Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros99Dossier 1965 and Cinema IIThe Treachery on YouTube: The Pol...

Dossier 1965 and Cinema II

The Treachery on YouTube: The Politics of Memory on New Media in Indonesia

La Trahison sur YouTube: politique de la mémoire dans les nouveaux médias indonésiens
Gilang Desti Parahita et Vissia Ita Yulianto
p. 47-73


Cet article traite du processus problématique de remédiation de la mémoire sociale sur et via YouTube, à propos du massacre de 1965/66 en Indonésie. Bien que ce soit un nouveau média et un lieu de contestation pour la mémoire vernaculaire du massacre de 1965/66, YouTube est aussi souvent utilisé pour promouvoir le récit Étatique, comme le montre la façon dont les utilisateurs de YouTube reproduisent chaque année le film Penumpasan Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (La trahison de G30S/PKI) pour faire valoir des visées anticommunistes, ainsi que la façon dont les cinéastes indonésiens intitulent leurs œuvres traitant du massacre de 1965/66. Plus largement, la mémoire monumentale de 1965/66 sur YouTube implique trois acteurs: les agents de l’État, les communautés cinématographiques et les milices.

Haut de page

Texte intégral


1Media, be it fiction (Suryajaya, 2015; Heriyati, 2015; Wirawan, 2015) or factual—documentaries (Paramaditha, 2013), journalistic reports (Parahita, 2014), as well as videos conveying alternative perspectives of the 1965/66 massacres—have been used to enhance social memories of 1965/66. Such media have been distributed through new media platforms, including YouTube (Espena, 2017; Ikhwan, Yulianto, Parahita, 2019).

  • 1 Jusuf (2016:12) notes that, between 2000 and 2011, 25 such films were released. More alternative fi (...)

2Owing to its capacity to offer different means of interpreting and remembering the trauma of modern Indonesian history, cinema has become part of the battle for history in Post-Soeharto Indonesia (Espena, 2017: 59). Arifin C. Noer’s film Penumpasan Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (The Eradication of the Treachery of the 30 September Movement/Indonesian Communist Party), more commonly known as Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI, has been widely propagated to produce an official memory of 1965/66 and its aftermath (Zurbuchen, 2002; Wieringa & Katjasungkana, 2019). However, since the collapse of Soeharto’s New Order in 1998, at least forty alternative films dealing with the 1965/66 massacre have been released.1 In the current digital era, the internet has been widely used to distribute films. As YouTube viewership in Indonesia is among the highest around the world (Katadata, 2018), the website has thus become one major locus of memory contestation (Ikhwan, Yulianto, Parahita, 2019). Within the context of the 1965/1966 Tragedy, both official and vernacular versions are available on YouTube.

3However, not much research has explored YouTube videos related to the 1965/66 tragedy within the context of the politics of memory. This study, therefore, asks how YouTube has interconnected with the politics of memory within the Indonesian state. How does YouTube reflect the politics of memory as a contested space and the dominance of certain social memories? Exploring Indonesia’s creation of social memories through YouTube is beneficial, as many countries have experienced similar traumas in the past and have used new media to contest such memories.

Literature review

The Politics of Memory and New Media

4The politics of memory refers to how political communities articulate, and hence gain recognition of, certain memories and narratives (Ashplant, Dawson & Roper, 2000: 12). It moves beyond the dichotomy of top-down and bottom-up approaches, as it operates within the intermediate space between the public (the State) and the private (the individual), an arena or socio-political space within which social actors seek recognition of their memories and channel their agency (Ashplant, Dawson & Roper, 2000:12–17). The battle for memory is waged over the meaning and “ownership” of symbols, academic conferences, commemorations, reunions, and rituals, as well as through conventional and new media (Ashplant, Dawson & Roper, 2000; de Brito, González-Enríquez & Aguilar, 2001).

5The politics of memory produces different expressions of memory and positions within society. Bodnar recognises two types of memory expression: official and vernacular (Marschall, 2010). Official memory is promoted by cultural leaders and authorities at all levels of society, driven by social unity and the attainment of societal and political goals to foster particular interpretations of the past that reduce the power of competing interests (Marschall, 2010:141). In official memory, the state holds the institutional power to influence how citizens remember and forget, often for nation building purposes (McGregor, 2016; Bijl, 2012; Sulistiyanto, 2007; Sturken, 1997; Bargueño, 2012). Meanwhile, vernacular memory is abundant and diverse, propagated by ‘ordinary people’ interested in protecting particular values and memories of their direct experiences with past events or narratives. It is predominantly developed at the local level in small-scale communities (Marschall, 2010: 141), often being created and contested through cultural production and education (Huyssen, 2011).

  • 2 The term was coined by Alison Landsberg (2008), who defined it as memories that disseminate through (...)

6Utilising technology, the state can create an official “prosthetic” memory2. Depending on the socio-economic power of the groups who produce and maintain memory, the state may transform official memory into monumental memory, something that is hegemonically produced and maintained through multiple possibilities, from “the word in stone” to the medium of film (Mitchell, 2003: 443). Censorship can provide a means of buttressing the official memory, being used to dictate the link between society, the filmed event, and its filmic representation (Stora & Stevens, 2007). As history is incorporated into popular culture and information and communication technology, memory can be created through media which allows a moment of the past to exist in the present (such as through biopics or documentary films) and flow freely between groups (Landsberg, 2008).

7YouTube has become a new site where people can record, share, exhibit, and retrieve memory, as well as mediatise artefacts over time and space (House & Churchill, 2008). Virtual memorials are able to augment the remembrance experience by cultivating fluid, interactive, and creative spaces that encourage high levels of participation, collaboration, and self-expression (Jones & Gibson, 2012). In the internet era, virtual memory has thus expanded beyond individual persons, spaces, institutions, and nation states, becoming a socio-technical phenomenon—one that is neither entirely social nor entirely technical (House & Churchill, 2008). Technological features work in tandem with larger cultural contexts. However, they are also subject to medium-specific constraints and thus contribute to the rapid obsolescence and disappearance of historical consciousness; they also tend to serve commercial and entertainment purposes, thereby nurturing a narcissistic amnesia (Haskins, 2007: 406).

8Monumentality, thus, can manifest in cyberspace and the information highway, thereby conquering both time and space but it might remain seamlessly connected with the existing traditional monuments (Huyssen, 2003: 47). Similarly, virtual knowledge on YouTube can result from the colonisation of memory by the private sector and by the developed world; if a memory has no commercial value, no one will bother preserving it. Consequently, vernacular knowledge and minority views—the records of small populations and information perceived as uninteresting and invaluable—are left out of digitisation processes (House & Churchill, 2008).

9The inequality of memory within the digital realm has been explored by Markotyrkh (2017:12), who found that YouTube has facilitated the remembrance of traumatic pasts by revealing Soviet, Russian, and Ukrainian interpretations of the Battle of Kiev, all of which are inclined to support unilateral perspectives and ignore alternative ones. Although alternative narratives are represented (unequally) on YouTube, Ukrainophone and Russophone users tend to utilise YouTube not to challenge national narratives of the past, but to disseminate and propagate these narratives online (Markotyrkh, 2017). By extension, alternative memories do not necessarily become monumental; official histories can be recreated in and dominate digital realms, receiving massive popularity due to the algorithms of economic power.

10Observing the use of YouTube as a medium, Knudsen & Stage (2012: 432) found that the website enables “democratized memory practice where official justifications of war are disputed and scrutinized via all sorts of discursive and affective investments.” As such, although global spaces such as YouTube enable the circulation and reproduction of collective memories in de-territorialised and transnational modes, they may also contribute to the strengthening of national, and indeed, nationalist memories (Drinot, 2011). This is exacerbated by the disparate starting points of monumental and vernacular memories. A Telekom advertisement in Germany, for example, cannot create monumentality in cyberspace without a national monument; it thus enlists the Brandenburg Gate to signify something “made in Germany” (Huyssen, 2003: 48).

The 1965/66 Killings in Indonesia and the State Politics of Memory

11In the 1960s, the largest communist party in the world outside of the Soviet Union and China was the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI/Partai Komunis Indonesia), which was then the fourth largest political organisation in the country, after the National Party of Indonesia (PNI/Partai Nasional Indonesia), the Masjumi, and the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) (McVey, 1965). Nevertheless, the party was annihilated between 1965 and 1966, and its followers and sympathisers, including left-leaning intellectuals, artists, workers, teachers, soldiers, and ordinary peasants, all fell victims. In the New Order regime that emerged afterwards, the official history—based on a book by Nugroho Notosusanto—justified these killings by identifying PKI and its supporters as having masterminded the killing of six generals during a failed coup (Herlambang, 2014).

12However, the claim is debatable; seeking an explanation for 30 September and its aftermath, scholars have put forth at least four alternative narratives about the killings of the generals. In an article popularly known as the “Cornell Paper”, Anderson and McVey (2009, initially published in 1966, see Kammen [2017]) argued that G30S represented a culmination of internal army conflicts. This is also supported by Cribb (1990), who wrote that political tensions between the Army and the PKI had increased in the last years of Guided Democracy—especially after Sukarno’s health became an issue. Crouch (2007) identified three possible drivers of the coup: military officers dissatisfied with army leadership, the PKI, or dissident army officers in conjunction with PKI collaborators. The narrative that President Soekarno was involved in the coup was presented by Fic (2004) and Dake (2006). Other studies have identified Soeharto as the initiator of the killings, as no other actor benefited more than him and he did nothing to prevent the attack (despite having the ability to pass intelligence reports to generals Ahmad Yani and A. H. Nasution; see Latief, 1999). Still others have speculated that the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had become involved as part of its ideological struggle with the Soviet Union and its allies (Scott, 1985; Wardaya, 2006). Such counternarratives, though prohibited officially, circulated in Indonesian academic and intellectual circles throughout the New Order regime.

13Adam (2018) identifies 1965/66 as having three phases—the prologue, the main event, and the epilogue—and argued that the epilogue (or impact) of G30S has continued into the present day. He describes the prologue as starting five years before 1965. In this, he departs from the New Order, which identified the prologue as having started with the Madiun Affair in 1948; Madiun was critical in this narrative, as it was used to argue that the PKI had betrayed the Indonesian Republic while it was fighting for independence. The main event was the killing of six generals on 1 October 1965, while the epilogue consisted of mass killings, discriminatory policies, and official histories of the main event.

14Despite Indonesia’s democratisation since 1998, the Soeharto regime’s official version of the 1965/66 mass killings remains monumental in Indonesia’s public memory (Budiawan, 2000, 2004; Adam, 2018). Even as new evidence from both survivors and perpetrators has enabled scholars to identify systematic patterns of violence across the Indonesian archipelago (Chandra, 2017; McGregor, Melvin & Pohlman, 2018; Hearman 2018), none of Indonesia’s post-New Order presidents have prioritised dealing with the past (Zurbuchen, 2002; Pohlman, 2016).

15Of the five presidents who have ruled Indonesia since Soeharto’s resignation—B. J. Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Soekarnoputri, Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Joko Widodo—only Abdurrahman Wahid (also known as Gus Dur) invited all Indonesians living abroad as political exiles to return, asked government ministers to take steps to restore the civil rights of former detainees and exiles, apologised for the mass slaughter of communists, and encourage citizens to expose the 1965 massacres and other incidents of human rights abuses (Zurbuchen, 2002). However, when Wahid called for an investigation into those killings and proposed rescinding the Decision of the Provisional People’s Consultative Assembly no. 25 of 1966 (TAP MPRS 25/1966), which banned the PKI, he faced immediate opposition from anti-communist groups—including NU, Indonesia’s largest Islamic group and an organisation in which he had cultural roots. As Zurbuchen notes (2002: 573), “the public process of coming to terms with the legacies of 1965 thus lost its earlier focus on recovering history and was readily subsumed within familiar polarizations: left vs. right, communism vs. Islam.”

16Certain social memories become dominant as a result of the politics of memory, be it practiced by state or non-state actors. In Indonesia, although current president (Joko Widodo) initially vowed to settle past human rights cases—including the 1965/1966 tragedy—the government has maintained the New Order’s narrative through monuments, ideologies, and school textbooks, as well as requirements to watch certain films at school (Putten, 2017; McGregor, 2016, McGregor, 2007; Zurbuchen, 2002). Even today, state histories identify the defeat of communism as the salvation of the nation, as well as the victory of religious values over dangerous foreign influences. Communists have been stigmatised as foreign, immoral, barbaric, and inherently dangerous (McGregor, 2016: 248).

17At the same time, however, the politics of remembering has been exercised by state and non-state actors. Some civil organisations have challenged attempts to revise the official history, including judicial, military, police, and Islamist institutions—all of which participated in the killings (McGregor, 2016; Fealy & McGregor, 2010). Moreover, civil society organisations have made efforts to promote truth and justice in post-Soeharto Indonesia, holding inclusive activities, using theological approaches, and sponsoring meetings mediated by young Islamist activists (Wahyuningroem, 2013).

18Nonetheless, these have faced significant resistance. For example, although the Indonesian government authorised a new history curriculum open to potential alternative discussions of 1965/1966, the Attorney General declared that books that did not use the acronym PKI (or G30S/PKI) to describe the Movement would be banned (McGregor, 2016). Similarly, since 2014, anti-communist groups have protested book launches, film screenings, and meetings of former political prisoners in Indonesia (McGregor, 2016). Meanwhile, NU threatened to sue Tempo after the magazine issued a special edition that featured confessions from NU executioners (McGregor, 2016).


19This research employs a mixed methods approach to analyse alternative memories of 1965/66 that have or have not been uploaded to YouTube. First, between 1–14 August 2018, we entered the keywords G30S (30 September Movement), Peristiwa ‘65 (‘65 Event), and Komunisme (communism) in the YouTube search bar and listed the 39 suggested videos that had received more than 300,000 views. This list predominantly consisted of scenes or full copies of Treachery; we found only 10 videos that provided alternative views of the events, and these were among the least popular (Ikhwan, Yulianto, Parahita, 2019). During the course of this analysis, we viewed more than 30 films with alternative narratives of 1965/66 (Appendices 1, Table 1), randomly selecting the titles from a list of films screened at the Memory and Marginalised Voices Film Festival held by Kineforum on 24 October 2015 (Utami, 2015). To supplement these films, we consulted works identified in previous research (Ikhwan, Yulianto, Parahita, 2019), as well as those mentioned in interviews conducted for this specific study.

20On 11 November 2019, we entered the keywords film PKI into the YouTube search bar; again, the six most widely viewed videos were copies of Treachery (Appendices, Table 2). Other videos perpetuating the dominant narrative of 1965 included scenes from Treachery as well as newly made videos presenting the voices of military museums and the descendants of the killed generals. To complement this analysis, we decided to analyse the top comments of the three most-viewed films on YouTube: Penumpasan Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (The Treachery of G30S/PKI), The Act of Killing (TAoK), and Kami Hanya Menjalankan Perintah, Jenderal! (We Only Follow Orders, General!, KHMPJ!).

  • 3 We interviewed I Gusti Ngurah Termana, the founder and coordinator of Taman 65 Bali; Dr Baskara T. (...)

21A review of the literature was used to identify past incidents and policies related to the commercial and non-commercial films about the 1965/66. We interviewed eleven informants, mostly filmmakers but also activists, in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Bali3. Analysis was qualitative, as the topic is resolutely impressionistic and thus unable to be understood through quantitative means (Kracauer, 1953: 640).

Fig. 1. Kami Hanya Menjalankan Perintah, Jenderal! (KHMPJ!) contains testimonies from former members of Cakrabirawa, the presidential security forces of Sukarno.

Fig. 1. Kami Hanya Menjalankan Perintah, Jenderal! (KHMPJ!) contains testimonies from former members of Cakrabirawa, the presidential security forces of Sukarno.

Findings and Discussion

22The first section discusses the socio-technical factors underlying the high viewership of Treachery, including the discourse strategies of alternative filmmakers and upload dates of political videos on YouTube. The politics of remembering, as practiced by alternative filmmakers and YouTube users, have interacted with Indonesia’s broader political and social tensions. Recognising that the state, filmmakers, civil society, and mass organisations have taken part in the memory politics of the country, the second section discusses how regulation, censorship, filmmaker agency, film festivals, and vigilante groups have shaped the memory of 1965/66 on YouTube.

The Monumental ‘Treachery’ on YouTube

23This study argues that the videos which appear on YouTube reflects the social and political situations in which the platform is operated and utilised. However, before further discussing the social and political contexts of observed YouTube videos, this section shows that the monumentality of Treachery on YouTube can be analysed from the fact that numerous versions have been uploaded, and that these versions tend to be popular (Appendices, Table 2). The six most-viewed versions of Treachery on YouTube have been seen by thousands, receiving more likes than dislikes; likewise, they have received thousands of supportive comments.

24The six most-viewed videos we found on YouTube are full copies of Treachery as released by its director, Arifin C. Noer. However, in many other videos (not listed in the Table), footage from Treachery is frequently re-uploaded or incorporated into new videos. Several have received millions of views. This can be seen, for example, in a talk show published by VisualTVLive entitled “Eksklusif! Kesaksian Anak Ahmad Yani atas Kejamnya G30S/PKI” (Exclusive! The Testimony of the Son of Ahmad Yani on the Cruelty of September 30 Movement/PKI” (uploaded on 29 September 2017, 4 million views). Videos offering alternative voices have received much lower viewership, as seen by the examples of Mass Grave (2001) (uploaded by dphotografer, 7,900 views), The Look of Silence (2014) (uploaded by Jagal Senyap, 707,000 views), and Jembatan Bacem (2013) (uploaded by Belajar Mandiri, 161,000 views).

25On YouTube, the monumentality of memory might be influenced by identity forces, commercial culture, temporal social media trends, and unclear hyper-textual narratives (Jones & Gibson, 2012; Horsti, 2017: 125; Huyssen:194). For example, being a spectator and creator of online video impacts on one’s national identity formation. The frequent uploads and remixes of Treachery show the influence of YouTube’s identity forces and commercial culture, which pushes and invites users to reuse existing video. The film has become prosthetic memory. Scenes of dark shadows and eerie tune of the conspirators in contrast to the bright houses of the Soeharto’s and generals in The Treachery lead to remembering 1965/66 as simply evil and secretive PKI versus the military (Putten, 2017:114). Usep Kartawibawa, who uploaded a copy of Treachery in 2011, provided a complete description of the film’s cast and crew. He also wrote that, although the movie was no longer broadcast on television, it still deeply affected anyone who watched it because “…the setting feels intense, the music score is terrifying, and the director smartly directs the casts to show firmness, sadness, anger, and sadism.”

  • 4 Interview with Ruth Indiah Rahayu, 29 May 2018.

26Despite the vernacular memory of 1965/66 being found on YouTube, as observed in the most popular videos related to the tragedy, the monumental memory on YouTube is limited to the events surrounding the generals’ killings. The complications and aftermath are ignored. This finding might be related to the tendency of the military and human rights activists to focus on different parts of the events. “I often watched discussions of 1965/66 on television that involved members of the military and human rights activists. Their talks concentrated on two different things: the military’s focus was on the days of the generals’ killings, while the activists [focused on the events] after October 11, after Berita Yudha wrote disinformation about the killings.”4

27Based on comparison of these six uploads of Treachery and two alternative videos (Kami Hanya Menjalankan Perintah, Jenderal!, KHMPJ!; uploaded by TV Dokumenter; 1.6 million views; uploaded on 18 July 2017), and TAoK (uploaded by Jagal Senyap; 1.9 million views; uploaded on 17 December 2013), it can be seen that the social memories on the September/October 1965 and its aftermath are highly contested on YouTube. Treachery continues to attract high levels of viewership. Meanwhile, despite many alternative narratives being available, only a few have received millions of viewers.

28On uploads of Treachery, most comments voiced condolences to the killed generals, reminded readers of the importance of maintaining Pancasila (the state ideology), condemned PKI either for killing the six generals or for practicing atheism, or recalled the Madiun Affair of 1948, in which the PKI was said to have killed devout Muslims and religious leaders. Some comments advocated the killing of people descended from PKI followers, arguing that this was necessary to totally eradicate communism.

29Although it must be recognized that, owing to its production during the New Order, Treachery has had more time to dominate Indonesia’s social memory, two socio-technical factors have also enabled it to become popular on YouTube. First, Treachery, its remixes, and other videos promoting the official narrative often refer to PKI with sensational keywords such as “violence” (keganasan), “brutality” (kebiadaban), “cruelty” (kekejaman), or “terrifying” (mengerikan) in their titles; similarly, emotional terms such as “sad” (menyedihkan) are used to refer to the children of the killed generals. These films’ provocative titles and hashtags, as well as their use of official terms such as G30S/PKI, make them more readily found by YouTube users.

  • 5 Interview with Ilman Nafai, 12 November 2019.

30Ironically, the use of such terms may also benefit alternative narratives; take, for example, a version of Jembatan Bacem uploaded by Belajar Mandiri under the title “Jembatan Bacem Film Dokumenter tentang Peristiwa 1965 [Awas Kiri] [Full Video] [Dokumenter]” (Bacem Bridge a Documentary about the 1965 Incident [Beware the Left] [Full Video] [Documentary], 161,000 views, uploaded on 11 July 2014). Similarly, the use of the word jenderal (general) in KHMPJ! may fit into YouTube’s algorithms, as the word is often used in the title of videos showing the six generals’ exhumation; indeed, KHMPJ! even trended on YouTube when it was first uploaded by an anonymous user5.

31Most videos promoting alternative narratives of 1965/66, however, employ metaphorical titles and non-sensational hashtags, focusing instead on the epilogue or the aftermath of the killings of the six generals (Ikhwan, Yulianto, Parahita, 2019). Only some of these titles refer explicitly to the camps that held political prisoners or other sites, such as Plantungan (Putu Oka Sukanta, Fadillah Vamp Saleh, 2011), Pulau Buru: Tanah Air Beta (Rahung Nasution, 2016), Tjidurian 19 (Abduh Aziz, Lasja F. Susatyo, 2009), and Jembatan Bacem (Yayan Wiludiharto, 2013); of these, the first two could not be found on YouTube.

Fig. 2. Jembatan Bacem reports testimonies from the families of lost persons in Central Java during 1965/66. Bacem bridge in Solo, Central Java is believed to be a place where some PKI followers/symphatizers were shot to death.

Fig. 2. Jembatan Bacem reports testimonies from the families of lost persons in Central Java during 1965/66. Bacem bridge in Solo, Central Java is believed to be a place where some PKI followers/symphatizers were shot to death.

32Shortly, because alternative filmmakers do not use binary or confrontational words in the titles or descriptions of their films, Treachery has retained its position as the monumental memory of the 1965/66 tragedy on YouTube. To find alternative narratives, users must have prior knowledge and information on the films or on the 1965/66 event itself. KHMPJ! and TAoK, for example, received widespread media coverage and were subject to controversy, granting them greater public recognizability.

33Second, remembering requires momentum. The fact that most popular videos were uploaded in the months of September and October indicates that the uploaders realise that they will reach broader audiences if they upload videos on or about Pancasila Sanctity Day. They recognise that, as Pancasila Sanctity Day is held annually on 1 October to commemorate the killing of the generals, people are more likely to search for related videos on YouTube (McGregor, 2002).

34The six most-viewed versions of Treachery on YouTube were mostly uploaded in 2017, at a time when popular debate focused on whether it was necessary to continue screening the film to prevent the resurgence of communism in Indonesia. For example, General Gatot Nurmantyo of the Indonesia National Army (TNI) recommended that local army offices conduct public screenings of the film, despite the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia having previously prohibited compulsory screenings for students (KumparanNews, 2017). President Joko Widodo, who had often been denounced as communist by his political opponents—particularly Islamist hardliners—watched the film together with soldiers at Makorem, Bogor, in September 2017 (Rahmawaty, 2017). Two national networks, TVOne and SCTV, even broadcast the film in late September 2017; both got high ratings (Lubis, 2017; Irfani, 2019).

35Also common in 2017 was the use of terms such as “communism” and “PKI” to attack political opponents, most prevalently in Jakarta’s gubernatorial election and in national politics (Parahita, 2017; Jaya, 2017; SMRC, 2017). These attacks, as well as widespread rumours of a communist resurgence, further sharpened the political divide between supporters of President Joko Widodo and his 2014 opponent Prabowo Subianto (Aspinall & Mietzner, 2019: 112). In this context, fear of communism and the momentum of the 1965 tragedy could be exploited for commercial and political benefit (Laksono, 2017; Bawaslu, 2014; KPI, 2019).

  • 6 Taman 65 is a grassroot forum established by some local Balinese to voice the repressed memories of (...)

36Conversely, none of the videos presenting alternative narratives of the 1965/66 tragedy utilised the momentum of Pancasila Sanctity Day, as they were not uploaded between the end of September and early October. This may be related to the political stance of the survivors and human rights activists. For example, I Gusti Ngurah Termana—the founder of Taman 65 in Kesiman, Bali—stated that they avoid commemorations in September and October because these transitional dates belong to the army not survivors.6 Those films that have received relatively high viewership, namely TaOK (2012) and KHMPJ! (2016), may have done so because of media coverage. For example, TaOK had received two prizes at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival and covered by the global media before it appeared in Indonesian media.

Social Memories of 1965/66, the State and the Agency of Cinema Communities

37Although the state may have officially declared which history and memory of 1965/66 is true, the experiences of survivors’ families are legion. As stated by I Gusti Ngurah Termana:

  • 7 Interview with I Gusti Ngurah Termana on 6 May 2018.

I found that no one understands this extreme pain… my tears, my laments, my stories… who cares? … I had thought that it was better buried here (pointing at his heart), but I finally realized that it was wrong… If I keep it, then it is my burden forever… not only for me, but also my whole family, my children.... Of course, my grandmother was deeply sad when we set up this memorial right in front of her rebuilt house. Digging up the past means burning her with sorrow. … Yes, this extended discrimination is really evil… but to the point we tell lies to ourselves? To our family members? My grandfather was killed by one of his own family members, my grand-uncle (with a flat voice). … We should start to be truthful now, to break the silence… be truthful about our own history, our family histories. I don’t care about the government’s history.7

  • 8 Interview with former commissioner of LSF 2015–2019 Rommy Fibri, on 1 January 2019, and former comm (...)
  • 9 Interview with Lexy Rambadetta, 30 May 2018.
  • 10 Interview with Faiza Marzuki, 14 November 2019.
  • 11 Interview with Dwidjo U. Maksum, 17 November 2019.

38The uploading and provision of alternative memories, despite the monumentality of Treachery, is similar to Termana’s efforts to create alternative memorialisation and remembrance in his home, to break his silence and communicate his pain. Although such acts may invite protests, this only strengthens the alternative voice. For example, although Indonesia’s Film Censorship Body (Lembaga Sensor Film) refused to allow TLoS to be screened at Indonesian festivals,8 its appearance on YouTube has given it another means to reach wider audience. Indeed, our observations showed that YouTube has offered filmmakers—no matter their motivations—a way to reach broader audiences than possible with film festivals. This was also mentioned by Lexy Rambadetta, the director of Mass Grave (2001), who said that he deliberately distributes his films related to 1965/66 through YouTube (using the account Jakartanicus) because the website is the most popular video-sharing platform in Indonesia9. A similar idea was also mentioned by Faiza Marzuki, the director of a filmed theatrical performance titled Silent Song of the Genjer Flowers (2015).10 As she put it, “Having my theatrical performance uploaded to YouTube let it reach more remote audiences, though my drama was originally written (under the title ‘Nyanyi Sunyi Kembang-Kembang Genjer’) and performed for an on-location audience”. Her video depicts heartily conversations between Rakhma and her grandmother in a livingroom. Rahma is curious about the life of her grandmother who was actively involved in women’s movement in her youngest years and she found the truth in the conversations. Meanwhile, Dwidjo U. Maksum uploaded his film Air Mata di Ladang Tebu (Tears in the Sugarcane Field, 2019) to YouTube as he could not access commercial theatres.11 This drama movie taps the story of a man who returns from exile and how he is accepted by his ex-fiancée and neighbours.

39In this context, it should be noted that—unlike the monumental Treachery, which is merely uploaded to YouTube or remixed in new uploads—vernacular memories are created from new materials. To remediate vernacular social memories of 1965/66 on YouTube, film communities have exercised their agency despite relatively strict regulation and threats from local vigilantes. The state, through the Film Censorship Body (LSF/Lembaga Sensor Film) and Article 18, Paragraph 3b of Government Regulation No. 7/1994, clearly prohibits content that promotes communism and/or Marxism/Leninism. However, such censorship only applies to films that are screened theatrically or televised, rather than those screened privately or to limited audiences.


Fig. 3. Izinkan Saya Menikahinya (Let Me Marry Her) won the best fiction at FFP 2016. The relationship between two lovers must end since the woman is suspected to have familial relations with former members/followers of PKI while the man is a member of the army.

Fig. 3. Izinkan Saya Menikahinya (Let Me Marry Her) won the best fiction at FFP 2016. The relationship between two lovers must end since the woman is suspected to have familial relations with former members/followers of PKI while the man is a member of the army.
  • 12 Ruth Indiah Rahayu (a columnist, feminist, historian, and human rights activist) has rejected argum (...)
  • 13 Interview with I Gusti Ngurah Termana, 6 May 2018.

41As of writing, YouTube content or channels have never been intentionally blocked by the Indonesian government—despite the authoritarian leanings of Law No.11 of 2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions. However, the Ministry of Communication and Information is permitted to block certain YouTube content or channels, as it has done with other online platforms (citing hate speech and pornography) (CNNIndonesia, 2019; Untari, 2019). In addition, the teaching of history at schools has not changed much, even though Indonesian millennials have a great desire to learn12. A study conducted by Tika Savitri shows that high schools students are more interested in learning about this tragedy from alternative media, in this case a filmed theatrical performance entitled MWATHIRIKA (Savitri 2018)—even though teachers (in Yogyakarta, for example) are reluctant to use alternative films as learning media (Pratiwi, 2016). As stated by I Gusti Ngurah Termana, “Our community struggles not only to disclose the dominant memory but mainly to reveal the ignorance about 1965/66 events. They even do not know what PKI actually was or the controversy surrounding it.”13

  • 14 Interview with Hanung Bramantyo, 13 October 2019.
  • 15 Interview with Hanung Bramantyo, 13 October 2019.
  • 16 Gie received eleven Citra Awards at the 2005 Indonesian Film Festival. In this, it surpassed Pengkh (...)

42Before the massive influx of the internet and threats from local vigilantes, two routes were used to present alternative narratives and create vernacular frames. First, alternative narratives were presented through commercial films and theatrical releases during the early 2000s. According to Hanung Bramantyo, the director of Lentera Merah (Red Lantern, 2006) and Legenda Sundel Bolong (The Legend of Sundel Bolong, 2007) the earliest years of Indonesia’s political reform offered creative professionals the greatest freedom to circulate media (books, films) about the 1965/66 tragedy. Although Bramantyo’s films were motivated by personal aspiration, his agency was also supported by commercial producers’ willingness to support such films.14 “When filming Gie (2005), military troops—the Diponegoro Mobile Brigade—even protected the shooting sites, and lines of cameos hoisted the PKI flags,” he narrated.15 Importantly, however, Gie (2005, directed by Riri Reza) did not represent the massacre itself. It was a biopic about Soe Hok Gie, a young political activist; and never explicitly explored the organised massacre (Lee, 2011: 327).16 Meanwhile, although the song Genjer-Genjer—associated with the PKI—was allowed to appear in the film, a line including the title was cut by LSF.

  • 17 Interview with Lexy Rambadetta, 30 May 2018.
  • 18 Interview with I Gusti Ngurah Termana, 8 May 2018.

43Second, non-commercial films (both documentaries and works of fiction) were exhibited in film festivals or in limited public screenings. In early 2000’s, Mass Grave (2001) was distributed in VCD format—despite high costs—and screened at many Indonesian campuses by students and cinema communities (with the notable exception of Udayana University, Bali)17. Mass Grave (2001) was screened at Taman 65, Bali, even though the Balinese people were afraid of discussing the tragedy. Ngurah Termana recalled that, when Taman 65 screened Mass Grave (2001) in the mid-2000s, audience members fled from the venue when they heard words such as “PKI” or the song “Genjer-Genjer”.18

  • 19 According to Janet Deneefe, “We cancelled the panels because we were told that, if we continued to (...)
  • 20 On 17 December 2014, LPPM Sintesa, a study group at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, G (...)
  • 21 Interview with Hanung Bramantyo, 13 October 2019.

44In recent years, however, screenings of films presenting alternative narratives have faced more threats and intimidation from local vigilantes. In 2015, a planned screening of The Look of Silence, as well as related discussions at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) faced objections and pressures from local authorities; it was ultimately cancelled19. Meanwhile, screenings of We Only Followed Orders, General! (Ilman Nafai, 2016) and Pulau Buru: Tanah Air Beta (Rahung Nasution, 2016) at the Purbalingga Film Festival were swarmed by people dressed in Islamic garb (Iswinarno, 2016). Screenings of TLoS at Gadjah Mada University, the Indonesian Institute of Art, and the Yogyakarta office of the Alliance of Independent Journalists were cancelled because of protests from mass organisations20. “If I were asked to make a film dealing with 1965/66 today, I would think twice, because people are now more willing to attack others who have different views,” said Hanung21.

  • 22 Hanung Bramantyo was also inspired by Cabinet Caligary, the first horror film in the world. He chos (...)

45Despite this threat, filmmakers derived agency from their interactions with survivors as well as extant books and films. Commercial filmmakers such as Hanung Bramantyo had studied about the history communism in Indonesia long before the fall of Soeharto. Despite having been raised in a strongly Islamic family, Hanung Bramantyo had learned about this chapter of Indonesia’s history and incorporated his knowledge in his non-commercial film Topeng Kekasih (2001). He identified the 1965/66 tragedy, as well as the deadly riots that precipitated Soeharto’s resignation in 1998, as some horrific cases of violence in Indonesian history; he thus used horror to convey the terror of these incidents.22

  • 23 Interview with Lexy Rambadetta, 30 May 2018.

46Non-commercial filmmakers, meanwhile, have generally been motivated by direct interactions with survivors or human rights activists, and supported by cinema communities. Lexy Rambadetta, the director of Mass Grave (2001), has concentrated on social justice issues—especially the 1965/66 tragedy—since the fall of Soeharto; he learned of the opportunity to record the exhumation of PKI followers’ bodies in Kebumen, Central Java, after meeting some former members of Gerwani (a women’s organisation associated with PKI). According to Lexy, the issue of 1965/66 remained sensitive in the early 2000s. However, many survivors began asserting their identities. Lexy met Sulami, Sulastri, Sumarni, and Putmainah—all survivors of 1965/66—as well as several former Gerwani members. Through conversations with them as well as some feminists, he learned to criticise the singular truth of 1965/66 (and patriarchal culture in general) and that Gerwani had never performed the ‘Dance of Fragrant Flowers’ (Tarian Harum Bunga). Learning of an exhumation from Sulami, he travelled to Kaliwiro Village, in Wonosobo, Central Java, to record the process.23

  • 24 Interview with Lexy Rambadetta, 30 May 2018.
  • 25 Interview with Ari Yurino, ELSAM Programme Officer, 30 May 2018, as well as local people along the (...)
  • 26 Interview with Dwitra J. Ariana, 16 November 2019.

47According to Lexy, this exhumation was sponsored by Danielle Gouze, the wife of former French President Francois Mitterrand.24 Meanwhile, Jembatan Bacem (2013, Yayan Wiludiharta) and Masean’s Message (2016, Dwitra J. Ariana)—both alternative narratives—were supported by the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM). Jembatan Bacem (literally, Bacem Bridge) documented a rare pilgrimage of victims’ families to Bacem Bridge in Solo, Central Java, where more than 70 people were executed; their bodies were subsequently dumped in the river.25 Meanwhile, Masean’s Message received Rp 35 million in funding from ELSAM. 26

  • 27 Interview with Alexander Matius, 15 November 2019. In late October 2015, Kineforum at the Jakarta A (...)
  • 28 Interview with Janet Deneefe, 12 October 2019.

48Film festivals have become the main venues for alternative 1965/66 social memories to reach, attract, and engage audiences, as festival managers and audiences recognise the importance of these films. Alexander Matius, the coordinator of the Memory and the Marginalized Voices Film Festival (which was fully supported by the Jakarta Arts Council) says that the event was organised to denounce the state’s failure to recognise and apologise for past violence.27 Film festivals conducted outside Jakarta have also offered significant mediums for young, local, and talented filmmakers to articulate and represent complex local issues, and even to promote trauma healing in Indonesia (Irawanto & Octastefani, 2019; Kurnia, 2018). Janet Deneefe, the above-mentioned director of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, acknowledged that festivals have become one of Indonesia’s most important platforms for discussing global issues and ideas. “With its fifty-year anniversary, and as one of the most tragic events in recent times, it was important to commemorate ‘65 during the Festival as part of the healing process.”28

  • 29 Interview with Bowo Leksono, 17 November 2019.

49Similarly, Bowo Leksono, the founder of Cinema Lovers Community (CLC) and Film Festival Purbalingga (FFP), urged young participants to produce films based on their interests and concerns, up to and including the 1965/66 tragedy. “Students are generally unfamiliar with 1965/66. Schools do not teach the subject fully. Therefore, before they produce their films, they conduct research. CLC supports their discussion and equipment,” said Bowo.29 The local government has subsidised the film festival, but not CLC’s filmmaking activities. As such, Ilman Nafai (born in 1999) used his own pocket money to cover the cost of producing his documentary KHMPJ!. In such a situation, the capacity to remember and remediate the past through cinema and other media depends significantly on the socio-economic power of the groups who produce and maintain them (Mitchell, 2003).

  • 30 Izinkan Saya Menikahinya tells the story of a woman who cannot marry her fiancé, a member of the ar (...)

50In 2016, Ilman’s film, together with Raeza Raenaldy Sutrimo’s film Izinkan Saya Menikahinya (Let Me Marry Her), received the Indonesian Film Appreciation Award at FFP. Both films have been made available by CLC Purbalingga on its YouTube account30. Another film dealing with Indonesia in 1965 and 1966, Firman Fajar Wiguna’s film Sum won Best Documentary at the 2018 Purbalingga Film Festival. It follows Suminah, a former member of the Indonesian Peasants Front (BTI/Barisan Tani Indonesia), a PKI-affiliated mass organization (Baqiroh, 2018).

  • 31 Interview with Ilman Nafai, 16 November 2019.
  • 32 Interview with Ilman Nafai, 16 November 2019.
  • 33 Interview with Ilman Nafai, 12 November 2019.
  • 34 Interview with I Gusti Ngurah Termana, 8 May 2018 and with Ruth Indiah Rahayu, 29 May 2018.

51Before writing the script for KHMPJ!, which conveyed testimonials from three former members of Batalyon I Cakrabirawa, Ilman read Kesaksian Soebandrio tentang G30S (Soebandrio’s Testimony on G30S) and other documents.31 “I wanted to create a movie that could be contrasted with the mainstream story about 1965/66,” explained Ilman.32 Through his filmmaking activities and his interactions with survivors, Ilman modified his previous prosthetic memory. He had once believed that PKI were sadistic atheists, but gained new perspectives that differed significantly from those taught in school and by Treachery.33 Cinematic attempts to enliven and propagate alternative memories of 1965/66 thus offer not a means of remembering a forgotten past, but acknowledging a past that has been covered up and slanted.34


52Cinema has been a tool for keeping the 1965/66 tragedy spilling over into and being present in Indonesian public discourse, enabling the state-sponsored version of the 1965/66 killings be reinforced. At the same time, however, YouTube has offered a platform for both sharing official memory and contesting it with alternative vernacular memories. This study has found that Treachery has become a monumental memory on YouTube, as evidenced by its viewership, its high number of likes, the positive tone of comments, its regular uploads, and its remixing into new videos.

53YouTube, despite popularly being perceived as a means of channelling and sharing the past, is actually recreating the monumentality of Treachery. For decades, this film has offered a prosthetic memory, becoming monumental not only through its official status but also through the activities of the communities who commemorate and enliven it. As shown by Landsberg (2008: 150), prosthetic memory has the unique ability to generate the empathy necessary to form political alliances and solidarity despite being indebted to commodification and mass culture.

54Treachery’s commodification and mass culture have resonated with YouTube. As such, the platform has not promoted vernacular memory, but rather brought past fears and propaganda into the present. As stated by van der Putten (2017: 2013), Treachery continues to instil new generations of Indonesians with “a sense of terror towards and ignorance of communism.” Conversely, even though vernacular social memories of 1965/66 are available on YouTube and provide tremendous alternative memories, one must have prior knowledge to connect with these alternative videos.

55The politics of the present play a much more significant role in shaping monumental memory than do political communities’ experiences of the past (Danforth & Boeschoten, 2012: 247). On YouTube, the politics of the present related to 1965/66 revolve around cinema communities, the political communities of memories, state regulations, and contemporary political tensions. At the same time, YouTube algorithms favour certain dates and keywords. These socio-technical factors have all contributed to monumentality and vernacularity. It might be true that for generation Z and younger millennials in Indonesia, watching 1965/66 on YouTube is not about contesting memories, but conquering fear towards and unknowingness of communism.


56This study was funded through a collaborative research grant from the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM). For this, they have our gratitude. We would also like to express our appreciation to Venda Pratama, from the Department of Anthropology, UGM, who was actively involved in our discussions and meticulously assisted us in collecting data.


Table 1. List of Alternative Movies Related to 1965

(Source: Utami (2015), Baqiroh (2018), Ikhwan, Parahita, Yulianto (2019) and our own interviews/observations)



(Directors/Release Year/Duration)

Genre (Topic)

Modes of Exhibition

(YouTube views/ upload year, if any)


Puisi Tak Terkuburkan/Unburied Poem (Garin Nugroho/1999/86 mins)


(survivor’s testimonial)


(1,300 views/24 March 2019)


Mass Grave

(Lexy Junior Rambadeta/ 2001/26 mins)


(Exhumation of victims’ remains)

Limited public

(8,000 views/ 2016)


Bunga dan Tembok/Flower and Wall (Yayan Wiludiharto/2003/36 mins)


(Survivors looking for justice)

Limited public (766 views, 2013)


Terlena: Breaking of a Nation (Andre Vltchek/2004/84 mins)


(Suharto’s dictatorship)

Festivals, DVD


Djedjak Darah: Surat Teruntuk Adinda/Traces of Blood: A Letter for Adinda (M. Aprisiyanto/2004/12 mins)


(a local artist taken away on 1965)



Klayaban/Wandering (Farishad Latjuba/2004/15 mins)

Fictional (interpersonal reconciliation)


Kawan Tiba Senja: Bali Seputar 1965/Twilight Friends: Bali in 1965 (Kuntjara Wimba P./2004/43 mins)


(testimonials of survivors)


(821 views/2017)


Kado untuk Ibu/Gift for Mother (Ruwekso Setiadi/2004/24 mins)


(testimonials of survivors)


(1,380 views/2014)


Gie (Riri Riza/2005)


(about Soe Hok Gie)

Major cinemas, festivals


Rantemas (B. W. Purbanegara/2006/21 mins)


(a killing site)



Menyemai Terang dalam Kelam/ Sowing Light in the Dark (IGP Wiranegara/2006/65 mins)


(testimonials of survivors)


(8,153 views/2014)


Lentera Merah (Hanung Bramantyo/ 2006)


(female ghost)

Major cinemas, Festival

(4,000 views/2011)


Legenda Sundel Bolong/Legend of Sundel Bolong (Hanung Bramantyo/ 2007/91 mins)


(female ghost)

Major cinemas



Tumbuh dalam Badai/Growing in the Storm

(IGP Wiranegara/2007/50 mins)


(testimonials of survivors)

Festivals, limited public



Perempuan yang Tertuduh/Accused Woman (Lilik Munafidah/2007/36 mins)


(testimonials of former Gerwani members)




Seni Ditating Jaman/The Art that Will Not Die (Putu Oka Sukanta, Lilik Munafidah, Hendro Sutono/ 2008/40 mins)


(testimonials of former LEKRA members)

Festivals, limited public


Tjidurian 19 (Abduh Aziz, Lasja F. Susatyo/2009/36 mins)


(profile of LEKRA)

Festivals, limited public


40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy (Robert Lemelson/2009/86 mins)


(testimonial of survivors)

Festivals, internet

(2,400 views/2019)


The Women and the Generals (Maj Wechselmann/2009/32 mins)


(testimonials of former Gerwani member)

Festivals, limited public

(778 views/ 2013)


Sang Penari/The Dancer (Ifa Isfansyah/2011/111 mins)

Fictional, Novel Adaptation

(Story of Ronggeng Dancer)

Major cinemas, limited public

(997,000 views/2011)


Mwathirika (Puppet Papermoon Project/ 2012/ 20 mins)


(Puppet show)

Limited public



The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer/2012/159 mins)


(testimonials of killers)

Festivals, limited public, internet

(2 million views/2013)


Jembatan Bacem/Bacem Bridge (Yayan Wiludiharto/2013/30 mins)


(killing site)

Festivals, limited public

(163,000 views/ 2014)


The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer/2014/99 mins)


(testimonials of killers)

Festivals, limited public (723,000 views/2015)


Surat dari Praha/Letter from Prague (Angga D Sasongko/2015/94 mins)

Fictional, novel adaptation

(intergenerational reconciliation)

Major cinemas, festivals


Masean’s Message (Dwitra J. Ariana/2016)


(exhumation of victims)

Festivals, limited public, internet


Izinkan Saya Menikahinya/Please Let Me Marry Her

(Raeza Raenaldy Sutrimo/2016/ 9 mins)



Festivals, limited public

(3,700 views/ 2017)


Nyanyi Sunyi Kembang-kembang Genjer/Silent Song of the Genjer Flowers (Faiza Marzuki/2016)

Filmed theatrical performance

(intergenerational trauma)

Festivals, YouTube

(6,600 views/2014)


C’est La Vie (Ratrikala B Aditya/2017)




Kami Hanya Menjalankan Perintah, Jenderal!/We Only Follow Orders, General! (Ilman Nafai/2017/12 mins)


(Testimonials of survivors)

Festivals, YouTube

(1.7 million views/2017)


Road to Justice (Lexy Rambadetta/2017)


(reconciliation process)

Limited public, YouTube


Melawan Arus/Against the Current (Eka Saputri/2018)


(Injustice, slander)

Festivals, limited public


Sum (Firman Fajar Wiguna/2018)


(testimonials of former BTI member)



Air Mata di Ladang Tebu/Tears in Sugar Cane Fields (Dwidjo U Maksum/2019)



Limited public

(11,000 views/ 2019)

Table 2. Titles of Six Most-Viewed Copies of Treachery on YouTube

(Search conducted 11 November 2019 with the keyword #filmpki)


YouTube Title

Uploader (Subscribers)

Date of Upload

Number of Views, Comments, Likes, Dislikes



FILM G30S/PKI (HD) VERSI ASLI - Kwalitas Gambar BENING (Satu2nya di Youtube Kwalitas BAGUS)

Viral Update


9 October 2017

6.8 million views, 11,300 comments, 72,000 likes, 3,900 dislikes






PENGKHIANATAN G 30 S/PKI - part 2 of 3

Usep Kartawibawa


12 October 2011

6 million views, , 4,400 comments,

18,000 likes, 2,600 dislikes

No hashtags



Hendra Ahya (13,300)

24 September 2017

2.1 million views, 4,200 comments, 22,000 likes, 1,300 dislikes

No hashtags



Mas Mugi


28 September 2018

1.2 million views, 850 comments, 7,700 likes, 754 dislikes

No hashtags



tvMu Channel


30 September 2017

1.8 million views, 1,700 comments, 12,000 likes, 4,000 dislikes

No hashtags


FILM G 30 S PKI 1984 full 4:33 jam tanpa dipotong

Apple Win


26 September 2017

818,000 views, 1,200 comments, 9,100 likes, 350 dislikes

No hashtags

Source: Authors

Haut de page


Adam, A. W. (2018). “Beberapa catatan tentang historiografi Gerakan 30 September 1965” (Dossier the aftermath of 1965: an Indonesian perspective). Archipel, 95, 11–30.

Anderson, B. R. O’G, & McVey, R. T. (2009). A preliminary analysis of the October 1, 1965 coup in Indonesia. Jakarta: Equinox Publishing. (Reprint of the 1966 publication.)

Ashplant, T. G., Dawson, G. & Roper, M. (2000). “The politics of memory and commemoration: contexts, structures and dynamics”. In T. G. Ashplant, G. Dawson, & M. Roper (eds.). Commemorating War: The Politics of Memory. London: Routledge.

Asmaning, T. (2014). “Teror fasisme di pemutaran Senyap di UGM” (Facist terror during a screening of Senyap at UGM).

Aspinall, E. & Mietzner, M. (2019). “Southeast Asia’s troubling elections: nondemocratic pluralism in Indonesia”. Journal of Democracy, 30 (4), 104–118.

Baqiroh, N.F.A.B. (2018). “Film berlatar tragedy 1965 menang di Festival Film Purbalingga 2018” (Film based on the tragedy of 1965 wins the 2018 Purbalingga Film Festival).

Bargueño, D. (2012). “Cash for genocide? The politics of memory in the Herero Case for reparations”. Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 26 (3), 394–424.

Baqiroh, N.F.A.B. (2018). “Film berlatar tragedy 1965 menang di Festival Film Purbalingga 2018”.

Bawaslu (2014). “Remotivi: TVOne, Metro TV dan MNC Group jadi media partisan” (Remotivi: TVOne, Metro TV and MNC Group become partisan media).

Bijl, P. (2012). “Colonial memory and forgetting in the Netherlands and Indonesia”. Journal of Genocide Research, 14 (3–4), 441–461.

Brito, B. de, González-Enríquez, C. & Aguilar, P. (2001). “Introduction”. In The Politics of Memory: Transitional Justice in Democratizing Societies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Budiawan, (2000). “When memory challenges history: Public contestation of the Past in Post-Soeharto Indonesia”. Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science, 28 (2), 35–57.

Budiawan (2004). Mematahkan pewarisan ingatan wacana anti-komunis dan politik rekonsiliasi Pasca-Soeharto. (Breaking the chain of anti-communist memory and reconciliation politics after Soeharto) Jakarta: ELSAM.

Chandra, S. (2017). “New findings on the Indonesian killings of 1965–66”. The Journal of Asian Studies, 76 (4), 1059–1086.

CNN Indonesia (2019). “Kebebasan di era Jokowi dan jerat lima pasal panas UU ITE”. (Freedom in the Jokowi era and five tangled articles in the ITE Law).

Cribb, R. (1990). The Indonesian killings of 1965–1966: studies from Java and Bali. Melbourne: Monash University Press.

Crouch, H. (2007). The army and politics in Indonesia. Jakarta: Equinox Publishing

Dake, A. C. A. (2006). The Sukarno file, 1965–67: chronology of a defeat. Leiden: Brill.

Danforth, L. M. & Boeschoten, R. V. (2012). Children of the Greek Civil War: refugees and the politics of memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Detiknews. (2014). “Pemutaran film Senyap dibubarkan ormas, Rektor UGM hentikan intimidasi” (Screening of the film Senyap dispersed by mass organization, UGM Rector stops intimidation).

Drinot, P. (2011). “Website of memory: The war of the Pacific (1879–84) in the global age of YouTube”. Memory Studies, 4 (4), 370–385.

Espena, D .M. (2017). “Remembering 1965: Indonesian cinema and the ‘Battle of History’”. Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia 53 (1), 39–65.

Fic, V. M. (2004). Anatomy of the Jakarta Coup, October 1, 1965. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.

Haskins, E. (2007). “Between archive and participation: Public memory in a digital age”. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 37 (4), 401–422.

Fealy, G. & McGregor, K. (2010). “Nahdlatul Ulama and the killings of 1965–66: Religion, politics, and remembrance”. Indonesia, 89, 37–60.

Hearman, V. (2018). Unmarked graves: death and survival in the anti-communist violence in East Java, Indonesia. Singapore: NUS Press.

Heriyati, N. (2015). “Translating pain: women’s struggle in their everyday life after G30S tragedy as represented in Putu Oka’s Istana Jiwa”. Proceedings of the 3rd Literary Studies Conference: The 1965 Coup in Indonesia, Questions of Representation 50 Years Later.

Horsti, K. (2017). “Communicative memory of irregular migration: The re-circulation of news images on YouTube”. Memory Studies, 10 (2), 112–129.

House, N. V. & Churchill, E. F. (2008). “Technologies of memory: Key issues and critical perspectives”. Memory Studies, 1 (3), 295–310.

Huyssen, A. (2011). “International human rights and the politics of memory: Limits and challenges”. Criticism, 53 (4), 607–624.

Huyssen, A. (2003). Present pasts: Urban palimpsests and the politics of memory. California: Stanford University Press.

Huyssen, A. (1996). “Monumental seduction”. New German Critique, (69), 181–20.

Ikhwan, Y., Yulianto, V.I., Parahita, G.D. (2019). “The contestation of social memory in the new media: A case study of the 1965 killings in Indonesia”. Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 12 (1), 3–16.

Irawanto, B. & Octastefani, T. (2019). “Film documenter sebagai katalis perubahan sosial studi kasus Aceh, Ambon dan Bali” (Documentary films as catalysts of social change: case studies of Aceh, Ambon and Bali). Jurnal Kawistara, 9 (1), 107–119.

Irfani, F. (2019). “Kok bisa film G30S/PKI ditayangkan lagi oleh SCTV dan TVOne?” (How could the film G30S/PKI be broadcast again by SCTV and TVOne?)

Iswinarno, C. (2016). “Pembubaran Film Buru bukti ketakutan yang tak perlu”. (Dispersal of the film Buru proof of unnecessary fear).

Jaya. (2017). “Distorsi komunikasi pembangunan pemerintahan Presiden Jokowi di media social” (The Joko Widodo regime’s distortion of development communication on social media). Jurnal Ilmu Komunikasi, 14 (2), 259–276.

Jones, S. & Gibson, L. (2012). “Remediation and remembrance: “Dancing Auschwitz” collective memory and new media”. Journal for Communication Studies, V(2), 107–131.

Jusuf, W. (2016). “Remembering Indonesia’s 1965 killings in film”. Media Asia, 43 (1), 10–13.

Kammen, D. (2017). “World Turned Upside Down: Benedict Anderson, Ruth Mcvey, and the ‘Cornell Paper’”. Indonesia 104, 1–26. (2018, February 1). “Ini media sosial yang paling sering digunakan masyarakat Indonesia” (These are the social media most often used by Indonesian citizens). Databoks,

Knudsen, B. T. & Stage, C. (2012). “Online war memorials: YouTube as a democratic space of commemoration exemplified through video tributes to fallen Danish soldiers. Memory Studies, 6 (4), 418–436.

KPI. (2019). “Metro TV dan Grup MNC klarifikasi keberimbangan dan netralitas siaran” (Metro TV and the MNC Group clarify balance and neutrality in broadcast).

Kracauer, S. (1953). “The challenge of qualitative content analysis”. Public Opinion Quarterly, 16 (4), 631–642.

Kumparan. (2017). “Pemutaran dan penghentian film G30S/PKI” (The screening and stopping of the film G30S/PKI).

Kurnia, N. (2018). “Young, creative and independent: Cinema Lovers Community Purbalingga and its strategies to enliven independent filmmaking in Indonesia”. In L. Lim and H.K. Lee (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Cultural and Creative Industries in Asia. London: Routledge, 296–308.

Laksono, D. D. (2017). “TVOne, Drama Turki, dan PKI” (TVOne, Turkish dramas, and PKI). Retrieved from

Landsberg, A. (2008). “Prosthetic memory: The ethics and politics of memory in an age of mass culture”. In P. Grange (ed.). Memory and Popular Film. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 144–161.

Latief, A. (1999). Pledoi kolonel A. Latief: Soeharto terlibat G30S (Statement from colonel Latief: Soeharto involved in G30S.) Jakarta: Institut Studi Arus Informasi.

Lubis, U. (2017). “Ternyata banyak anak menonton film Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI”. (Turns out plenty of children watched the film Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI).

Lee, D. (2011). “Images of youth: on the iconography of history and protest in Indonesia”. History and Anthropology, 22 (3), 307–336.

Makhortykh, M. (2017). “Remediating the past: YouTube and second world war memory in Ukraine and Russia”. Memory Studies, 1–16.

McVey, R. T. (1965). The rise of Indonesian communism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Marching, S. T. (2017). The end of silence: accounts of the 1965 Genocide in Indonesia. Leiden: Amsterdam University Press.

Marschall, S. (2010). “Commemorating the ‘Trojan Horse’ massacre in Cape Town: the tension between vernacular and official expressions of memory”, Visual Studies, 25 (2), 135–148.

McGregor, K., Melvin, J., & Pohlman, A. (2018). The Indonesian genocide of 1965: Causes, dynamics and legacies. Palgrave Macmillan: London.

McGregor, K. (2016). “Cold War scripts”. South East Asia Research, 24 (2), 242–260.

McGregor, K. E. (2013). “Memory studies and human rights in Indonesia”, Asian Studies Review, 37 (3), 350–361.

Mitchell, K. (2003). “Monuments, memorials, and the politics of memory”. Urban Geography, 24 (5), 442–459.

McGregor, K. E. (2002). “Commemoration of 1 October “Hari Kesaktian Pancasila”: a Post-Mortem Analysis?”. Asian Studies Review, 26 (1), 39–72.

Möckel-Rieke, H. (1998). “Introduction: media and cultural memory”. Amerikastudien / American Studies, 43 (1), 5–17.

Muhajir, A. (2015). “Kronologi pembatalan diskusi 1965 Ubud Writers Readers Festival”. (Chronology of the cancellation of the 1965 discussion at the Ubud Writers Readers Festival).

Parahita, G. D. (2014). “Hegemonic and counter-media frames of the unsolved past tragedy”. Proceedings of the Asian Conference on Culture and Social Studies (IAFOR), Osaka, Japan. Retrieved from

Parahita, G. D. (2017). “Voters (dis)-believing digital political disinformation in the Gubernatorial Election of DKI Jakarta, 2016–2107”. Jurnal Ilmu Sosial dan Ilmu Politik, 22 (2), 127–143.

Paramaditha, I. (2013). “Tracing frictions in The Act of Killing”. Film Quarterly, 67 (2), 44–49.

Pratiwi, K. (2016). “Respon guru sejarah sekolah menengah atas wacana alternatif tragedi kemanusiaan 1965” (A middle school history teacher responds to alternative discourses of the 1965 tragedy). Retorika: Jurnal Ilmu Humaniora Baru, 4 (1), 13–33.

Putten, J. van der (2017). “A nation in a state of suspended disbelief: the construction and unravelling of the Indonesian massacres of 1965–66 as a site of memory”. In J. van der Putten, M. Arnez, E.P. Wieringa & A. Graf. Traditions Redirecting Contemporary Cultural Productions, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 99–126.

Rahmawaty, L. (2017). “Presiden Jokowi nobar film G30S/PKI di Makorem Bogor”. (President Jokowi joins others to watch the film G30S/PKI at Makorem Bogor). Antara.

Rudiana, P. A. (2017). “Festival Film Dokumenter 2017: Antara mencari kebenaran atau realitas”. (2017 Documentary Film Festival: between looking for truth and reality).

Sabarini, P. (2016). “The Silent Song of Gender Flowers: against despair through storytelling”. The Jakarta Post.

Savitri, T. (2018). “Memaknai sejarah 1965 melalui video MWATHIRIKA” (Giving historical meaning to 1965 through the video MWATHIRIKA), Master thesis, Performance and Visual Arts Programme, Universitas Gadjah Mada.

Scott, P. D. (1985). “The United States and the overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967”. Pacific Affairs, 58 (2), 239–264.

SMRC. (2017). “Isu kebangkitan PKI, sebuah penilaian publik nasional”. (Rumours of PKI’s resurgence: national public judgment)

Stora, B. & Stevens, M. (2007). “Still fighting”. Intervention, 9 (3), 365–370.

Sturken, M. (1997). Tangled memories: the Vietnam War, the AIDS epidemic, and the politics of remembering. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Suryajaya, M. (2015). “Masalah 1965 dalam representasi artistik dan ideologi estetis”. (The problem of 1965 in artistic representation and aesthethics ideology). Proceedings of the 3rd Literary Studies Conference: The 1965 Coup in Indonesia, Questions of Representation 50 Years Later.

Untari, P.H. (2019). “KPI bisa blokir konten porno di YouTube dan TV Online”. (Indonesian Broadcasting Commission able to block pornographic content on YouTube and Online TV)

Utami, E. (2015). “Potret tragedy 1965 dalam film” (Portrait of the 1965 tragedy in film).

Wahyuningroem, S.L. (2013). “Seducing for the truth and justice: Civil society initiatives for the 1965 mass violence in Indonesia”. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 32 (3), 115–142.

Wandita G (2014) “Preman nation: watching The Act of Killing in Indonesia”. Critical Asian Studies, 46 (1), 167–170.

Wardaya, F. B. T. (2006). Bung Karno menggugat!: Dari marhaen, CIA, pembantaian massal ’65 hingga G30S (Bung Karno accuses!: from Marhaen, CIA, ‘65 mass killing until the September 30 Movement). Yogyakarta: Galangpress Group.

Wieringa, S. E. & Katjasungkana, N. (2019). Propaganda and the genocide in Indonesia: imagined evil. Oxon: Routledge.

Wirawan, Y. (2015). “Cerpen berlatar peristiwa 1965 dalam Koran Kedaulatan Rakyat 2012–2015” (Short stories with a 1965 background in the Kedaulatan Rakyat daily, 2012–2015). Proceedings of the 3rd Literary Studies Conference: The 1965 Coup in Indonesia, Questions of Representation 50 Years Later.

Zurbuchen, M.S. (2002). “History, memory and the ‘1965 Incident’ in Indonesia”. Asian Survey, 42 (4), 564–581. f

Haut de page


1 Jusuf (2016:12) notes that, between 2000 and 2011, 25 such films were released. More alternative films are found on YouTube (Ikhwan, Yulianto, Parahita, 2018). See Appendices, Table 1.

2 The term was coined by Alison Landsberg (2008), who defined it as memories that disseminate through mass culture and are acquired by people who have not a live experience of the events.

3 We interviewed I Gusti Ngurah Termana, the founder and coordinator of Taman 65 Bali; Dr Baskara T. Wardaya, the head of the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies at Sanata Dharma University; Ruth Indiah Rahayu, a columnist, historian, feminist, and human rights activist; Lexy Rambadetta, who produced Mass Grave; Ratrikala Bhre Aditya, the producer and director of C’est La Vie (an independent film screened at the Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival); Ari Yurino, program officer at ELSAM; Hanung Bramantyo, the director of Topeng Kekaksih (Lover’s Mask), Lentera Merah (Red Lantern), and Legenda Sundel Bolong (The Legend of Sundel Bolong); Dwitra J. Ariana, the director of Masean’s Message; Alexander Matius, the manager of the #50tahun 1965 Film Screening; Ilman Nafai, the director of Kami Hanya Menjalankan Perintah, Jenderal!; Janet Deneefe, the director of the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival; Faiza Marzuki, scriptwriter and drama director of The Silent Song of the Genjer Flowers; Bowo Leksono, the founder of Cinema Lovers Community of Purbalingga and the Purbalingga Film Festival; Dwidjo U. Maksum, the director of Air Mata di Ladang Tebu; Rommy Fibri, former commissioner of LSF and M. Nur Khoiron former commissioner of Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM).

4 Interview with Ruth Indiah Rahayu, 29 May 2018.

5 Interview with Ilman Nafai, 12 November 2019.

6 Taman 65 is a grassroot forum established by some local Balinese to voice the repressed memories of participants and enable them to talk about their missing relatives and share the testimonials of family members. The forum often invites filmmakers, musicians, and English-language educators to create dialogue among members. Ngurah, the coordinator of Taman 65, says that survivors focus not on 30 September or 1 October, but the end of 1965 and subsequent years. (Interview with I Gusti Ngurah Termana, on May 8, 2018). Similarly, Dr Baskara T. Wardaya, the head of the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies at Sanata Dharma University and a researcher focused on 1965/66 (as well as reconciliation efforts), suggests that activities countering mainstream discourses should be limited because survivors’ stories start in the weeks after the events (Focus Group Discussion, 11 April 2018).

7 Interview with I Gusti Ngurah Termana on 6 May 2018.

8 Interview with former commissioner of LSF 2015–2019 Rommy Fibri, on 1 January 2019, and former commissioner of Komnas HAM, Muh. Nur Khoiron (who applied for the censorship), on 4 January 2019.

9 Interview with Lexy Rambadetta, 30 May 2018.

10 Interview with Faiza Marzuki, 14 November 2019.

11 Interview with Dwidjo U. Maksum, 17 November 2019.

12 Ruth Indiah Rahayu (a columnist, feminist, historian, and human rights activist) has rejected arguments that Indonesian millennials are ignorant and uninterested in Indonesia’s modern history, feminism, or social movements. Citing her experiences with students, she argues that the problem is not millennials, but the methods used to teach history. Visual media may be more readily accepted by millennials, but textual literacy is prioritised. Despite Indonesia’s old-fashioned approach to teaching history, some students were asked to interview her about 1965/66. Among the questions asked is, Do you think the event of 1965/66 has ruined the nation of Indonesia?” (Interview with Ruth Indiah Rahayu, 29 May 2018).

13 Interview with I Gusti Ngurah Termana, 6 May 2018.

14 Interview with Hanung Bramantyo, 13 October 2019.

15 Interview with Hanung Bramantyo, 13 October 2019.

16 Gie received eleven Citra Awards at the 2005 Indonesian Film Festival. In this, it surpassed Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI, which had only received Best Screenplay at the 1985 Indonesian Film Festival.

17 Interview with Lexy Rambadetta, 30 May 2018.

18 Interview with I Gusti Ngurah Termana, 8 May 2018.

19 According to Janet Deneefe, “We cancelled the panels because we were told that, if we continued to hold them, the Festival would not be granted a permit. Everyone in Indonesia knows that the authorities will suddenly close down events without the correct paperwork, if they choose. So we had to think of the bigger picture—we believed that, for all our paying guests, we had an obligation to guarantee the smooth running of the Festival and not a sudden cancellation. Our actions focused on the greater good. In the end, 1965 was discussed in so many panels, so the cancellation actually drew more attention to this issue. It became the most important subject for that year, and international press also wrote about it, after hearing about the UWRF’s dilemma.” (Interview with Janet Deneefe, 18 November 2019).

20 On 17 December 2014, LPPM Sintesa, a study group at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Gadjah Mada University, scheduled a screening of The Look of Silence. However, the organising committee faced intimidation from a local civil society organisation as well as police pressure (Asmaning, 2014). Similar persecution was experienced by the Yogyakarta Institute of Art and the Yogyakarta Chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI, Asosiasi Jurnalis Independen) (Detiknews, 2014).

21 Interview with Hanung Bramantyo, 13 October 2019.

22 Hanung Bramantyo was also inspired by Cabinet Caligary, the first horror film in the world. He chose to integrate 1965/6 into the film’s narrative, arguing “Horror itself is about terror, not ghosts”. Interview with Hanung Bramantyo, 13 October 2019.

23 Interview with Lexy Rambadetta, 30 May 2018.

24 Interview with Lexy Rambadetta, 30 May 2018.

25 Interview with Ari Yurino, ELSAM Programme Officer, 30 May 2018, as well as local people along the river banks.

26 Interview with Dwitra J. Ariana, 16 November 2019.

27 Interview with Alexander Matius, 15 November 2019. In late October 2015, Kineforum at the Jakarta Arts Council held a film festival titled “Memory and the Marginalized Voices” to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 incident (Utami, 2015).

28 Interview with Janet Deneefe, 12 October 2019.

29 Interview with Bowo Leksono, 17 November 2019.

30 Izinkan Saya Menikahinya tells the story of a woman who cannot marry her fiancé, a member of the army, because during the pre-marital administrative process, he finds out that she has family members related to PKI.

31 Interview with Ilman Nafai, 16 November 2019.

32 Interview with Ilman Nafai, 16 November 2019.

33 Interview with Ilman Nafai, 12 November 2019.

34 Interview with I Gusti Ngurah Termana, 8 May 2018 and with Ruth Indiah Rahayu, 29 May 2018.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1. Kami Hanya Menjalankan Perintah, Jenderal! (KHMPJ!) contains testimonies from former members of Cakrabirawa, the presidential security forces of Sukarno.
Fichier image/jpeg, 108k
Titre Fig. 2. Jembatan Bacem reports testimonies from the families of lost persons in Central Java during 1965/66. Bacem bridge in Solo, Central Java is believed to be a place where some PKI followers/symphatizers were shot to death.
Fichier image/jpeg, 104k
Titre Fig. 3. Izinkan Saya Menikahinya (Let Me Marry Her) won the best fiction at FFP 2016. The relationship between two lovers must end since the woman is suspected to have familial relations with former members/followers of PKI while the man is a member of the army.
Fichier image/jpeg, 120k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Gilang Desti Parahita et Vissia Ita Yulianto, « The Treachery on YouTube: The Politics of Memory on New Media in Indonesia »Archipel, 99 | 2020, 47-73.

Référence électronique

Gilang Desti Parahita et Vissia Ita Yulianto, « The Treachery on YouTube: The Politics of Memory on New Media in Indonesia »Archipel [En ligne], 99 | 2020, mis en ligne le 02 juin 2020, consulté le 21 juillet 2024. URL : ; DOI :

Haut de page


Gilang Desti Parahita

a communication scientist and assistant professor at the Department of Communication Science at the Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Her research projects mainly cover a range of topics within new media and marginalised communities as well as digital journalism. Her current projects include “citizenship and social inclusion” and “safety in journalism.” She can be contacted at

Vissia Ita Yulianto

PhD, is a socio-cultural anthropologist. She is the author of Reframing Modernities in Contemporary Indonesia: Ethnographic Studies on Center and Periphery in Sulawesi and Java (Regiospectra, 2015). She works at the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies, and teaches at the Graduate Program of Performance and Visual Art Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Email:

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur


Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-ND 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

Haut de page
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search