PANEL 8A – Political & Mass Violence

Panel 8A – Political and Mass Violence

In this forum, we discuss the pattern of political and mass violence in Southeast Asia, with cases from Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. This covers state and non-state groups’ violence toward civilians (Boyle, 2010; Gerlach, 2010). Abstract 1 addresses issues of mass violence and its denial that occurred in Cambodia (1975-1979), East Timor (1975-1999, during Indonesia occupation), Indonesia (1965-1966), and Myanmar (relatively since the end of 1970s or early 1980s). Abstract 2 shares a study on collective memories of the May 1998 riots in Indonesia. This is aimed to understand how Indonesian civilians experience and perceive the May 1998 riots, particularly as the anti-Chinese attacks and violence. The anti-communist massacre that was perpetrated in Indonesia in 1965-66 is raised specifically in Abstract 3, by attempting to find a counter-narrative that could give an effect on support for reparation. Paper 4 and 6 cover issues about Myanmar related to the current crisis and its historical problems of human rights violations and armed conflicts. Finally, abstract 5 takes up issues about state-sponsored violence in the Philippines toward various groups such as suspected drug users and dealers, communists, indigenous peoples, Muslim “insurgents”, and activists. The project was aimed to understand state violence under Duterte by integrating systemic, group, and individual-level analyses. By employing social and political psychology perspectives, that have been comparatively rare in academic debates on these cases, we aim to explore issues raised above in this forum.


Host institution: Altersea (Backup: LP3ES)

Convener: Idhamsyah Eka Putra (University of Persada, Indonesia)

Chairperson: Idhamsyah Eka Putra (University of Persada, Indonesia)


Haidar Buldan Thontowi (Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia) – 1965-1966 anti-communist repression in Indonesia: the role of counter-narratives in promoting reparative action

Abstract: During 1965-66 around half a million accused communists and communist supporters were killed. Despite the gravity of the killings, to this day the Indonesian government refuses to acknowledge the transgression of the past, and victims have yet to receive justice. Attempts to address past human rights violations have been met with opposition particularly among military and right-wing Islamic organizations (Roosa, 2020). These groups continue to promote narratives that communists are an eternal threat to Indonesia (Heryanto, 2006; Roosa, 2020). Despite narratives playing a role in perpetuating conflict (Bar-Tal, Oren, & Nets-Zehngut, 2014), however, Hammack and Pilecki (2012) suggest that narratives can be used as mobilization devices for political change. Building upon this idea together with the political solidarity model (Subasic, Reynolds, & Turner, 2008) we proposed that counter-narratives affect support for reparation to Indonesia’s ex-communists by increasing inclusive identity with (accused) ex-communists. Two experimental online studies (N = 725) were run which randomly assigned participants (mostly Indonesian students aged 18-53 years) to a counter-narrative condition and no counter-narrative condition. The results of the two studies supported our hypothesis. A third study (N = 502) tested whether the effects of counter-narratives were conditional upon perceived communist threat. We found that the counter-narrative had an effect on support for reparation among participants in the low threat condition but not among those in the high threat condition. These findings suggest that policies should promote narratives that emphasize a common identity between Indonesians and (accused) ex-communists.

Keywords: communism, counter-narrative, 1965-66 massacre, Indonesia, reparation of past wrongdoing.

Bio & Contact: Haidar Buldan Thontowi, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.

Danielle P. Ochoa, Clod Marlan Krister Yambao & Diwa Malaya A. Quiñones (University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines)  – Integrating Perspectives on State-Sponsored Violence in the Philippines towards Forging Paths of Collective Resistance

Abstract: In the past five years under President Duterte, the Philippines has experienced an onslaught of state-sponsored and everyday violence inflicted upon various groups such as suspected drug users and dealers, communists, indigenous peoples, Muslim “insurgents”, and activists. In this presentation, we analyze the institutional and everyday enablers and complicities along with individual and collective responses to state violence. We integrate insights on how this violence is accepted, justified, contested, or resisted from our respective research projects: (1) survey research investigating of Filipino adults (n=1432) towards the war on drugs using an interactionist lens focused on personality factors (traits, values, political efficacy, civic engagement) as they played out in an arguably strong situation (salient issue), (2) qualitative analysis of interviews with 12 urban young adults on their moral reasoning about the war on drugs with attention to discourses about victims and perpetrators, and (3) ethnographic and solidarity work in the time of COVID-19 pandemic amongst the internally-displaced Lumad where the pandemic is weaponized by the state to silence the indigenous peoples. Though coming from different methodological and theoretical standpoints, these projects contribute to understanding state violence under Duterte by integrating systemic, group, and individual-level analyses and by presenting potential ways forward in mobilizing collective action and analyzing lifeworlds and agencies among different social groups.

Keywords: political violence, political attitudes, solidarity, collective action, the Philippines.

Bio & Contact: Danielle Ochoa is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology, University of the Philippines Diliman, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in Developmental Psychology and Field Research Methods and serves as the Graduate Program Coordinator. She recently completed her PhD with a focus on Developmental Psychology at the same institution. Her dissertation examined Filipino young adults’ moral reasoning from a cultural-developmental approach using discourse analysis. She is active in research on moral psychology, collective action, gender equality, and parenting, as well as children’s rights advocacy work. She is currently the secretary of the National Association for Philippine Psychology.

Clod Marlan Krister V. Yambao is an Assistant Professor of Art Studies in the College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines, Diliman. He finished his BA Art Studies (Interdisciplinary: Political Science and Psychology concentration) and MA in Art Studies (Art History) at the University of the Philippines. He was a recipient of the 2016 IMPAKT ASIA Mobility research grant where he delivered lectures on cultural politics, aesthetic statism, and time at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Faculty of Political and Social Science in the University of Ghent, Belgium in 2016 and 2018. He taught and delivered lectures and seminars on politics of conflict, theories on violence, and political theory at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies in 2018 and 2019, and 2020. He is currently taking his PhD in Political Science under the Conflict Research Group, Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Faculty of Political and Social Science, and the Doctoral School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium.

Diwa Malaya A. Quiñones is an Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He teaches undergraduate and graduate-level social psychology and political psychology courses. Diwa’s research interest is in political psychology, with a focus on citizens’ political cognitions and behaviors in both formal and non-formal platforms of engagement. He earned his PhD in Social Psychology from the same university as he completed his dissertation on the forms and psychological predictors of civic engagement in the Philippines.

A.B. – Reasons and Problems of political violence and conflict in Myanmar

Abstract: The presentation aims to give an overview of the history of political violence and conflict in Myanmar, and what are the implications of the coup carried out by the military in early February 2021. General Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup, was one of those who are responsible for the Rohingya genocide. Before a sort of shared power between the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the Military (2016-2020), Myanmar civilians had to live under a repressive military government (1988-2015), reported to violate human rights. During this time period, any critic voice to the government could be considered as a threat or an enemy of the state. In addition to the state violence to the civilians, armed conflicts at the horizontal level (between ethnic groups) and vertical level (between the state military and paramilitary groups) have been part of Myanmar history for a long time. Myanmar has 135 ethnic groups involving 8 major groups such as Burmese, Kachin, Kayar, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine, and Shan. Burmese (the majority group) military struggle to get a role of domination and they are accused of having an agenda of burmanization of all Myanmar’s regions. In consequence, almost every ethnic group has its own armed forces and has a conflict with the Burmese military. Nonetheless, there have been peaceful movements from civilians attempting to establish a federal democratic union.  This could be more powerful if it could gain global support, or at least from ASEAN countries.