Seducing for Truth and Justice: Civil Society Initiatives for the 1965 Mass Violence in Indonesia

Sri Lestari Wahyuningroem


The article examines both civil society initiatives that seek to address the mass violence of 1965 and 1966 and the state’s responses to them. Unlike other political-transition contexts in the world, a transitional justice approach is apparently a formula that state authorities have found difficult to implement nationally for this particular case. The central government has, through its institutions, sporadically responded to some of the calls from civil society groups and has even initiated policy reforms to support such initiatives. Nevertheless, these responses were not sustained and any suggested programmes have always failed to be completed or implemented. Simultaneously, however, NGOs and victims are also voicing their demands at the local level. Many of their initiatives involve not only communities but also local authorities, including in some cases the local governments. In some aspects, these “bottom-up” approaches are more successful than attempts to create change at the national level. Such approaches challenge what Kieran McEvoy refers to as an innate “seductive” quality of transitional justice, but at the same time these approaches do, in fact, aim to “seduce” the state to adopt measures for truth and justice.

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