Film shows Indonesian death squad leaders re-enacting massacres

July 23, 2013

Act of Killing

A new film, ‘The Act of Killing,’ has recently been released which shines a light on the brutal killing of up to a million Indonesians by military and paramilitary forces from 1965. The killers were backed by the United States and led by General Suharto who would go on to rule Indonesia for decades.

Not only have none of the murderers been brought to justice, the film reveals that today many of the killers are celebrated as heroes. They are the same people who are responsible for the brutal atrocities that continue in West Papua to this day.

The director, Joshua Oppenheimer, spent more that eight years interviewing the Indonesian death squad leaders, and has created an extraordinary work which gets in to the heart and minds of those who are able to commit such horrific acts. While the musical numbers, dancing girls and cowboy scenes give a rather surreal tone to the film, the material presented shows just how perverse the culture of glorification of violence and murder has been, and continues to be, in the Indonesian military.

We highly recommend you watch this fascinating and harrowing film but want to emphasise that this is not a work of history. The brutal acts of the last several decades continue today in West Papua. Despite claims to the contrary, the Indonesian military remains a deeply corrupt and blood thirsty institution whose mentality and practices have not changed since the Suharto era.

An interview with the film director can be seen here.

The official film website is here.