In the back are two versions of letters that President Sukarno signed on March 11, 1966, which became a pivotal point in Indonesia’s history. In the letter, President Sukarno transferred his power over to General Suharto in the wake of a failed coup d’état, which was blamed on PKI (Indonesia’s communist party). Many of the laws discriminating against Chinese occurred under Suharto’s 32 year regime. This letter was the official beginning. However, multiple versions of the letters have been found. The circumstances of the letters, the origins of the versions, where they were signed and where the original version were stored are all controversial, and sadly remain unresolved.
One of the laws that directly affected ethnic Chinese Indonesian population was the changing of all their names to more Indonesian sounding names, thus stripping away their (our) identity, control, and power. This is represented in the diorama by the people at the base being corralled and attached to it is the title of the application form used to for name changes.
Indonesia’s national symbol is the garuda, a large mythical bird, prominent in all the Hindu and Buddhist mythology. In this instance, I want it to appear as if it were to attack the people because I imagine that the ethnic Chinese residents of Indonesia who were once welcomed, settled and thrived for generations, contributed to society and participated in its development and growth suddenly were attacked and discriminated against by their own government.
Between 500,000 to more than 1 million people were killed during 1965-1966 in Suharto’s efforts to purge PKI, the anti-communist party and its sympathizers. Many of the people killed were ethnic Chinese.
This explains some reasons why my parents wanted to emigrate.