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Oppenheimer 'takes his hat off' to Yogyakarta students

Tempo.co - March 13, 2015

K, Muh. Syaifullah, Jakarta – Joshua Oppenheimer, the director of the film Senyap (The Look of Silence), has "taken off his hat and expressed his highest respect" to the students of the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University (UIN) in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta who were attacked by right-wing religious thugs when they were holding a discussion and film showing of Senyap on Wednesday March 11.

"They are truly heroes in the struggle to uphold, not just academic independence on campus, but also human rights, and reaffirming the spirit of democracy in Indonesia as well as banishing violence", said Oppenheimer in a statement received by Tempo today, Friday March 13.

"A salute to their courage and strength", said Oppenheimer, a film director who was born in the US state of Texas whose first film Jagal (The Act of Killing) exposed the confessions of the executioners who carried out the mass killings in 1965.

Students from the Rethor Student Press Institute (LPM), the Social Movement Institute, the National Student Front (FMN), the Indonesian Islamic Students Movement (PMII), the Indonesian National Students Movement (GMNI) and other groups held a discussion and film screening of Senyap at the old restaurant building on the UIN campus.

Hundreds of people from various groups then arrived and descended on the campus calling for the even to be closed down because they believed that the film was communist propaganda that distorts Indonesian history.

Moreover Senyap has already been banned from being shown [in public cinemas] and failed to pass the censorship board. "It must be closed down", said Indonesian Anti-Communist Front (FAKI) coordinator Burhanuddin.

The students however stood their ground and showed the film saying the discussion was to bring maturity to thinking and polemics. They said the film Senyap can provide knowledge and bring maturity to student's thinking about the character of the New Order rulers during the 1965 affair.

What is extraordinary, said Oppenheimer is that success of students and Indonesian society in defending their right to association, expression and freedom of information.

"This is an important thing in maintaining democracy. What is even more amazing, is that this was all done without [resorting to] violence", he said.

On several occasions film showings of Senyap have been coerced and banned. On February 26 however, soldiers from the 0733 BS Semarang District Military Command (Kodim) in fact also watched the film. The film was shown at the Kodim headquarters auditorium. The event was led by Kodim commander Infantry Lieutenant Colonel M. Taufiq Zega. The event proceeded smoothly without being attacked.

Diponegoro/IV Regional Military Command (Kodam) spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Elpis Rudi said that the event was part of an evaluation on the regional security situation. "The evaluation included pro and contra views about films [like] Senyap. So it wasn't just specifically the film Senyap", Rudi told Tempo in Semarang on Friday March 6.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was Sutradara 'Senyap' Angkat Topi pada Perlawanan UIN Yogya.]

Source: http://www.tempo.co/read/news/2015/03/13/111649654/Sutradara-Senyap-Angkat-Topi-pada-Perlawanan-UIN-Yogya.

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