IHJR Indonesia Initiative
Despite emerging in 1998 as a democracy after 32 years of authoritarian rule rife with human rights abuses, Indonesia has taken few steps to come address its dark past. There has been no truth commission to expose the many crimes committed during President Suharto’s New Order and level-minded scholars and officials are strongly, and sometimes coercively, discouraged from challenging the standard discourse on these events. In essence, Indonesia is blindly moving forward in reinventing itself without reflecting on the legacy of its past, and thus feeding the country’s culture of impunity.
The IHJR formally began its work in Indonesia in 2007 when it created a partnership with the Center for History and Political Ethics (PUSdEP) at Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. PUSdEP is the only place in Indonesia doing serious work on the history and legacy of the New Order. Founded in 2004, PUSdEP has received considerable attention both domestically and internationally and has become a center for dialogue and scholarship on these issues.
The most significant undertaking of the IHJR-PUSdEP partnership is the creation of a commission to begin to write a consensus history of the New Order. While bringing this project to fruition will no doubt be a long-term endeavor, a pilot project is currently underway. In this regard, a diverse group of religious leaders and scholars has been put together for a project on the role of religion during the New Order. Programming has included planning meeting and a symposium that featured a distinguished panel of presenters and a diverse audience, including former political prisoners.
We are proud to announce the IHJR-sponsored publication of Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence (Suara di Balik Prahara), edited by Dr. Baskara T. Wardaya, that came out of this partnership. The English translation by Jennifer Lindsay was published on September 2, 2013, and is available through Amazon.com.
“This striking compilation of essays surveys a variety of views about the 1965 mass violence in Indonesia and the current efforts to understand this event. Truth Will Out is the product of an oral history project involving senior and young researchers from Yogyakarta. The accounts presented include: a military man who continues to see the violence as justified, and who refuses survivors the status of victim; two Muslims who believe that the Communists were and continue to remain a threat to society; and a Catholic activist who reflects on how they were manipulated to support the violence. These accounts are complemented by the views of survivors of the violence, some of whom see this as a national problem that goes far beyond individual suffering. Truth Will Out provides a valuable window into why this past event still remains contested today, as well as why obstacles to reconciliation and full rehabilitation of the survivors still exist. (Series: Herb Feith Translation Series),” Amazon.com
The Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR) works with educational and public policy institutions to organize and sponsor historical discourse in pursuit of acknowledgement, and the resolution of historical disputes. Founded in 2004, the IHJR has conducted multi-year projects in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.