Indonesia remains unable to resolve, ignore or forget the multiple issues related to its violent past. Denials and repression of the issues have been the standard strategy. This has been responsible, at least in part, for the tendency to view the rise of Islamisation in an ahistorical fashion and the failure to recognise and control the legacies of past violence and impunity that has spilled into contemporary politics.
Bersiap is only part of a bigger story of mass violence during the 1940s. The latter itself is part of a bigger story of centuries-old colonialism and decolonialisation. What makes Bersiap slightly distinct is its absence in the official histories of both the Netherlands and Indonesia.
Indonesia’s was the first case of successful formal decolonization through the UN. It inspired several other former colonies. But why has there been no celebration for such important history achievement in Indonesia? Why has it been almost entirely ignored?
As French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu said, “cultures are those what goes without saying”. To ask why Amrozy and the police should smile is almost like asking why English speaking people always open an official letter with the greeting ‘Dear ….’, even if this is a letter of very serious complaint or protest.
There are two common misconceptions about hoaxes. First, although the word “hoax” is a relatively new term in the Indonesian lexicon, it would be wrong to assume that hoaxes have only become a problem over the past few years, with the rise of social media. Second, hoax news cannot be resolved or debunked simply by providing accurate information as an alternative, especially when nothing is done about the primary hoax.
George will be fondly remembered as one of Indonesia’s most radical political critics, public intellectuals and investigative journalists. His audacity, passion, dedication and uncompromising commitment to political advocacy were second to none among his peers.