After the fall of President Soeharto in May 1998, the student movement in Indonesia had to face military / police repression while fighting for reform. It was because of this oppression and violence that the student movement became even more brutal. They also challenged the military on the streets. This documentary features gripping and inspiring eye-witness footage of some of the most dramatic clashes in the history of the student movement.
But that movement was short-lived. On Oct. 2, 1968, 10 days before the opening of the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, police officers and military troops shot into a crowd of unarmed students. Thousands of demonstrators fled in panic as tanks bulldozed over Tlatelolco Plaza.
The student movement got its start from a street fight between high school students after a football game. The students confronted the Mexico City riot police sent there to end the skirmish. After hours of student resistance, the army was called in to quench the violence. The siege ended when the soldiers blasted the main door of the National Preparatory School in San Ildefonso with a bazooka, killing some of the students in the building.
After these events, the students rapidly called for a new gathering on Oct. 2 at the Three Cultures Square in the Tlatelolco housing complex. Thousands of students showed up to get firsthand knowledge of the movement's next steps. As the gathering was ending, soldiers arrived to capture the movement's leaders. They were greeted by gunshots from the buildings surrounding the square. The troops then opened fire, turning the evening into a shooting that lasted nearly two hours.
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The students reported that they chose nonviolent means because they were no match for the army and they anticipated excuses for government repression if they did not; moreover, the movement did not seek an overthrow of the government and felt that the contradictions they were attempting to address could not be solved by violence (Sharp and Jenkins 1989: 3).
As another first-hand observer, Frank Niming (1990: 84), wrote: the student activists, novices at movement mobilization, faced two key strategic problems: first, how to remain independent from an ongoing factional struggle within the Chinese Communist Party and second, to avoid criticism of the political system itself, which would inevitably have resulted in their immediate suppression. Through social networks, organizations, and the media, movement participants constructed and disseminated injustice frames first to other students and then to the broader public (see Zuo and Benford 1995). In general, however, the movement was mobilized and acted through small groups and individuals rather than through any general coordination. Leadership was often informal and changed hands frequently during the course of the short movement and proposals for longer-term strategic action rather than short-term dramatic tactics were often marginalized (Zhao 2006).
Even for those who haven't made a screening, the film is easily accessible in Indonesia via free download or pirated DVD. There have been few disruptions to the promotion of the film in Indonesia. There was a brief period when the website became unavailable, for which the government denies responsibility, and one newspaper editor in West Java was mobbed for using the film to criticise the group Pancasila Youth, an incident which was more about his comments than the film itself.
In Indonesia, the history of this time was buried for 32 years under a state-endorsed version of events. Under Suharto's New Order, students were required to watch a film called Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI ('The Treason of the 30 September Movement/Indonesian Communist Party), in which communists were portrayed as bloodthirsty sadists.
Greg Booth received his Ph.D. in music from Kent State University in 1986 and was appointed to his current position in Ethnomusicology at the University of Auckland in 1993. He has been conducting research on music and culture in South Asia since 1981 and performs Hindustani classical music on tabla as a student of Ustad Zakir Hussain. Dr. Booth has published research on the gurushishya parampara, brass and wedding bands, popular music, and Hindi films and film music. He is currently engaged in field work in Mumbai on film music and musicians. His monograph on South Asian brass bands is currently in press with Oxford University Press. 2b1af7f3a8