30 September 1965

Fifty years ago, a major coup took place in Indonesia, putting Suharto in power as president of the nation, and instigating a mass slaughter of suspected communists.  It was an important – and too often under acknowledged – part of Indonesian and global history.

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It’s really been since the fall of Suharto in 1998 that any clarity has come to the whole situation, and yet the whole thing is still largely misunderstood.

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There have been some important movies made on the subject, perhaps most famous being The Act of Killing.

And I’ve always loved the Peter Weir film with Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver, The Year of Living Dangerously.

This month, the Cornell University Southeast Asia Program (SEAP) has put together a month long symposium – Observing the Silence:  Remembering 1965 – to explore, discuss, and better understand the magnitude of this event and tragedy, both politically and culturally.

Included in this symposium are a number of different film screenings, both fictional and documentary, attempting to document this time in Indonesian history.

And then of course different lectures, including one by art historian Kaja McGowan focusing on the memorial created by the Indonesian government, Labung Buaya.

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