The Look of Silence and The Future of Reconciliation


The Look of Silence or in Indonesia called Senyap is second documentary film of Joshua Oppenheimer. The film became controversial because of various government agencies and also among people in general have different point of view. National Commission of Human Right encourages the public to watch, but Board of Film Censor did not passed the film as worth watching publicly. Police on various occasions showed his opposition to the film, but media reported that the army  watched together. In the community itself, the views of the film are also split. Students and academic members in general would like to watch, but there are certain Islamic organizations who come to dismantle and unfortunately, police did not prevent it.

For those who are not directly involved with the events of the 1965 tragedy, especially the young generation, watching The Look of Silence is an emotional experience, because it opens a page of national history that had been full of mystery. Just as represented by the main character, Adi Syukur, young people invited to trace how and where the executors slaughtered millions of victims that were called as the communists. On the other hand, young people are also invited to determine whether in fact such of family of the victims who have been described as “scary” communists. They are, in fact, same as ordinary people, even life much poorer than the families of the executors.

The interesting phenomenon is when Adi Syukur, the main character in Silent movie, meet the executors who massacred Ramli, his brother. Adi felt that his brother was not guilty enough of being killed, so he went to the executor and hope the executors became aware, repent and apologize if possible. On the other hand, the executor none regret, even less say sorry. Even up to the time the film was made, they feel that the act of killing thousands of members of Indonesian Communist Party is a right decision.

The question that arises then is why both parties can not build reconciliation as long as advocated by various NGO organizations? One reason is that political friction in the 1960s had been manipulated to be an ideologies conflict. The perpetrator (executor, organizations that support army and New Order) produces a discourse that members of the communist are atheist (do not believe in God), cruel and using bad ways to defeat his opponent. The discourse was grown to be a belief which no longer can be changed by facts, no matter how many are given. On a same position, the victims (Indonesian Communist Party and its supporting organizations) sees the perpetrator as cruel, inhumane and unlawful.

If we look history little bit, Aidit (Chief of Indonesian Communist Party) provokes members of his Party to eliminate groups of people that called as “Seven Village’s Devils”. Can imagine how hard the political friction between the seven groups of people that are categorized as “village’s devils” and Communist Party and its mass organizations. “Called us as infidel just hurt, more over we are called as devil”.

Both sides discourses are reproduced until now, so as to close the possibility of reconciliation. An alternative solution is by restoring 1960s frictions as political frictions and not as ideological frictions. Historical research on the frictions are very important way to make new generation of Indonesian able to understand it more objectively. Research about Act No. 2 1960 on Production Sharing Agreements and Act No. 5 1960 on Agrarian Reform and its implementation in various regions is one of entrances gate that can be used to unravel the complexity of the frictions that happened in 1960s.

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