01 December 2009
Balibo -- The Film -- Banned in Indonesia...
The decision of the Indonesian Film Censorship Board (Lembaga Sensor Film / LSF) to ban the screening of the film Balibo is hardly one for the surprising column. It pretty much was expected, and even more so when the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club and the Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFF) both indicated that they were going to screen the film. It certainly was a case of upping the ante.
Well, the LSF responded as expected and banned the film because of the political nature of it, and probably because the film conveys a position that the Indonesian government considers to be lies, a complete fabrication, and a distortion of the truth in the extreme. All of those things mean essentially the same, but they needed repeating in slightly different forms to highlight how seriously the Indonesian government would have been working the LSF to ensure that a ban was forthcoming.
The simple reality here is that the Indonesian position is that the five journalists, who became known as the Balibo Five, were killed in crossfire between Indonesian and Fretilin troops. Whereas, in stark contrast to the official Indonesian position, the film depicts the five being murdered by Indonesian troops under the immediate command of Captain Yunus Yosfiah who went on to reach the rank of general, become a minister, and serve time as a parliamentarian.
These actions were found by the Coroner's Court in NSW to be tantamount to war crimes and worthy of further investigation, and ultimately prosecution.
The Australian Federal Police are committed to completing a war crimes investigation into the deaths of the Balibo Five. So, bilateral tension seems certain to escalate over this matter at some point in the future.
A final point on the issue of censorship. I think the majority of Indonesians are ready enough to cast a critical eye over the film and make judgments as to the content. The idea that the LSF is banning this film because Indonesians are not mature enough to watch and determine for themselves the validity of this film is an insult to all Indonesians.
(Photo from here)