Learning about Indonesian language, history, society and culture

Category: Translation

*That* Ahok Campaign Video – A Translation

Indonotes provides a translation of a recent viral video from Ahok’s campaign for Jakarta Governor

Its been all over social media, its been a source of controversy. Most of the controversy has been about the imagery employed.

Yet the words overlaying the video, from a speech by Djarot, Ahok’s running mate, bear repeating. There is little to be argued over here. Yet often the divisive election campaign has shown the importance, and the fragility of the sentiment they express:

My brothers and sisters
all the citizens of Jakarta.
The time is coming
to be part of history
and we will show that
the country of pancasila
is truly present in Jakarta.
We will also show
that ‘Though Many, We Are One’
is not just an empty phrase, but is grounded here in Jakarta.
Whoever you are
whatever your religion
whatever your ethnicity
wherever you come from
you are all
our brothers and sisters, of one people and one one homeland
and have the same rights and responsibilities.
Don’t ask where you come from.
Don’t ask what’s your religion.
But ask what have you done for Jakarta.

seluruh warga Jakarta.
Waktu sudah mulai mendekat.
Jadilah bagian
dari pelaku sejarah ini
dan akan kita tunjukkan bahwa
negara Pancasila benar-benar hadir di Jakarta.
Kita juga akan tunjukkan
bahwah Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, benar-benar
bukan hanya jargon, tapi sudah membumi di Jakarta.
Siapapun kalian
apa agama kalian
apa suku kalian
dari mana asal usul kalian
saudara saudara semua adalah
saudara kita sebangsa dan setanah air
dan mempunyai hak dan kewajiban yang sama.
Jangan tanyakan dari mana kau barasal.
Jangan tanyakan apa agamamu
tapi tanyakan apa yang telah kau perbuat untuk Jakarta.




The Verdict on Prabowo Subianto – A Translation

KEP03VIII1996DKP Header


A leaked document sheds some light on a notorious human rights case, but also poses many questions and leaves much unsaid

This post looks at the controversy surrounding a leaked document dealing with the end of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s Career in the Indonesian Army, digging behind some of the headlines, and provides an English translation (the first English translation available in full to my knowledge – so an Indonotes exclusive of sorts).

The Controversy

The Jakarta Post provides a helpful summary of the controversy:

“A leaked document circulating on the Internet detailing the reasons behind the dismissal of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto from military service on Aug. 21, 1998, has cast doubts on the former general’s suitability to serve as president, if elected on July 9. The document, which was a scanned copy of the official letter signed by members of the Indonesian Military’s (TNI) Officer’s Honorary Council (DKP) tasked with hearing the cases of Prabowo’s complicity in the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists in 1998…

Signatories in the document include then Lt. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the current President; then Army chief of staff Gen. Soebagyo Hadi Siswoyo; Lt. Gen. Fachrul Razi; and Lt. Gen. Agum Gumelar…

The document states Prabowo, as Kopassus commander, overstepped his authority by ordering the Mawar and Melati units to “arrest and detain” the activists of the radical People’s Democratic Party (PRD)… The document states the DKP not only dismissed Prabowo on charges of human rights violations in relation to the abductions, but also on a number of other actions that demonstrated his insubordination and disregard for the military code.”


At this point there is not much doubt as to the authenticity as it has already been verified by several of the original signatories.


It should be noted that this only scratches the surface of the culpability for the wide ranging human rights abuses that took place during the death throes of Suharto’s regime. For example, one figure who has had little mention during the recent controversy around the letter is the late Feisal Tanjung, at the time commander of the armed forces. Also General Hartono, under whose authority Prabowo seems to have claimed to act, has gained little attention. And this is all sidestepping the anti-Chinese rioting and violence in Aceh and East Timor that occurred over the last years of Suharto’s regime and early years of the post Suharto Era.

Moreover, following the leak there seems to have been little discussion of the objectivity of the signatories to the ruling, which was questioned at the time.[1] There are an interesting mix of characters including those with reasons not to rock the boat to much but also those with good reason for wanting to side-line Prabowo Subianto:

Subagyo Hadi Siswoyo: Who had previously served and Suharto’s bodyguard (Suharto being Prabowo Subianto’s father in law).[2]

Agum Gumelar: Who had experience as chief of staff for a regional command with forces fighting in Aceh[3], and who had been shunted from a long career in Kopassus following a misstep in allowing Megawati to become chairperson of the PDI.[4] A couple of years later Prabowo would take his old job as head of Kopassus.

Djamari Chaniago: Who was regarded as a ‘Wiranto Loyalist’[5] (Wiranto being one of Prabowo Subianto’s main rivals at the time) and who at the time of the ruling was in command of a large number of troops stationed in East Timor who would later be accused of serious human rights abuses.[6]

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: Future President, at this stage seen as a ‘close associate’ of Wiranto [7], and who was Chief of Staff in the Jakarta region during the attack on the PDI headquarters in 1996.[8]


Armed Forces of the Republic of Indonesia


Officers’ Honour Council

Decision of the Officers’ Honour Council

Number: KEP/03/VIII/1998/DKP

The Officers’ Honour Council is formed based on the Decree of the Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces: Skep/533/P/VII/1998 dated 24 July 1998 after sitting in session on dates 10, 11 and 18 August 1998 three times. The hearings examine the case of the investigated party:

Name:  Prabowo Subianto

Age/Date of Birth: 47 Years / 17 October 1951

Rank: Lieutenant General Indonesian Army

Post: Senior Officer Indonesian Armed Forces Headquarters

Unit: Indonesian Armed Forces Headquarters

Recalling: The Decree of the Commander of Indonesian Armed Forces: SKEP/838/XI/ 1995 dated 27 November 1995 regarding the Ratification of Interim Text of Administrative Guidelines for the Officers’ Honour Council within the domain of the Indonesian Armed Forces.

Reading: The Report of the Session of the Officers’ Honour Council Number: BAS/003/VII/1998/DKP and other letters in connection with the aforementioned case.

Considering: That before the Council determines a decision, the Council has examined the investigated party and witnesses that in essence can be summarised as follows:

a. [He] intentionally acted incorrectly in the analysis of orders regarding the Army Chief of Staff’s[9]  telegram Number : STR/41/1997 dated 4 February 1997 and STR/92/1997 dated 11 March 1997 although knowing that the Army Chief of Staff as source (pembina) did not have the authority to issue this order.

b. Intentionally made the Army Chief of Staff’s order, that was known by him to have been given without proper authority, a basis for circulating the written order : Sprin/689/IX/1997 dated 23 September 1997 to the Merpati[10]  taskforce to undertake special operations in the sphere of national stability.

c. Carried out and managed operations in the sphere of national stability which was not within his authority but was under the authority of the Commander of the Armed Forces.[11]

Actions such as the aforementioned were repeatedly committed by the Senior Officer who was involved with

1. The involvement of a special taskforce in East Timor and Aceh

2. The freeing of hostages in Wamena Irja[12]

3. The involvement of Kopassus[13]  in the safety of the President in Vancouver Canada

d. Ordering members of the Mawar[14]  taskforce, the Merpati taskforce via Infantry Colonel  Chairawan (Commander Group-4)[15]  and Infantry Major Bambang Kristiono to perform the uncovering, arrest and detention of activists from radical groups and the PRD,[16] which was known not to be within his authority and as a result Andi Arief, Aan Rusdianto, Mugiyanto, Nezar Patria, Haryanto Taslam, Rahardjo Waluyojati, Faisol Reza, Pius Lustrilanang and Desmond J Mahesa became victims.

Infantry Colonel Chairawan, Infantry Major Bambang, the officers and junior soldiers who were members of the Merpati and Mawar task forces were convinced of the validity of the task because according to the Commanding General “it had been reported to the [military] Command”  and “was on the orders of [military] Command.”

e. Did not report the operation he undertook to the Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, and only reported in at the beginning of April 1998 after the insistence of the head of military intelligence.[17]

f. Did not involve staff with correct authority[18]  in staff procedures, management and oversight.

g. Did not perform the duties and responsibilities of command in the management of the actions of the Merpati and Mawar units.

h. Often went abroad without the authorisation of Army Chief of Staff or the Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces

i. The aforementioned actions points a to h affirm that

1. The actions of Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto tend toward a habit of ignoring the system of operations, hierarchy, discipline and law that prevails in the sphere of the Indonesian army.

2. Do not reflect an ethic of professionalism in the taking of decisions, the consideration of norms of law, norms that prevail in the life of the nation and state, norms that prevail in the sphere of the Indonesian Army/Indonesian Armed Forces and norms for the engagement of Kopassus itself.

3. Did not reflect commander responsibility towards duties and towards soldiers.

4. Did not reflect the officer ethic especially the elements of defending truth and justice, loyalty and obedience, humanity and upholding high the name and honour of the Indonesian Armed Forces officer corps.

5. Did not reflect concern for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of the Sumpah Prajurit[19]

6. Did not reflect concern toward  the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th of the Sapta Marga[20]

7. Committed the offences:

a) Insubordination (Article. 103  KUHPM)[21]

b) Ordered the Commander of Group-4/Sandha[22]  Kopassus[23]  and members of the Merpati and Mawar units to deprive the liberty of others (Article. 55 (1) to 2 in connection with Article 333 KUHP[24]) and kidnapping (Article 55 (1) to 2 in connection with Article 328 KUHP)

i. The above actions are not fitting with the life of a soldier and the life of an Officer of the Indonesian Army

j. The aforementioned actions damage the honour of Kopassus, The Indonesian Army, The Indonesian Armed Forces, the Nation and State.

In accordance with the above, the Examined Officer under the name Lieutenant General (Indonesian Army) Prabowo Subianto is proposed to face administrative sanctions in the form of ending of his military service.

Thus is the decision confirmed on Friday 21st August 1998 by the Council.

SECRETARY                                                                              CHAIRMAN

DJAMARI CHANIAGO                                                            SUBAGYO HADI SISWOYO

LIEUTENANT GENERAL TNI                                               GENERAL TNI






















[1] Theo Sjafei Interview, Forum 10.8.98 , Indonesia. Volume 67 (1999), 127-132

[2] Theo Sjafei Interview, Forum 10.8.98 , Indonesia. Volume 67 (1999), 127-132

[3] Geoffrey B. Robinson, Rawan Is as Rawan Does: The Origins of Disorder in New Order Aceh, Indonesia. Volume 66 (1998), p. 155.

[4] Jun Honna, Military Ideology in Response to Democratic Pressure During the Late Suharto Era: Political and Institutional Contexts, Indonesia. Volume 67 (1999), pp 94-5.

[5] Power Politics and the Indonesian Military, Damien Kingsbury, p. 180

[6] Masters of Terror: Indonesia’s Military and Violence in East Timor, edited by Richard Tanter, Desmond Ball, Van Gerry Klinken, p. 84-5

[7] The Editors, Current Data on the Indonesian Military Elite, Indonesia. Volume 67(1999), 133-162.

[8] Emerging Democracy in Indonesia, ed. ISEAS, p. 125

[9] Gen. R. Hartono (he was then replaced by Wiranto on June 6,1997)

[10] Merpati literally means Dove

[11] Feisal Tanjung

[12] Irja = Irian Jaya a.k.a. West Papua

[13] Special Forces Unit

[14] Mawar literally meaning ‘rose’

[15] A unit within Kopassus

[16] Partai Rakyat Demokratic (Democratic People’s Party), a left wing pro democracy party formed in 1996

[17] This would be Major General Zacky Anwar Makarim (who held the post Aug 1997-Jan 1999)

[18] The military jargon term ‘Organik’ is used here

[19] Soldier’s oath: the second, third and fourth parts refer to following the law, upholding soldierly discipline, following superiors’ order and fulfilling onesduties with a feeling of reponsibility toward the military and Indonesian state.

[20] Another military oath: parts 3,5, 6 and 7 include the defence of integrity, truth and justice; the upholding of discipline, obedience and soldiers’ honour; loyalty to state and nation.

[21] KUHMP = Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Pidana Militer, the military criminal code

[22] Sandha, shortening of Sandhi Yudaha, loosely translated as covert warfare

[23] Special Forces

[24] KUHP = Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum Pidana, the Criminal Code


The Source Text

KEP03VIII1996DKP page 1 KEP03VIII1996DKP page 2 KEP03VIII1996DKP page 3

KEP03VIII1996DKP page 4

Translation – Chairil Anwar: Goodbye (Selamat Tinggal)

Another translation of a shortish poem from Chairil Anwar. As with all my translations Chairil Anwar’s poetry, once I had finished I compared mine to Burton Raffel’s translation (viewable on Google Books). I have talked before about the ambiguity inherent in Anwar’s works, and the comparison between the translations demonstrates it again. For example Raffel translates ‘angin lalu‘ ‘the wind blowing by’, whereas I have translated it as ‘the winds of the past‘, the difference hinging on the multiple meaning the word ‘lalu’.


I look in the mirror

This face covered in wounds
Whose is it?

I hear a roaring cry
… in my heart?…
Is it just the winds of the past?

Yet another song
Flutters in the pitch black night


It all thickens, all coagulates
All unknown to me…!!!

Selamat Tinggal

Aku berkaca
Ini muka penuh luka
Siapa punya?
Kudengar seru menderu
… dalam hatiku?…
Apa hanya angin lalu?
Lagu lain pula
Menggelepar tengah malam buta
Segala menebal, segal mengental
Segala tak kukenal… !!!
Selamat tinggal…!!

Translation – Chairil Anwar: Night-Time in the Mountains (Malam di Pegunungan)

Another translation from Chairil Anwar’s poetry collection Deru Campur Debu. This one is very short, only four lines, but is tricky in its own way, and the ambiguity that runs through much of Anwar’s work is in evidence here.

Reading the translations by Burton Raffel and M. Balfas (the links are to the Google Books versions) there are several subtle divergences. One point is the translation of the word ‘terlalu’ which can mean ‘very’ but also ‘too much’. By translating it as ‘too much’ my version casts a subtly different light on the meaning, hinting more at the self-defeating dimension of rumination.

Nigh-Time in the Mountains

I think: is it the Moon that makes it cold,
The houses pale and the trees stiff?
This time I want the answer too much
Hey, there’s a little kid playing chase with the shadows

Malam Di Pegunungan

Aku berpikir: Bulan inikah yang membikin dingin,
Jadi pucat rumah dan kaku pohonan?
Sekali ini aku terlalu sangat dapat jawab kepingin:
Eh, ada bocah cilik main kejaran dengan bayangan!

Translation – Chairil Anwar: Pure Verse (Sajak putih)

Continuing my series of translations of poems by the poet Chairil Anwar:

Pure Verse

Relying on rainbow coloured dancing
You’re in front of me, veiled in twilight’s silk
In the black of your eyes rose and jasmine flowers
The fragrance of your hair sways, play fighting

Silence sings, night arrives in prayer
Rippling the surface of the soul’s pool
And in my chest a sweet sounding song
Drawing my entirety to dance

Live from my life, the door is open
As long a your eyes gaze up for me

As long as you’re blood flowing from the wounds
Death’s coming won’t part us

Sajak Putih
Bersandar pada tari warna pelangi
Kau depanku bertudung sutra senja
Di hitam matamu kembang mawar dan melati
Harum rambutmu mengalun bergelut senda
Sepi menyanyi, malam dalam mendoa tiba
Meriak muka air kolam jiwa
Dan dalam dadaku memerdu lagu
Menarik menari seluruh aku
Hidup dari hidupku, pintu terbuka
Selama matamu bagiku menengadah
Selama kau darah mengalir dari luka
Antara kita Mati datang tidak membelah

Why translate the poetry of Chairil Anwar?

Reading the translations of Chairil Anwar on this blog one might fairly ask ‘what’s the point?’ Chairil Anwar  has been translated into English more than any other Indonesian poet – so why bother when there are so many other things one could translate instead.

One reason is availability – yes there are English translations of Chairil Anwar’s work, however they are not necessarily easily available to the casual reader, or at least not for free. In conjunction with this the copyright period for Chairil Anwar’s works has ended (copyright for literary works in Indonesia being 50 years after the death of the author) so I don’t need to worry about treading on anyones toes in terms of copyright.

The other reason is that the ambiguity of many of Chairil Anwar’s poems makes retranslation particularly interesting. In a couple of my earlier translations (Aku / I and Kepada Kawan / To A Friend) I highlighted how differing translations of one or two words can radically alter the meaning of the poem. This ambiguity was noted in Ian Caldwell’s (rather scathing) review of Burton Raffel’s translation of Chairil Anwar’s works:

Chairil’s poems are filled with linguistic ambiguities and syntactic possibilities which result in deliberate vagueness and uncertainties of meaning. These ambiguities naturally present problems of selection and interpretation for the translator: different translations are possible, and words have to be supplied to complete the meaning of a poem.

It is partly this elusiveness that makes translating Chairil Anwar’s poetry both challenging and rewarding.

Translation – Chairil Anwar: To a Beggar (Kepada Peminta-Minta)

Another of my translations from Chairil Anwar’s poetry collection Deru Campur Debu (The Roaring Mixed with Dust) can be found below.

To a Beggar

Ok, ok, I will face Him
Surrender myself and all my sins
But don’t look at me again
My blood will freeze

Don’t recount again
Face coverd in pockmarks
Pus weeping from it
Whilst walking you wipe it

A sound with each step
Groaning each time you look
Dripping from the air you come
Collapsing now and then

Troubling my dreams
Hurling me against the hard earth
A caustic feeling on my lips
A roaring in my ears

Ok, ok, I will face Him
Surrender myself and all my sins
But don’t look at me again
My blood will freeze

Kepada Peminta-minta
Baik, baik, aku akan menghadap Dia
Menyerahkan diri dan segala dosa
Tapi jangan tentang lagi aku
Nanti darahku jadi beku
Jangan lagi kamu bercerita
Sudah tercacar semua di muka
Nanah meleleh dari muka
Sambil berjalan kau usap juga
Bersuara tiap kaumelangkah
Mengerang tiap kau memandang
Menetes dari suasana kaudatang
Sembarang kaumerebah
Mengganggu dalam mimpiku
Menghempas aku di bumi keras
Di bibirku terasa pedas
Mengaum di telingaku
Baik, baik, aku akan menghadap Dia
Menyerahkan diri dan segela dosa.
Tapi jangan tentang lagi aku
Nanti darahku jadi beku.

Translation – Chairil Anwar: Patience (kesabaran)


A can’t sleep
People chatting, dogs yapping
The distant world fades away
The darkness a stone wall
Pounded by incessant noise
Besides fire and ash

I want to speak
My voice is gone, my strength flown
Enough! Nothing’s happening!
Its a haughty world, take heed

The harshness freezing river water
And life no longer lives

I repeat the past again
With ears covered, eyes closed against the glare
Awaiting the inevitable abatement


Aku tak bisa tidur
Orang ngomong, anjing nggonggong
Dunia jauh mengabur
Kelam mendinding batu
Dihantam suara bertalu-talu
Di sebelahnya api dan abu

Aku hendak bicara
Suaraku hilang, tenaga terbang
Sudah! Tidak jadi apa-apa
Ini dunia enggan disapa, ambil perduli

Keras membeku air kali
Dan hidup bukan hidup lagi

Kuulangi yang dulu kembali
Sambil bertutup telinga, berpicing mata
Menunggu reda yang mesti tiba.

Translation – Chairil Anwar, My Friend and I (Kawanku dan Aku)

My Friend and I

We’ve both walked a good while
Piercing the mist
The rain drenches us
Ships stiffening in port

My blood congeals. I’m full to the brim.

Whose that chattering…?
My friend’s just a skeleton.
Lashing flaying vitality

He asks what’s the time?

Very late
Vanished, all purpose lost
And movement is meaningless


Kawanku dan Aku

Kami sama pejalan larut
Menembus kabut
Hujan mengucur badan
Berkakuan kapal di pelabuhan

Darahku mengental pekat. Aku tumpat

Siapa berkata-kata…?
Kawanku hanya rangka saja.
Karena dera mengelucak tenaga

Dia bertanya jam berapa?

Sudah larut sekali
Hilang tenggelam segala makna
Dan gerak tak punya arti.

‘Because at this time we are trying to create a positive image’: Reactions to The Act of Killing, Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer et al

The Act of Killing, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, follows a small group of those involved in the 1965-6 anti-Communist massacres in which perhaps 500,000-1,000,000 Indonesians were killed. The perpetrators featured in the film were associated with the nationalist paramilitary Pemuda Pancasila (Pancasila Youth), which is still in existence. In the film they boast about their crimes and hobnob with currently serving national and regional level politicians. In disturbing and surreal scenes they perform re-enactments of the atrocities in styles influences by western and Indonesian film genres.

Having seen this recently in London (the film and Director are currently on a national UK tour) I was planning to write a review. However, reading up on about the film I realised how much had already been written. Reviews and articles in the Guardian, Telegraph and Financial Times (as well as American and Australian newspapers among others) have already covered it for the non-specialist reader. For those interested in a more in depth look there is the wonderful resource of Inside Indonesia, with a couple of contrasting reviews from Jess Melvin and Robert Cribb and an interview with the director. Some wider context is provide by two pieces on how discussion of the 1965-6 pogroms is currently evolving in Indonesia, and a recent Inside Indonesia edition summarising recent research. And on the site of the International Institute for Asian Studies can be found a sophisticated treatment of the film and its context from Ariel Heryanto.

[Update 26.1.14 – I’ve come across some more interesting discussions of the film, including a review by the Cornell Academic Tom Pepinsky and in the comments on that review a link to a Quora discussion on Indonesian reactions to the film].

Whilst I was doing this reading an event caught my attention. In October 2012 a regional newspaper, Radar Bogor, published an article (the website is currently down but a cached version is available) entitled ‘The World Condemns the Pemuda Pancasila’ about the film and reactions to it. Feeling they had been unfairly represented, a week later hundreds of members of the Pemuda Pancasila descended on the offices of Radar Bogor demanding an apology. When a representative came out to negotiate he was jostled, punched and kicked. There followed reports to the police and Press Commission before an agreement was finally reached.

So, instead of a review, I thought I would do my bit to shed light on the film through a translation. Below I have translated the Radar Bogor Article which caused such a violent reaction. What I found particularly surprising is that the article actually went out of its way to include the self-justificatory and defensive comments of Pemuda Pancasila members.

The title for my blog post comes from a Pemuda Pancasila leader, and sums up the bizarre irony of resorting to violence to protest about being depicted as murderous.

The World Condemns the Pemuda Pancasila

PKI Massacres in Medan Filmed

Monday 1 October 2012

Bogor – Although the controversy over the film ‘[The] Innocence of Muslims’ in Indonesia is not yet over, there is now another film circulating with the potential to cause a commotion across the country. The film, entitled Jagal [slaughterer]or The Act of Killing has succeeded in taking the world by storm.

The aforementioned documentary film by Joshua Oppenheimer tells the story of mass killing of members and sympathisers of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and ethnic Chinese, by youths in Medan including elements of the Pemuda Pancasila [Pancasila Youth] in the year 1965.

From beginning to end the film Jagal presents the savagery of a massacre from the perspective of the perpetrators.

Film clips circulating on Youtube since two months ago (28/8/12), show the cheerfulness of the PKI’s killers dressed in orange camouflage, when carrying out killings in a village. Their faces also showed no remorse.

Provocative elements of the film are also contained in the appearance of two national figures, that is former vice president Jusuf Kalla and the Chairman of the National Pemuda Pancasila Council, Japto Soerjosoemarno.

Due to the theme taken, The Act of Killing clearly may spark controversy within the country and the international community. And the film has not just been uploaded to Youtube. Joshua has already shown this film [depicting this] inhumanity at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival in Canada. The film Jagal then received quite a high score, 8.6, on the film fan review site IMDB.

The Chairman of The Commission for ‘The Dissapeared’ and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Haris Azhar confirmed that this film will cause a stir internationally.

It is not just the theme, but the film also shows directly the immediate perpetrators from a still influential organisation. ‘This film will further show what really happened in the massacres of 1965,’ he said.

Comments of a similar tone came in the words of historian Asvi Warman Adam. He claimed The Act of Killing will further strengthen the evidence for the need for the formation of an ad hoc fundamental rights court for cases from 1965, as was recommended by the National Human Rights Commission last July.

He is certain that the film will change the view of the West in the context of the Cold War towards the events of 1965. ‘All this time western societies have claimed this (the massacres of the PKI) was evil but necessary’ said Asvi when contacted separately.

Internationally, [the crimes depicted in] this 115 minute film have been condemned by a number of groups. ‘I have not seen a film as weighty or frightening (as the Act of Killing) in the last decade,’ said Werner Herzog, a German actor, director and producer, as quoted on the site ‘The Act of Killing is shocking in the history of film’.

Errol Mark Morris, an American director, joined in condemnation [the crimes depicted in] The Act of Killing. In his opinion the film is an extraordinary portrait of the mass killings carried out by the Pemuda Pancasila.

In producing this film, Joshua was not alone. He worked on Jagal with Christine Cynn and a local director whose identity is concealed. This director claims to be a former student who joined the anti-Soeharto demonstrations in 1998.

The main figure in The Act of Killing is Anwar Congo. He is a former member of the Pemuda Pancasila and indeed admitted involvement in the massacres and [claimed] to be forced to carry out killings because he did not want to be killed.

Oppenheimer succeeded in asking Anwar and his associates to make a film about the experiences of their youth in which they much admired cowboy films, including at the moments when they exterminated PKI [followers].

Eventually, the film which was initially entitled Arsan and Aminah became a part of The Act of Killing. Ironically, up until now whilst Anwar was the main character [he] did not know that the film he was starring in was not Arsan and Aminah.

Anwar said that at the time he was prepared to appear in the film but requested that the film be shown after he had died. Anwar claims to worry following the screening of this film which tells the story of the PKI massacres direct from the perpetrators.

“Yes, [I] worry. I worry the people from that generation feel this or that,’ said Anwar to dozens of journalists from national and international organisations (Aljazeerah) in the offices of the North Sumatera Pemuda Pancasila Regional Leadership Committee, [on] Jalan Thamrin, Medan.

Anwar still held disappointment towards Joshua Oppenheimer. He said the American director never contacted him again. He judged that the film Joshua made was incomplete. “On the issue of legal steps, I will discuss with my legal advisor’, he continued.

“The film is only piecemeal. The director should have also told about the ulama and the Pemuda Pancasila members who were victims of the PKI” responded the Chairman of North Sumatera Pemuda Pancasila Regional Leadership Committee, Anuar Shah. According to Anuar Shah, [The] Act of Killing discredited the Pemuda Pancasila. He also did not want the film shown in North Sumatera. “To be honest I object if the film is unbalanced. If it is approved we will make our own film [showing] the truth,” he said.

The Chairman of the Pemuda Pancasila Branch Leadership Committee for the City of Bogor, Mohammad Benninu Argoebie, also spoke out. Whilst claiming to have closely scrutinised the controversial film, Ben still asked people to watch the film on Youtube and the cinema.

Ben said, it is better that society can think clearly and wisely when watching this film [about] the massacres. With regard to the involvement of the Pemuda Pancasila at the time of the PKI massacres, Ben confirmed this.

According to Ben, the Pemuda Pancasila had an important task in helping the Indonesian National Army (TNI) in eradicating the communist movement at that time. Despite this Ben did not have a problem if the film is shown in Bogor.

“The aims in the making in the film must also get serious attention. The government must closely watch this film. Because this film may become propaganda, stemming from the dislike of a number of groups towards the Pemuda Pancasila. Because at this time we are trying to create a positive image,’ he said.