayu when contacted by phone on Saturday September 16.

According to Ayu, the TNI's worry is that there are many criticisms of their narrative of 1965. The September 30 Movement/Indonesian Communist Party (G30S/PKI) narrative or the government's version has no historical, empirical or other evidence to support it and has long been disputed.

The candidate National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) commissioner says that competing narratives are quite normal in a democracy.

Each group is free to convey their message in this space. But the TNI's message, according to Ayu, is to maintain the legitimacy or status quo of those in power and their historical version.

"Yet we live in modern times, we live in an era of democracy. Given current developments it is difficult for [the TNI] to maintain the hegemony of one narrative", said Ayu.

The Australian National University graduate added that many people, particularly the younger generation, are very aware and critical. "It's like water in a bucket which always looks for a small hole to get out, knowledge is like that, it can't be blocked", she said.

The TNI AD has instructed all of its regional commands to encourage the public to attend joint screenings of the film Betrayal of the G30S-PKI.

This was confirmed by TNI AD information centre chief Brigadier General Wuryanto on September 15, although Wuryanto was unable to provide details of the places that would be used for the screening of the film directed by Arifin C. Noer.

If the screenings are held in rural areas, said Ayu, it means that the TNI is attempting to enter areas where technology and information is not yet widespread.

According to Ayu, the TNI still has an influence in rural areas although she is not convinced that all communities will be able to be mobilised to watch the film.

"They're looking for possible openings. Hopefully it won't be done by means of repression. If they're repressive, we have to speak out loudly and together", said Ayu.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was TNI AD Akan Gelar Nonton Bareng Film G 30 S PKI, Ini Kata Aktivis.]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/news/2017/09/16/078909688/tni-ad-akan-gelar-nonton-bareng-film-g-30-s-pki-ini-kata-aktivis.

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