Less than a week before the festival kicks off, organizers for the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) were forced to cancel a series of events discussing Indonesia’s controversial 1965 killings.
It was apparently either cancel the events linked to the 50th anniversary of the Communist repression or run the risk of having the festival’s permits pulled by authorities, UWRF explained in a statement published on their website today.
“It is extremely disappointing and some might even say cowardly that the government is refusing to discuss this national tragedy,” UWRF founder and director Janet DeNeefe said, as quoted by Fairfax Media.
“It’s almost like censorship has become fashionable overnight again,” she added.
But it seems like that by trying to silence open dialogue about the killings, authorities are doing the very opposite of their goal—drawing further attention to the history and sparking an even more intense level of international scrutiny as news spreads of the festival’s coerced programming changes.
“You can’t silence something like that – sometimes these things are needed because they bring things to a head. This is almost like our look of silence – by not holding these sessions there is a powerful message,” DeNeefe said.