Jakarta – A video appearing to commemorate Indonesia's 74th Independence Day has been under fire from activists and internet users, who are slamming it for being insensitive and historically inaccurate.
As a result of the criticism, Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf) head Triawan Munaf, who along with many others posted the 59-second video on social media, issued an apology.
Making the rounds on social media over the weekend, the video illustrates a timeline of historical Indonesian events that the narrator, speaking in auction terms, describes as "a bidding to divide" the nation after the country's independence in 1945.
Actress-turned-politician Kirana Larasati also posted the video on her Twitter account @_kiranalara on Thursday last week.
"Ladies and gentlemen [...] the bidding starts," the narrator says in the video. "OK, first bidder. In 1948 we have the PKI [Indonesian Communist Party], anyone else? OK, the bid increases in 1950, we have the South Maluku Republic."
The South Maluku Republic (RMS) was a separatist movement set up by former Ambonese soldiers in the Koninklijk Nederlandsch Indisch Leger (KNIL) – the Dutch colonial Army.
The narration continues to mention a number of tragedies and separatist movements in Indonesia, ranging from the 1965 failed coup blamed on the now-defunct PKI, the Free Aceh Movement in 1976 and the Tanjung Priok tragedy in 1984, to the May 1998 riots and the 2019 post-election protests in Jakarta.
"And even today, there are many who wish to divide the nation, but hopefully, our price for a united Indonesia can never be bargained," the narrator goes on, as the video ends with "Dirgahayu (long live) Indonesia".
Human rights activists and historians slammed the video for being inappropriate and insensitive to the survivors and the families of victims of the events.
The 1965 tragedy, the Tanjung Priok incident and the murders of students and disappearances surrounding the events in 1998 have been categorized as cases of gross human rights violations in the past, with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo having previously promised on the campaign trail to settle these issues.
Historian JJ Rizal said the video was full of historical inaccuracy and insensitive toward the lives lost in the incidents mentioned in the video. "[The video] hurts our humanity," Rizal said as quoted by tempo.co.
Rizal went on to call the video a propaganda tool, saying that the content depicting historical tragedies in the country was manipulated in the video and used without context.
Triawan had initially uploaded the video on his Instagram account @triawanmunaf, but later deleted it and subsequently issued a public apology after social media users roasted him with criticisms of historical inaccuracy.
"Thank you for your criticism and suggestions. I want to clarify that the video is not made by or funded by @bekrafID, I only forwarded the video, which was created by @wahyukentjana. Sincerest apology if the video content is not accurate," Triawan said in a post on Aug. 17. (gis/afr)