- Persisting silence: sexual slander, mass murder and The Act Of Killing
- Asian Journal of Women’s Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 20 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
With The Act of Killing (TAOK), Joshua Oppenheimer has produced a landmark film about the mass murders in Indonesia during 1965-67. His complex layered portrait of a number of killers in Medan, North Sumatra exposes the impunity of the killers. The idea that the Communist Party (PKI) had to be destroyed to save the nation and, to that end, hundreds of thousands of its members and affiliated mass organizations had to be destroyed and their members tortured, raped or imprisoned for many years is still widely believed in Indonesia. The film rose to great acclaim internationally. However, it has not made a major dent in the silence about the largest genocide in Indonesian history in the country. In this article, I argue that the relative indifference of the Indonesian public can be attributed to the enduring success of the sexual moral panic created by the military in their campaign of slander against the communist party.
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