Proscribed Books

Dec 28th, 2009, in News, by

Latest book bannings from the Attorney General's Office, revisionist history and religious pluralism.

In another round of book banning five books were recently proscribed by the Attorney General's Office, the first among them dealing with revisionist views of the events of 1965 and the liquidation of the Communist Party of Indonesia, and the role of Lekra, the communist literary/cultural front organisation led by Pramoedya Ananta Toer.


Dalih Pembunuhan Massal

  • Dalih Pembunuhan Massal Gerakan 30 September dan Kudeta Soeharto (translation of Pretext for Mass Murder by John Roosa) published by Institut Sejarah Sosial Indonesia dan Hasta Mitra

Lekra Tak Membakar Buku

  • Lekra Tak Membakar Buku (Suara Senyap Lembar Kebudayaan Harian Rakjat 1950-1965) (Lekra Didn't Burn Books: The Silenced Voice of the People's Daily, 1950-1965) by Rhoma Dwi Aria Yuliantri and Muhidin M Dahlan


A third work on West Papua calls for self-determination for the Papuans.

Suara Gereja Papua

  • Suara gereja bagi umat tertindas: penderitaan, tetesan darah, dan cucuran air mata umat Tuhan di Papua Barat harus diakhiri. (The voice of the church for the oppressed: the suffering, loss of blood, and tears of God's people in West Papua must be ended) by Socratez Sofyan Yoman


While two others offer alternative, non-orthodox, and religiously pluralistic views of how to get closer to one's Lord.

Enam Jalan Menuju Tuhan

  • Enam Jalan Menuju Tuhan (Six Paths to God) by Darmawan MM
  • Mengungkap Misteri Keragaman Agama (Revealing the Mystery of Religious Diversity) by Syahrudin Ahmad

A political analyst, Bima Arya Sugiarto, offered a typical commentary on the bannings

Banning these books will just make people want to read them.

Bima said books which genuinely violated the Basic Law of 1945 should be prohibited, but otherwise openness should be placed on at least level standing with the need to guard social and political stability. rakyatmerdeka


59 Comments on “Proscribed Books”

  1. avatar diego says:

    This post must have to do with recent controversy on the book from GJA. I guess I don’t like that person. Just a feeling. Looks like that’s what he does for a living, much like tabloid writers, sensationalist, whatever. I hate his pretentious look, intelectuales condechis (as people would call it here in mexico city, more or less bourgeois intellectuals, I guess). Pahlawan kesiangan. So, yes, that’s a good reason to ban his “book”. I haven’t read it though. No time, no interest.

  2. avatar Ross says:

    Having just read Wars Within, Janet Steele’s book on the history of Tempo magazine, I’d been thinking about Lekra’s deplorable record of collaboration with( puppetry by) the totalitarian PKI, and it seems hard to figure out why anybody might wish to defend it, or indeed Harian Rakyat, which like its namesake in Beijing always acted as defender of the worst elements in Indonesia.

    Having said that, I don’t care for the banning of revisionist history.

    As with the climate panic movement, too many establishment experts regard their version of truth as sacrosanct. In Europe, historians like David Irving have been persecuted by law, simply for expressing doubts about the reality of what happened in the period 1935- 45.

    It is, however, important, to check out who these authors are. People like Rex
    Mortimer, for instance, are published without any mention of their heinous record of support for communism. That would be like selling stew to Muslims without telling them that it contains pork.

  3. avatar Burung Koel says:

    I don’t care for the banning of revisionist history

    In Europe, historians like David Irving have been persecuted by law, simply for expressing doubts

    My italics. I assume that you’re either joking, or trolling.

    From this article at the University of Chicago Free Press, which discusses (rather too fairly in my mind) whether Irving is in fact a historian at all:

    Nor is Irving a model of free speech himself. He regularly files libel suits in England against his critics…

    Irving hasn’t been prosecuted for expressing doubts. He has other problems.

  4. avatar Ross says:

    Try reading “U ab riliant account of Hunngary’s 1956 Revolution. He was jailed in Austria for expressing his opinions.

  5. avatar Ross says:

    Uprising!

  6. avatar Burung Koel says:

    He was jailed in Austria for expressing his opinions.

    He was jailed in Austria for inciting anti-Semitism through denying the Holocaust. At his trial he tried to mitigate his circumstances by saying that what he had said was wrong, and then (when that didn’t work), that he wasn’t actually an expert on the Holocaust anyway.

    His more recent court problems have come from his libel suits going pear shaped. Irving likes nothing better than baiting real historians who do proper research before expressing their opinions. He’s still a Holocaust denier, by the way.

    If you want a poster boy for free expression, pick someone else.

  7. avatar Ross says:

    The whole idea of free expression is that not ony poster-boys should be able to enjoy it.
    I don’t doubt he tried to avoid prison when arraigned before a court. Judges should not be entitled to rule on what happened in history. ‘Real’ historians ought not to need police to enforce their standpoints.
    The whole ‘holocaust denial’ thing is an affront to free expression. I reckon millions were killed, in horrible ways, but if somebody wants to dispute this, or aspects of it, e.g. compare it to the other much worse holocaust in Ukraine or in Red China,(which probably deserve the capital H more than the Nazi one) I’d hardly go whining to the local coppers to back me up.

  8. avatar Burung Koel says:

    I agree that free expression should be for anyone, whatever their political or other persuasion. However, there is a difference between free expression and things like incitement and libel/slander. That’s why all societies have laws about defamation.

    Irving’s trouble came from lying about the Holocaust during a particularly sensitive time in Austria (remember Haider’s neo Nazis?). He tried to inflame an already tense situation, and most importantly, the ‘facts’ he used were not correct. If he could back up his statements, then he would have some reasonable right to discuss them publicly. Part of the reason Irving backed down at the trial was that he couldn’t actually justify (through historical evidence) anything that he had said.

    Say, to provide a comparable example, a non-qualified, populist writer on Irish history came to Derry during marching season. Then during speeches and interviews he insisted that the IRA never killed any innocent Protestants. At the least he would be a dickhead, and at worst he would be a provocation to violence.

  9. avatar Ross says:

    You use an example likely to appeal to me, Burung, but I can’t accept your line of thinking, esp as it massages the political situation in Austria. Halder, now dead, of course, led a rightwing party strong on immigration and sovereignty, hence he was accused of being a ‘neo-nazi.’ The EU had been trying to intimidate one of its own members by diplomatic sanctions because Freedom Party members had entered the federal government in coalition.
    Irving has indeed toned down his arguments, probably because he is getting old and a spell behind bars did not appeal. Not heroic, but comprehensible. He should in any case be free to say what he thinks, not just because he was a respected historian, who nowadays finds it hard to get published, but because asserting his views about what happened sixty years ago is only ‘incitement’ in the sense that the Ahmadiyah’s religious opinions are ‘incitement’ to the FPI.
    The French nationalist Le Pen was similarly dragged to court and punished for saying that the nazi holocaust was ‘a detail of history.’ Since history is a long time and encompasses billions of deaths, he was certainly accurate, and did not merit prosecution just because some people thought his comment in bad taste.

    People these days are too touchy.

    Protestants in Ulster have been subjected to political/ racial/religious violence for decades or indeed centuries. This has been backed up by slanderous ethnic slurs by pols and journos.I don’t like people saying Ulster folk are cruel, sectarian neanderthals, but I have to listen to it and I don’t take it as justification for violence..

  10. avatar diego says:

    Ha ha… that pseudo-intellectual GJA turns out to be a thug. Hate pseudo-intellectual. Sensationalist.

  11. avatar Ross says:

    Who is GJA?

  12. avatar diego says:

    George Junus Aditjondro.

    George Junus Aditjondro

  13. avatar Astrajingga says:

    Diego, as I can see in the picture, the way GJA used the book is really dangerous. He could have gouged that man’s eye with a book!

    Yes, it makes sense that some books, or should I say the way it is used, including reading it, must be banned.

    This is for the safety and the stability of Indonesia, as a state and as a nation. Indonesia must be aman (safe) dan terkendali (maintained/guided/controlled/bridled/restrained).

    Since it is difficult to translate ‘terkendali’ I think it means the last.

  14. avatar Rob Baiton says:

    With free speech comes responsibility.

    It is unfortunate that many people seem to think that free speech is being without restriction to say whatever you want whenever you want…oh well!

  15. avatar Oigal says:

    just because some people thought his comment in bad taste.

    Pretty much covers what I think of your use of the word “respected” Ross but then…

  16. avatar Ross says:

    Oigal and Rob appear to be shifting in an illiberal direction. This may be no bad thing, but I look forward to hearing more from them on the topic.

  17. avatar David says:

    It was at a book launching, lol, GJA I mean,

  18. avatar Oigal says:

    I think not Ross, I do believe that a true free press and freedom of speech exposes such nonsense as below to the ridicule it deserves

    He should in any case be free to say what he thinks, not just because he was a respected historian,

    It’s a convoluted loop of logic (?) that allows someone to say

    The French nationalist Le Pen was similarly dragged to court and punished for saying that the nazi holocaust was ‘a detail of history.’

    and

    only ‘incitement’ in the sense that the Ahmadiyah’s religious opinions are ‘incitement’ to the FPI.

    are remotely connected in any shape or form.

  19. avatar Odinius says:

    What kind of a democracy bans well-researched history books by accomplished historians, such as the Roosa book?

    Shameful.

  20. avatar Oigal says:

    You answered your own question Odinius.
    It is always faintly amusing to hear the system of government described as democracy. It’s many things but democracy it ain’t. Although to be fair there’s lots worse out there.

  21. avatar Ross says:

    So, Oigal, should Irving be prosecuted or not?
    I spent an hour or so in Mal Ambassador on Hogmanay, and at the front of TriMedia bookstore there was a huge display of two beautifully bound books, one about Husein Obama and the other Mein Kampf, by a certain A. Hitler.
    I had a look at both, but bought neither. Obama is always depressing, and I had already read Hitler years ago and found it turgid and virtually unreadable.
    Yet that was my choice.
    In Austria, I think, and Germany for sure, MK is banned, though curiously none of K Marx’s works are, though Marx certainly caused much more misery and murder.
    My point is that suppressing books – and cartoons – just because they upset some folks, is not wise.
    Open debate tends to lead to sensible conclusions.
    BTW, Rob, congrats on using your full name. Nice to see glasnost in IM.

  22. avatar Odinius says:

    Oigal said:

    You answered your own question Odinius.
    It is always faintly amusing to hear the system of government described as democracy. It’s many things but democracy it ain’t. Although to be fair there’s lots worse out there.

    I’ll disagree somewhat. It is definitely a democracy, just not a liberal democracy. Or, perhaps, its democratization is still incomplete. Can’t say that’s a surprise…when the US had slavery and then Jim Crow, I’d say it was also illiberal or incomplete.

    That, of course, doesn’t make it right or any less shameful. Or, for that matter, embarrassing to those of us who are either Indonesian or love the country, warts and all.

  23. avatar diego says:

    The incident took place when GJA launched his book 😀

    *pun intended, no sorry from me*

  24. avatar diego says:

    Why funny thoughts about GJA crossed my mind when I saw him on that youtube. I mean…, hey look, rainbows out there…. *Screech*.

  25. avatar David says:

    There are about 20 more books that are probably going to be banned shortly, JP says they are on the themes of pluralism and spirituality; Sept. 30, 1965; corruption; and history.

    The corruption mention might be a reference to GJA’s book, – Membongkar Gurita Cikeas: Dibalik Skandal Bank Century (Unmasking the Cikeas Octopus: Behind the Bank Century Scandal).

    Another one is probably Berpihak dan Bertindak Intoleran (Taking Sides and Being Intolerant) by the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace. If they’re going to ban all these religious tolerance/diversity books they should ban the jakartapost newspaper as well.

  26. avatar Oigal says:

    It is definitely a democracy, just not a liberal democracy.

    My turn to disagree, it is my opinion that a democracy rests on two planks. First, the politician is elected by the people and second, he is then bound to represent the interests of those people. Even in the money driven democracy of the USA, every congressman knows if he continually screws his constituents then he will be turfed. It would appear that factional power plays rule the day here. Not sure who is to blame the system or the people who don’t seem to demand much.

    However, less like democracy than a Pirate ship. Every few years, the scurvy ridden plunderers get together to elect who will be Blackbeard and decide how the booty is to be divided up amongst the motley crew of cutthroats and lags.

    Having said that, there is a glimmer of hope at local levels, I remember reading that less than 25% ( I think) of local members are being re-elected for a second term. So perhaps the message is starting to sink in.

  27. avatar David says:

    Menteri Patrialis Akbar Mengingatkan Ismed pada Adolf Hitler – http://www.rakyatmerdeka.co.id/news/2010/01/03/85873/PELARANGAN-BUKU-Menteri-Patrialis-Akbar-Mengingatkan-Ismed-pada-Adolf-Hitler-, mind you rakyatmerdeka will publish absolutely anything that is critical of the government.

  28. avatar Burung Koel says:

    I think we’ve truly slipped down the rabbit hole when governments ban books promoting pluralism and tolerance. The only winners are those like the thugs of FPI.

    My turn to disagree, it is my opinion that a democracy rests on two planks. First, the politician is elected by the people and second, he is then bound to represent the interests of those people.

    I would add a third – a broad tax base, with lots of small taxpayers. When people pay their share of taxes, they feel they have more of a stake in what the government does with the money, i.e. what policies are made and where it is spent. Indonesia’s tax revenue is narrowly based on oil/gas and other commodities, so governments feel no real financial accountability to most of the population, and it is easier to divide up the booty amongst special interests.

    /Probably been reading too much Niall Ferguson.

  29. avatar Ross says:

    Your best bet for real democracy is the recall system (by which a percentage of voters can require the ‘representative’ to face another election) and referenda. otherwise the elites run things always to suit their own agenda.

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