Take Action on U.S. Support for Mass Violence in Indonesia
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“Yet the silence in the title also refers to our silence. Because the Indonesian genocide is not just Indonesian history, but American history. The U.S. provided weapons, money, and training to the death squads, and lists of thousands of names of public figures whom United States wanted killed. We in the us must do the same work as Indonesians. We must declassify the documents that reveal our role in these crimes, and take responsibility” - Joshua Oppenheimer at Independent Spirit Awards

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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 SilenceTHE MASSACRE of up to 1,000,000 communists, leftists, ethnic Chinese, and others in Indonesia in 1965-1967 is a key 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 flips the story by following Adi Rukun's investigation into the death of his older brother who was murdered during the violence. Like its Oscar-nominated predecessor, THE LOOK OF SILENCE was recently nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary.

These powerful films tell us as 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 from 1965 on. The full truth must come out; the U.S. should declassify all files related to Suharto's U.S.-backed seizure of power and the murderous events which followed.

ETAN urges you to see films and take action on U.S. accountability for its role in the massacres that followed Suharto's brutal seizure of power.

Read Breaking the Silence: The U.S. and Indonesia's Mass Violence.

What You Can Do

1) Support S.Res. 273. Call your Senators and urge them to cosponsor Senator Tom Udall's (D-NM) resolution condemning the 1965-1966 mass murder in Indonesia and expressing concern about the lack of accountability for these crimes.

Call the Capitol Switchboard - (202) 224-3121 - and ask for your Senators' offices. Once connected ask for the Senator or a foreign policy aide. Urge the Senator to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 273 on Indonesia, summarize the resolution, and a give your reasons why you believe it is important. Stress the need for both the U.S. and Indonesia to acknowledge the past by releasing all its documents from 1965/66. By taking responsibility for its role in these crimes, the U.S. will be supporting justice, reconciliation and assist efforts in Indonesia to hold its security forces accountable and to lift ongoing restrictions on freedom of expression.

Please encourage others to call. Be sure to follow-up with an email or another call. Let us know the results of your calls.

S.Res. 273 urges Indonesia to consider a truth, justice, and reconciliation commission to address crimes against humanity and other human rights violations and calls on the U.S. government departments and agencies involved in developing and implementing policy towards Indonesia at the time to locate, recommend for declassification, and make available to the public all records from that time. Read more about the S.Res. 273 here: http://etan.org/news/2015/10senate.htm.

2) Sign our 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.

We also urge you to sign the petition by Human Rights Watch here. http://thelookofsilence.com/participate

3) Watch the THE LOOK OF SILENCE and THE ACT OF KILLING. Both films are available on DVD and Blu-Ray or for streaming on Amazon and elsewhere. (Support ETAN by watching or ordering the films on Amazon.) Order discs or watch The Look of Silence from here: http://amzn.to/1T7VECP or The Act of Killing here: http://amzn.to/1O39rEc.

4) Organize a discussion of the films. Use our brief discussion guide, and let us know if you organize a showing or discussion or have 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.)

We also have a leaflet to hand out to the audience. PDFs: half-page:8.5" x 5.5" or full page - 8.5" x 11" or let us know if you want us to send you copies.

5) 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.)

Any time is a good time to spread the word; an especially effective time is in response to Oscar nomination of THE LOOK OF SILENCE and if it should win.

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. The Look of Silence is in contention for Best Documentary at this year's Academy Awards. The film explores one of the 20th century's deadliest atrocities through a family that lost their eldest son. These massacres remain 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 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 support of the military dictatorship. Anwar boasts of killing hundreds with his own hands, but he's enjoyed impunity ever since, and he 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/.  Order the film here: http://amzn.to/1O39sYL.

Order the documentaries here and support ETAN

The Look of Silence.

Blu-Ray DVD Blu-Ray (2 discs) DVD (2 discs)

see also

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