Director: Maj Wechselmann.
Duration: 56 min
Produced By: Swedish Television (SvT) / Norwegian Brodcasting (NRK) / Fritt Ord (Norway)
Language: English/Indonesian-Bahasi with English captions and subtexts
Released in 2013.
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In the year of 1965 the members of the organisation for women, Gerwani, were accused of having tortured six generals to death, they were also accused of having participated in a military coup to overthrow the government together with the Indonesian Communist Party.
These accusations had no trace of truth in them. They were part of a propaganda staged by the notorious dictator Suharto in order to commit one of the worst genocides in history which took place between 1965-1968.
It has been quite a job to find authentic filmed material from the events of 1965-1968, most was erase, but thanks to our Indonesian counter-partners and the permission to use footage from the outrageous NBC-film “The Troubled Victory – The Battle for Asia” , we were able to gather a lot.
The background by Maj Wechselmann
A film CAN make a difference in this world. Of course “The act of killing” is an example. Two other examples are one from world of fiction and one from the journalist Amy Godman and her TV team.
First hand interviews with former political prisoners, TAPOLS, reveals a lot the facts of life in prison. They are former student activists, teachers, union leaders, jouralists and so on. But first and most they are women, members of the progressive and feminist women organisation of Gerwani. Before Suharto came to supreme power as a dictator Gerwani was the third biggest women organisation in the world, counting more than a million active members.
In October 1975 five young TV reporters from an Australian TV network were killed by Indonesian troops while reporting from the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. This was a sensitive matter for Australian-Indonesian trading interests, and therefore the ”incident” was briefly investigated by the authorities and then canceled. However, the relatives of the journalists refused to stop researching the murders, and when the fictionalized film Baliboo was released in the late 2009 it caused an outburst all over Australia. As an immediate result the authorities of Australia were forced to re-open the investigation, and the response of Indinesia was to ”cool down” the diplomatic relations with Australia. The film Baliboo has been banned in Indonesia, but DVD retailers sold ten thousands of illegal copies. Not bad for a fictional film!
In November 1991 the journalist Amy Goodman and her TV team were trying to capture the picture of the massacre of the Santa Cruz Grave Yard on East Timor, where hundreds of unarmed people were killed by the Indonesian military. One of the crew members, camera operator Max Stahl, was seriously injured by Indonesian troops. The film was smuggled out of East Timor, and when it was published, the United Nations ventured on a number of sanctions towards Indonesia.
Munir Said Talib, lawyer and human rights activist, in 2002 received The Right Livelyhood Award. He was murdered in 2004. One person has been convicted for the murder, but it is rather obvious that the Indonesian Government is involved. Many journalists have gone public with the accusations and the demands of a more extensive investigation, but they have all been threatened with prosecution for defamatory libeling.
As the female professor Saskia Wieringa says in the end of our film: We can´t close the books.
Let´s hope that the film “the Act of Killing” as well as “The Women and the Generals will finally help us close the books.