People Want East Timor Massacre Movie Banned, Indonesian Military Says

The Indonesian Armed Forces said on Friday that it expected everyone to respect the decision of the Film Censorship Institute (LSF) to ban the Australian film ‘Balibo,’ claiming that the people had voiced their decision through the censors. “It has been banned by the LSF. The institute is the people’s voice. So let us respect the people’s voice,” Army Chief Gen. George Toisutta said. Speaking after inaugurating Brig. Gen. Paulus Lodewijks as the new commander of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus), Toisutta stressed the Army supported fully the LSF decision because they saw it as the wish of the people. “We respect the LSF, we respect the people’s voice,” he said. Ezki Suyanto, a member of the Alliance of Independent Journalists’ (AJI) committee council, which screened the movie at the Utan Kayu Theater on Thursday, questioned the military’s logic. “If the movie hasn’t even been screened yet, how could the public demand that the government ban it?” she asked. She learned that Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik and some officials were invited by the LSF to watch the movie, “but is that what they call ‘the people’?” she said. The fact that at least 300 people attended the screening on Thursday night, she added, suggested that not everyone wanted the film banned. She said she had queried some of the audience at Thursday’s screening and none of them said anything to discredit the army. “It’s just an ordinary movie and some said many parts of the movie were embellished,” she quoted some viewers as having said. Ezki said defying the government was not the intent of the alliance. “We simply want to tell the public that the movie does not in any way discredit the Indonesian Armed Forces. There is a lesson here, especially for journalists.” Jero said the movie did discredit Indonesia and its military and could reopen old wounds between Indonesia, East Timor and Australia. “For the sake of the country, the movie is not fit for playing in theaters. The movie is political,” he said. The film tells the story of five journalists killed when Indonesian troops took over the border town of Balibo in East Timor in October 1975. A sixth journalist died weeks later when Dili was invaded by Indonesian forces. Indonesia says the journalists were killed in a crossfire but an Australian coroner’s inquest in 2007 found that the five were killed deliberately by Indonesian forces, prompting the Australian Police to launch an official investigation into the incident two months ago. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said the probe was a backward step and could harm bilateral ties. Agus Sudibyo from the Science and Aesthetic Foundation (SET), a media watchdog, urged the LSF to explain the ban. “They must explain to the Indonesian public why they ban certain movies.”

Recommended Posts :