Joss Wibisono (JW) : I am now with Martin Aleida, who has just testified in front of IPT. A very dramatic testimony. How do you feel ?

Martin Aleida (MA): Thank you. I feel like I’m surrounded by a world that is reaching out their hand to me. Something I don’t find in my own country. So I will reiterate: I hope the judges can reach a conclusion which could shine a light – if not the sun – towards an improvement in Indonesia’s cultural society, which has been destroyed by the army for decades.

JW: It seems like you have prepared yourself for this court appearance. 

MA: Since I was young I was an avid reader. I was champion in poetry reading in the North Sumatra province. I was also in theater. In 1963, I performed in the Jakarta Arts Theater, playing the second-biggest part in the play ‘Sinandang’, written by Ibrahim Hamid or MH who passed away in the Netherlands.

JW: So you use that talent to tell your life story and everything that has happened to you?

MA : I think I have been mentally prepared, as chief prosecutor Mulya Lubis said in his opening statement. “I don’t know if I can return home freely. If I will be interrogated, or even detained.” However, I reiterate: this is the final episode in my life, and I have to give something to my people.

JW: How do think your testimony will be received by the people in your home country?

MA: I realize that some of my statements may surprise them. I said I was a communist. I believe that the PKI was able to construct a new order called socialism. I believed that it was possible. And if it failed, the world would laugh at me, but that’s all right. But at least I had a dream as a human being.

But that happened then, and now the world knows that communism is no longer there, even though in Indonesia it is still considered the devil. People see this as a human rights violation.

There is actually no need to counter communism, except if those governing our country are corrupt. If one scrutinizes certain societies, for example in the Scandinavian countries, one can see that the communist party is not popular.

Here lies the problem. In my country, the common people are neglected. I worked for Tempo magazine for 13 years, and another 13 years for the United Nations. Imagine how much I’ve paid in taxes. I had to pay. I was hit by a motorbike and broke my leg, but I had to pay. What kind of a government is that? These kinds of things give rise to communism. But stubborn, anti-communist people don’t understand this, and this is a tragedy for our people.

JW: What is important now is no longer communism, but respect for human rights and resolving human rights violations of the past.

MA: I think so. I think that’s the most important thing. And people’s thoughts cannot be obstructed. People should be allowed to express their views. I believe that movies such as the betrayal of G 30 S should be allowed to be shown, but so should others like the films of Joshua Oppenheimer: all these films should be viewed by the same people. I believe that is the essence of enjoying freedom. Free of oppression and elimination. We can each be different in our views, but we should never carry weapons to kill others.

JW: You still plan to return home?

MA: I cannot answer you yet at this moment. I will tell you later.