Take Action on U.S. Support for Mass Violence in Indonesia
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Reveal the Truth, Acknowledge the Crime

Take Action on U.S. Support for Mass Violence and Genocide in Indonesia

The Look of Silence glassesThe massacre of up to 1,000,000 communists, leftists, ethnic Chinese, and others in Indonesia in 1965-1967 is a foundational event in modern Indonesian political history, but it remains mostly a footnote for most in the United States and elsewhere.

 The documentary The Act of Killing shocked audiences as perpetrators of the mass murder reenacted their violence. The film has fueled a debate within Indonesia and drawn attention internationally to events unknown to many. Events that the U.S. facilitated and cheered at the time.

The Look of Silence, a companion film to THE ACT OF KILLING will soon be showing in U.S. theaters It follows the investigation by Adi Rukun into the murder of his older brother who was killed during the violence.

These powerful films tell us much about Indonesia today as they do about the past. However, any evaluation of the events of 1965-1967 must include a discussion of the role of Western powers in the violence, especially the United States. The
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) continues to call for accountability for those in the West who encouraged and assisted in the mass violence in Indonesia. The full truth must come out and the U.S. should declassify all files related to Suharto's U.S.-backed seizure of power and the murderous events which followed.

ETAN has prepared a background piece on the events and aftermath of Suharto's brutal seizure of power, where we focus on the U.S. role and responsibility. Read Breaking the Silence: The U.S. and Indonesia's Mass Violence.

What You Can Do

1) Sign the petition urging the U.S. government to take two immediate steps:

a) declassify and release all documents related to the U.S. role in the 1965/66 mass violence, and b) formally acknowledge the U.S. role in facilitating the 1965-66 violence and its subsequent support for the brutalities of the Suharto regime.

Thank you to all who have signed so far.

2) See the THE LOOK OF SILENCE Going to a showing of The Look of Silence? Print out our leaflet and hand it out to the audience. PDFs: half-page: 8.5" x 5.5" or full page - 8.5" x 11"

3) Spread the word about the petition and the film. Write a letter to the editor and post to facebook or other social media calling for the U.S. to take responsibility for its role in the mass killings in Indonesia. Go here for sample letters, tweets and facebook posts. It is best to use your own words. Also use ETAN's Backgrounder: Breaking the Silence: The U.S. and Indonesia's Mass Violence. for additional information. 

4) Organize a discussion of the films. (See our brief discussion guide, write etan@etan.org if you plan to use it or with any suggestions or comments.) If you are high school teacher or college professor teaching an appropriate subject, consider assigning The Act of Killing or The Look of Silence to your students. Use it as a springboard for discussions on the impact of U.S. foreign policy, the need to address human rights violations, and how the past affects the present. (Contact: Chris Lundry for further info or assistance.)

5) Support ETAN. We need your support to continue our work for justice and accountability. Please donate today.

For more information see http://www.etan.org


The Look of  SilenceTHE LOOK OF SILENCE is Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to the Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing. Through a family that lost their eldest son, the film explores one of the 20th century’s deadliest atrocities, still largely hidden after 50 years—Indonesia’s 1965 army-led purge and killing of as many as one million people. The family discovers years later (from Oppenheimer’s footage) who killed their son and how, and they must confront how privileged, dangerous, and close at hand the killers remain. The younger son, an optometrist named Adi, breaks the half-century of fearful silence with an act the film calls “unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power.” While testing the eyesight of the men who killed his brother, Adi confronts them. He challenges them to accept responsibility for their violence. Oppenheimer writes that the film depicts “a silence born of terror,” and “the necessity of breaking that silence, but also … the trauma that comes when that silence is broken."  More information about the film can be found here: http://thelookofsilence.com/


In The Act of Killing, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and executive produced by Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, the filmmakers expose a corrupt regime that celebrates death squad leaders as heroes.

When the Indonesian government was overthrown in 1965, small-time gangster Anwar Congo and his friends went from selling movie tickets on the black market to leading death squads in the mass murder of over a million opponents of the new military dictatorship. Anwar boasts of killing hundreds with his own hands, but he's enjoyed impunity ever since, and has been celebrated by the Indonesian government as a national hero. When approached to make a film about their role in the genocide, Anwar and his friends eagerly comply—but their idea of being in a movie is not to provide reflective testimony. Instead, they re-create their real-life killings as they dance their way through musical sequences, twist arms in film noir gangster scenes, and gallop across prairies as Western cowboys. Through this filmmaking process, the moral reality of the act of killing begins to haunt Anwar and his friends with varying degrees of acknowledgment, justification and denial. More information about the film can be found here: http://actofkilling.com/.

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