Category Archives: Surat

A Brief Discussion About the 1965 Executioners

Laurens Bakker, my co-supervisor sent me an email from Macau, a link of a documentary about 1965 killings.  He wrote :

just found another one by Al-Jazeera. Interviews are interesting, I was struck by the lack of regret of the killers.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9oebCcE6-k

I have seen that video, and I replied:

Yes I saw it already. I can ‘understand’ why he (the Balinese old man and Anwar Congo who used to be an executor in 1965-1965 mass killings) did not show any regret. He (Anwar) and his interests as a gangster was personally threatened by Communist youths prior to the killings. His hatred was merged and fuelled with propaganda from the military at that time that said the PKI as the traitor of the nation. With the cruel and brutal images of the party continuously spread by the military, it could be understood that he felt that  what he did was right.

The movie shows however, that sometimes he felt guilty as well, and he (also another guy, his friend named Adi) tried to find a justification, otherwise, as they themselves said, could be insane because of the conflict in their mind

Laurens replied:

yes, you’re right in that. Quite probably realizing -or doubting- at some point that such killings were wrong, would be horrible for one’s state of mind. Similar things have been recorded for nazi killers. Makes me wonder how official state executioners cope. Can’t be an easy job even with justification. When are you off to Indonesia?

I then added:

Yes, that kind of situation. Many viewers do not have the background of the whole story, the propaganda of the military, the conflict between the religious groups and the communist prior to the killing, therefore that lack of knowledge easily  leads to the condemnation to people like anwar . It can be understood since the movie does not give significant background of the socio political facts surrounding the killings.
if you see the movie, then watch the scene when the two (Anwar and Adi) were fishing in a pond. Adi said to anwar, more or less, about his doubts regarding the issue of immorality of the Gerwani, and the truth of the propaganda spread by the Army. He kinda said that perhaps they , the executioner were crueler than the people that they killed. Ardi later on said that it is the government’s task to ask forgiveness. But on the other occassion, the movie also show how defensive he was when he was asked the probability of being brought to Den Haag (although it is, theoritically impossible).