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Symposium '1965' Today. Living with the Indonesian Massacres

2 October 2015
IISG, Amsterdam

Dit is een Engelstalige bijeenkomst

Register via NIOD.

1965 marked a turning point in Indonesian history.  A failed putsch on 1 October was followed swiftly by a violent backlash against the Left. About half a million were killed, perhaps another million and a half detained without trial. The violence paved the way for the military regime of General Suharto, the New Order. Millions of survivors and their relatives lost their civil rights. The nation was changed forever.

For half a century, serious discussion of this shocking violence has been taboo within Indonesia. However, the taboo has begun to lift in recent years.

This event will bring together scholars from Indonesia and around the world. They will develop new frameworks for understanding the violence and its legacies.


8.30 Registration
9.00 Opening by Leo Lucassen (IISG) and Gerry van Klinken (KITLV/UvA)

Competing Narratives in Historical Culture in and beyond Indonesia
Chair: Nanci Adler (NIOD)

9.30-10.00 John Roosa (UBC), Massacres as non-events: fifty years of denying a politicide
10.00-10.30 Farabi Fakih (UGM), The discourse of Guided Democracy in the post-New Order era
10.30-11.00 Geoffrey Robinson (UCLA), Indonesia’s anti-leftist violence in comparative perspective

11.00 Coffee

Historical Culture and Transitional Justice in and beyond Indonesia
Chair: Gerry van Klinken (KITLV/UvA)

11.20 -11.50 Christian Gerlach (UB), Indonesian narratives of survival and their relation to societal persecution
11.50-12.20 Asvi Warman Adam (LIPI), Reconciliation for some - why not for all? The Air Force, the Chinese, the communists
12.20-12.50 Robert Cribb (ANU), Modes of Denial: Indonesia and genocide in comparative perspective

12.50-13.50 Lunch (a warm Indosnesian lunch is included)

Roundtable 1: Institutional Legacies and Civil Society
Chair: Ugur Üngör (UU)

Jessica Melvin (University of Melbourne), Agency and the Indonesian Genocide. Why does it matter today?
Abdul Wahid (UGM), Breaking the Silenced Past: The ‘Cleansing of Leftist Elements’ in Indonesian Public universities after the 1965 coup
Adriaan Bedner (UL), Macet Lagi or Dua Jalur: Getting  Rid of the Anti-Communist Legal Legacy

Roundtable 2: Transitional Justice – Communities
Chair: Ulbe Bosma

13.50-14.50 (parallel with roundtable 1)
Baskara T  Wardaya (USD), Transitional Justice at the grassroots level: the case of “Sekber ‘65”, Surakarta
Anett Keller, How to deal with the past?: Approaches, impact and challenges of locally driven civil society initiatives
Martijn Eickhoff (NIOD), Transnational memory and the meaning of mass violence against Chinese schools in Semarang

14.50-15.10 Tea / Coffee

Roundtable 3: Education Against Taboos
Chair: Saskia Wieringa (UvA)

Ayu Ratih (ISSI), How do we talk about “1965”?
Agus Suwignyo (UGM), Counting the uncounted: Indonesia’s 1965 and the changing trajectory of teacher-training policy
Annie Pohlman (UQ), Women’s testimonies of rape and torture as crimes against humanity in Indonesia

Roundtable 4: Transitional Justice – Reparations
Chair: Papang Hidayat (Amnesty International)         

15.10-16.10 (parallel with roundtable 3)
Katharine McGregor (University of Melbourne), ‘Memory and historical justice for the 1965 violence in Indonesia’
Sri Lestari (Ayu) Wahyuningroem (ANU), State reparation and challenges for truth and justice for 1965 mass violence
Vannessa Hearman (University of Sydney), Contesting victimhood and the place of ‘incidental victims’ in the 1965 case

16.10-16.30 Closing Reflections

16.30-17.30 Drinks


From 1 to 9 October, the International Institute of Social History (IISH) organises a small exhibition about the mass violence that occurred in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966. Hundreds of thousands perished in these events, and they remain shrouded in taboos. The exhibition will display reports, books and memoirs from the IISH collection. The exhibition opens as part of the international symposium “1965” Today. Living With the Indonesian Massacres.

Organized by


Sponsored by

NIOD, KITLV, UCLA, IISG, Amnesty International, Leiden University and KNAW.