Information Ministry Denies 'Act of Killing' Website Censorship

By : webadmin | on 4:07 PM January 14, 2013
Category : Archive

Ethan Harfenist

The website for the controversial documentary “The Act of Killing" was offline over the weekend, prompting accusations of censorship from activists and questions from the film's director.

Joshua Oppenheimer, one of the film’s creators, tweeted on January 11: “It seems that & can longer be accessed from Indonesia. Who did this?”

Attempts to access the sites on computers at The Jakarta Globe were unsuccessful on Monday morning. Both websites were accessible outside of Indonesia and back online in the archipelago Monday afternoon.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology denied blocking the website, explaining that they would have announced the ban publicly.

“We have gotten a lot of complaints about it, but in this case, it is not our authority,” ministry spokesman Gatot S. Dewabroto told the Jakarta Globe in a phone call on Monday. “We had to check internally to make sure. We have to inform the public [since] this is not because of the ministry — we didn’t block the website.”

The Internet transparency organization Indonesia Online Advocacy (IDOLA) created an online petition demanding the government address the alleged ban. 

“There are suspicions that the two sites have been blocked by several Internet Service Providers,” founder Megi Margiyono said. “The websites cannot be accessed from Indonesia. The problem is that there is no transparency about [Internet censorship] in Indonesia, so the public does not know which sites are actually being blocked."

However, Megi tweeted from his personal account on Monday that “Pak Tif [Minister Tifatul Sembiring] has never made any announcements about Indonesia applying political filtering, so there are no sites blocked due to their political content.”

Indonesia's Twitter community voiced concern over the website’s unavailability, with some users asking Tifatul Sembiring, the Minister of Communication and Information Technology (Kominfo), why the site was offline.

“Hey Mr. @tifsembiring, why can’t the website of the act of killing be opened? What’s wrong? Is this on purpose?” tweeted one supporter.

Since its debut at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, “The Act of Killing” has received critical acclaim for its disturbing surrealism and its fresh insight into an era of Indonesian history that is shrouded in secrecy.

Shot over the course of seven years, the movie tells the stories of Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry, two Medan-based gangsters, or “premen,” by detailing their participation in the 1965-1966 anti-communist mass killings that help bring about the rise of the Suharto regime.

The film has been viewed in other countries and also in Indonesia at “secret” invitational screenings.