My parents were Dutch. That makes me Dutch also; but I am Indonesian-born – a country which a Dutch writer, Multatuli, named: ‘The Emerald Girdle’. Multatuli was famous for his satirical novel ‘Max Havelaar’, which denounced the abuses of colonialism in the Dutch Indies.
I left this ‘Emerald Girdle’ an eternity ago, yet carried in my memory it’s beauty and the sweetness of her people. I’ve been Canadian longer than I’ve been Dutch; and even longer since I’ve been allowed the beauty of the ‘Emerald Girdle’ – more than a lifetime ago. Despite those cruel and bitter World War II years, I remained attached to the land where I was born.
That is, until now.
Until I was told about the 1965/1966 killing of more than a million alleged Communist Indonesians, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. A bone-chilling documentary ‘The Act of Killing’ created by the young movie director Joshua Oppenheimer that won the 2014 best Documentary Bafta Award: http://theactofkilling.com/trailer.
This is a film impossible to ignore. ‘The Act of Killing’ has been viewed by many – even millions of Indonesians. The Government and anti-communist organizations continue their attempts to stop its distribution, but in our age of multi-media, this seems impossible. The Indonesian people committed mass murders and rejoiced in the act, while once again the rest of the world did not pay much attention. Like the Japanese before them, the Indonesians did not consider their actions crimes – admitting no guilt; admitting no responsibility, in their massacre of innocent after innocent.
Oppenheimer’s work effectively shattered my rooted attachment to the land of my birth. It’s a chilling and heartbreakingly cruel documentary that has stilled and closed all memories of the cherished beauty and loveliness around my young experiences on the island of my birth. I had always defended the character and identity of the Indonesian people. But Oppenheimer has forever changed my opinion. The more I delve deeper in the history of the 1965/1966 mass murders, the farther I feel the ‘Emerald Girdle’ fade away; and it’s people, the way I remembered them, disappear in a distant mist of disappointed pain.
Will this international attention cause Indonesia to break its silence and help it to come to terms with its past?
Will Indonesia be forced to deal with the ‘human rights’ in its country?
Will this end MY disillusion and regret for having lost what I thought unique and free of ugliness and evil?
If you’re interested, this Documentary is out on both DVD and Blu-ray and more can be followed on Facebook and Twitter: www.imdb.com/title/tt2375605.