The international conference as well as exhibition titled “ Indonesia and the World 1959-1969: A Critical Decade” was opened yesterday afternoon (18/01). Before the opening ceremony took place, some students from Gerakan Pemuda Islam (Islamic Youth Movement) and Persatuan Pelajar Islam (Islamic Student Association) protested the event in front of Goethe Institute building, Jl. Sam Ratulangie, Central Jakarta. They demanded the Goethe Institute to stop the event. One of the orators even demanded the demobilization of PKI. “Down with PKI!” he said, followed by other protestors.
Another incident also took place. The author of the book Economists With Gun, Bradley Simpson who was also the speaker in his book launch in Goethe was brought to the police station and was interrogated by the local police regarding his immigration documents. The exhibition and conference, which was planned to continue until January 21st was filled with tension.
Some prominent figure gave opening speeches in the opening of the conference. Letjen (Purn) Agus Widjojo who is also the son of the Revolutionary Hero Mayjen (Anumerta) Soetojo Siswomihardjo in his speech stressed how urgent it is to create distance with the 1965 event although it will be difficult to do so. “It will not be easy for the party involved to create distant and see the pass events from the current perspective with a certain degree of detachment,” he said.
According to Agus, some sacrifices are needed from every related party so that the event that has passed for over forty years could be regarded in the correct proportion. Agus wanted to see the matter in a more objective and balanced way by putting PKI and the Army as the major actors that caused the tragedy that happened 46 years ago.
While Mardiyah Chamim from the Tempo Institute in the opening ceremony of the exhibition said that one of the effort to understand the event that took place on 1959-1969 is one of the most crucial phase before we could make peace and heal our historical wound. “ The exhibition, we hope, could give contribution in building the understanding regarding the political stages in Indonesia and the world, in the most tumultuous time in the history of Indonesia,” said she.
Same with Mardiyah, Agus Widjojo also thought that one of the most important things needed to be done so that the reconciliation could go well is the ability to see the incident with a deeper perspective without the myth surrounding it. “The readiness to enter the reconciliation process needs a total obliteration of the myth that the“status” of the victim only belongs to one part and the cause of the violence was the other party,” he said.
The opening ceremony of the exhibition and the international conference was attended by the Director of the Goethe Institute Jakarta, Frans Xavier Agustin, Director of FES Indonesia, Erwin Schweisshelm, senior journalist Aristides Katoppo, several historian such as Asvi Warman Adam, Hilmar Farid and Baskara T. Wardaya. The conference will continue until January 21, 2011.