Preman Nation

Watching The Act of Killing in Indonesia

Author: Galuh Wandita | Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)


On a balmy night in November 2012, I watched The Act of Killing (TAOK) with about fifty survivors of the 1965 killings gathered from all over Sulawesi in the dusty town of Palu, Central Sulawesi. The morning before, these survivors, now aged 70 and above, boarded two rickety buses to visit some thirteen sites around the town where the detainees were forced to work on various projects, from building a dam, doing road work, and erecting the province's first TV broadcasting tower. Lucky for us, we had a poor copy of Jagal (the Indonesian title of TAOK; lit. "Butcher") that resulted in a lot of interruptions. In those moments, with lights back on to fiddle with the DVD player, the spectators took time to look at each other and reassure themselves that they had not been transported back into time.

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