Greater bird-of-paradise mating season, video

This video from Indonesia says about itself:

Enter the rainforest canopy of the Aru Islands to watch the coordinated displays of two male Greater Birds-of-Paradise. Then see two females take particular interest in the males’ bright colors, strange sounds, and contorted poses. Filmed by Tim Laman in September 2010.

See also here.


Mass murder, sexual abuse in Suharto’s Indonesia

This 25 October 2017 video from the USA is called Indonesia: killings under Suharto.


The End of Silence (Review)
Reviewed by: Clemens Six
Reviewed item:
The End of Silence: Accounts of the 1965 Genocide in Indonesia

Soe Tjen Marching. 2017.
The End of Silence: Accounts of the 1965 Genocide in Indonesia
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press
ISBN 9462983909

Lest we forget: Testimonies of the 1965 mass killings in Indonesia

The mass killings of suspected communists as well as their supporters, families, and friends in Indonesia during the months after the failed coup on 1 October 1965 is an increasingly rich research field that covers more and more aspects of these fatal events and their impact on society. Recently, for example, historians have drawn attention to the question whether there was a central coordination of the killings under the command of those parts of the armed forces controlled by General Suharto.[i] Others would like to have a better understanding of what the contribution and central motives of social and religious organisations were and to what extent their assistance to the army was indeed decisive for the conduct and the consequences of the bloodbath.[ii]

The book edited by Soe Tjan Marching altogether covers a different facet of these events. It intends to give voice and visibility to the experiences, perceptions, and personal encounters of the victims of the violence as well as their offspring. A strong and vivid plea against what Marching calls the ‘genocide of memory’, this book is a collection of 19 carefully selected testimonies of witnesses directly affected by the persecutions, but also of their children and grandchildren, who inherited the social stigma and the painful silence within their families about the seemingly shameful past of their parents and grandparents. Among these testimonies are seven accounts of women that illustrate this book’s particular interest in gender-related questions.

The offence of silence

In her introduction addressed to a general readership not specifically familiar with the mass killings, Marching provides a general overview on who masterminded the coup, how the killings evolved, who the main perpetrators were, and what Suharto’s regime did to silence any fruitful debate about these events after he had effectively taken power in March 1967. For Marching, this chapter of contemporary Indonesian history is mainly about fear in combination with authoritative approval. In this light, the mass murder is primarily a manifestation of fear instilled and instrumentalised by the armed forces, which not only unleashed the criminal collaboration of so many Indonesians but also paralysed Indonesian society for generations. This interpretation leaves probably too little space for deliberate strategies of different societal groups and their material, social, and political interests in the mass murder. For the interpretation of the testimonies assembled here, however, this question is less pivotal.

To the informed reader, this historical overview does not add much that is new, but the background information the editor gives about herself – her father being dragged from the family home by Suharto’s henchmen, Marching herself growing up with a strong taboo in her family around these events – and this remarkable book project is indeed. The book can therefore also be read as a very personal breach of a societal taboo that still defines Indonesia’s present. Consequently, this collection of testimonies is primarily motivated by today’s fears and stigmas around this issue and the increasing danger that the memories of those who anticipated the killings will be lost soon once and forever. What the introduction unfortunately does not provide is a more systematic evaluation of the testimonies or, in other words, an explanation by the editor where she herself sees the main strength of this material on the background of the ever-growing literature. For that reason, let me highlight three areas in which I see the biggest potential of these accounts.

Detainees, women’s views, and the inherited stigma

Besides the hundreds of thousands killed during the anti-communist pogroms, hundreds of thousands more were detained as political criminals and thus suffered from immediate and long-term repression, which determined not only their personal fate but also their families’ future.[iii] In comparison to the numerous publications on the killings, there is significantly less literature and historical knowledge about the experiences of the detainees, the circumstances of their confinement, and the survivors’ life paths after their release. Marching’s book provides some fascinating insights into the biographies of such detainees. Arrested for trade union activism, journalistic investigations, or entirely arbitrary reasons, the persons interviewed by Marching report in an illustrative and moving manner about the various forms of chicanes they were exposed to. In these testimonies we learn about the cynical and humiliating treatment of prison inmates through military personnel as well as civilian guards, the harsh circumstances of forced labour, but also small acts of resistance and avoidance to preserve a certain degree of dignity and self-respect. Although documented before, particularly interesting is the role of religious services, authorities, and instructions as a central element of the government’s ‘re-education programme’.

A second aspect highlighted by the testimonies is the gender-specific experiences of girls and women. Although there is a growing body of literature produced by Western as well as Indonesian scholars on the female perspectives of the mass killings and the consequences,[iv] this remains a research field that needs more and more detailed empirical analysis. The women’s testimonies assembled here illustrate sexual harassment in sometimes unsettling details – routine verbal abuse, relationships of women with prison guards and the pregnancies resulting from these. Also, the continuous social stigma after the release, particularly prevalent against women, is repeatedly described in these biographical statements.

Finally, the stories of the victims’ children and grandchildren constitute a major part of this publication. Some of them witnessed directly the murder of their parents, were born in prison, or grew up like orphans in families that were not their own. Their life stories are moving accounts of a life-long search for reliable information on what happened to their (grand)parents, the personal struggle against the taboos and the silence within their families, and the professional and social discrimination many of them experienced as offspring of former ‘communists’.

To conclude, this book is a rich and fascinating account of first-hand experience with the anti-communist mass killings and their devastating long-term impact on Indonesian society that were exacerbated by the comprehensive propaganda campaigns and strategies of silencing under Suharto’s dictatorship. The book is not only excellent material for generally interested readers, but also a rich primary source for students and lecturers who want to dive deeper into the abyss of 20th century anti-communist violence, mass persecutions, and patriarchal restoration.

[i] For an overview see John Roosa, The state of knowledge about an open secret: Indonesia’s mass disappearances of 1965-66, The Journal of Asian Studies 75(2), 2016: 281-97.
[ii] Cf. Annie Pohlman, Introduction: The massacres of 1965-1966: New interpretations and the current debate in Indonesia, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 32(3), 2013: 3-9.
[iii] Douglas Kammen and Faizah Zakaria, Detention in mass violence: Policy and practice in Indonesia, 1965-1968, Critical Asian Studies 44(3), 2012: 441-66.
[iv] Cf. Saskia Wieringa, Sexual Politics in Indonesia, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002; and Amurwani Dwi Lestariningsih, Gerwani: Kisah Tapol Wanita di Kamp Plantungan (Gerwani: The story of female political prisoners in Camp Plantungan), Jakarta: Kompas, 2011.

New bird-of-paradise species’ courtship dance video

This 14 September 2018 video from Indonesia says about itself:

Rare Footage of New Bird of Paradise Species Shows Odd Courtship Dance | Nat Geo Wild

By observing its courtship appearance and dance, researchers were able to confirm the rare Vogelkop superb bird of paradise as a new species.

Saving rare hornbills in Indonesia

This 4 September 2018 video says about itself:

Inside the Mission to Save the Rare Helmeted Hornbill From Poachers | National Geographic

What does it take to photograph the helmeted hornbill? Patience. National Geographic photographer Tim Laman teamed up with Rangkong Indonesia and spent months in the field just to get a glimpse of the extremely rare bird.

The helmeted hornbill is one of 57 hornbill species in Africa and Asia. It’s found only in the lowland forests of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and southern Thailand.

The helmeted hornbill stands apart from the other hornbills because its casque—the horny helmet above its beak—is mostly solid with a thick layer of keratin. But that unique trait might also be the birds’ undoing. Softer than ivory and easily carved, hornbill casques are in high demand in Asia, to be fashioned into beads, pendants, and intricate works of art. Illegal poaching has caused this bird to be on the critically endangered list.

Indonesian Muslim girls play heavy metal rock

This video says about itself:

Heavy Metal Hijabis

25 July 2018

The town of Garut in Western Java, Indonesia is a quiet place—that is, until Voice of Baceprot takes the stage. While most people in the town live tranquil, pastoral lives, teenagers Firdda, Widia and Euis thrash out and rock hard. The band has shot to fame for playing heavy metal in the religiously conservative country. After gaining popularity, VoB began to face criticism for performing while wearing hijabs. Still, they continue to shred—an inspiration for everyone with a little bit of music and a little bit of hardcore rebellion in their souls.

Marine animals discoveries off Indonesia

This video says about itself:

Diving in Bali is a document of an extraordinary expedition I made to Indonesia’s magical island of Bali in 2006 with Aquamarine Diving.

From Tulamben’s awesome USAT Liberty wreck, to the reef manta rays of Nusa Penida, via the fascinating macro marine life of Tulamben and Seraya Secrets, the footage covers the breadth of Bali’s fascinating underwater world.

The video features 158 species of marine life, and their common and scientific names are available by turning on the captions with the CC button under the video.

Viewers can now contribute subtitles for the marine life names in this video in many languages. Find out more here.

From Tulamben there is footage of the wreck of the USAT Liberty in both day time and night time, including the humphead parrotfish that spend the night there. Also from Tulamben are numerous marine live encounters from dives at the Drop-Off and the Coral Garden.

Just around the corner we make a dive at Seraya Secrets, a macro hotspot where I encountered seahorses and nudibranchs. From Padangbai on the east coast of Bali we have footage from The Blue Lagoon and Pura Jepun. From the island of Nusa Penida we have the manta ray cleaning station, Manta Point, and Ped.

From the National University of Singapore:

More than 12,000 marine creatures uncovered during West Java deep-sea exploration

Over a dozen new species of crabs, prawns and lobsters discovered; over 40 new records for Indonesia

April 17, 2018

Despite a stormy start thanks to Cyclone Marcus, scientists who participated in the South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 (SJADES 2018) had collected more than 12,000 creatures during their 14-day voyage to survey the unexplored deep seas off the southern coast of West Java, Indonesia.

The expedition team, consisting 31 researchers and support staff, were led by Professor Peter Ng, Head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum of the National University of Singapore (NUS), and Professor Dwi Listyo Rahayu, Senior Research Scientist at the Research Center for Oceanography (RCO) of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). The NUS research team comprises scientists from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and the Tropical Marine Science Institute.

Some 800 species from over 200 families of sponges, jellyfish, molluscs, starfish, urchins, worms, crabs, prawns and fish were uncovered during the expedition. Over a dozen new species of hermit crabs, prawns, lobsters and crabs were discovered, and over 40 species of various kinds are new records for Indonesia.

Among the deep-sea creatures new to science is a crab that has fuzzy spines and blood-red eyes; a lobster with long arms and zebra-patterned shell; and a hermit crab with green eyes and orange banded pincers. …

63 stations sampled within a fortnight

The research team departed Muara Baru, Jakarta in Indonesia on 23 March 2018 on board Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII. They sailed anti-clockwise towards Cilacap in southern Java and back, covering a total distance of 2,200 kilometres.

“14 days of shared challenges at sea has enabled us to forge strong ties with our Indonesian collaborators, and such links are important to the long-term scientific ties between our two countries,” said Prof Ng, chief scientist for the Singapore team. “On the research front, our teams have learnt a lot about how to conduct deep-sea science, handle the various equipment needed for such work, and had the opportunity to sample and examine a multitude of fantastic deep sea animals. We expect to identify more new species among the pickings of the expedition, and we certainly look forward to studying the specimens and data with our Indonesian friends.”

Prof Rahayu, chief scientist for the Indonesia team, said, “The Indonesian scientists benefitted both personally and professionally through this expedition, which was partly a capacity-building exercise for our young scientists. Through interacting with international scientists, they were exposed to new scientific techniques and methodologies in an environment that presents a different set of challenges from their own scientific specialities. Hopefully, such knowledge transfer and collaboration would build stronger and more resilient ties among between our two nations.”

About the expedition

The South Java Deep-Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 is the first concerted deep-sea biological exploration conducted by Singapore and Indonesia, to study deep-sea marine life in the largely unexplored part of the waters off the southern coast of West Java.

This unprecedented project is a reflection of the bold and collaborative spirit embodied in RISING50 — a celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia. This joint initiative reaffirms the depth and diversity of the long-standing collaboration between the academic and scientific communities of Singapore and Indonesia.

The samples collected will be studied by scientists from both countries. This is anticipated to take up to two years, and the results will be shared and discussed with the world at a special workshop that will be held in Indonesia in 2020. The outputs will then be collated and published in the museum’s science-citation journal, The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Expedition results