Indonesia: Ex-political prisoners stage plays to survive stigmatization

[Though this description of the 1965 events and massacre are re-packaged, and carefully cleansed of the CIA role; and the scale of the mass murder was much greater, this article from the Indonesian press does raise the largely unrecognized impact on a million political prisoners from that time, seen through the experience of elderly survivors. — Frontlines ed.]

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Saturday, 06/30/2012

The commemoration of the abortive coup blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) is still a few months away, but former political prisoners always remember Sept. 30, 1965, as the day that changed their lives. Following the attempt, which claimed the lives of six Army generals, the Indonesian Military, with the help of mass organizations, prosecuted anyone thought to have links with the PKI. The precise number of fatalities has been disputed, but some put the number as high as 500,000. Those who survived the massacre lived with the stigma of communism and lost their civil rights. One of them, Nani Nuraini, is now 71 years old.

“Even though we are now aged and frail, we still keep smiling and fighting,” said Nani, who claims she has just been fighting for her rights. At the Central Jakarta District Court in 2008, she won the right to a lifetime identity card just like any other elderly citizen. In April, however, the same court rejected her request for rehabilitation.

She was arrested in 1968 and sent without trial to Bukitduri Women’s Penitentiary in South Jakarta for seven years, simply because, at a young age, she had performed as a presidential palace dancer at the party’s anniversary gathering in June 1965. Nani has lived with the stigma of being an ex-political prisoner and communist sympathizer ever since. Continue reading