Seeing Indonesia From Behind Bars: An Interview With Vannessa Hearman


  • Antje Missbach Monash University




In the aftermath of the 1965 military coup that brought right-wing General Suharto to power in Indonesia, (para)military death squads killed between half and one million alleged communists (especially union members, landless farmers, and intellectuals). Vannessa Hearman completed her doctoral thesis at the University of Melbourne on the 1965–1968 anti-communist killings and violence in East Java, and the New Order regime’s struggle to win acceptance following the killings. She is currently a lecturer at the Department of Indonesian Studies, University of Sydney. In one of her current research projects, she is researching transnational activist and friendship networks born out of letters written by and to political prisoners incarcerated between 1965 and 1985 as part of the anticommunist persecution in Indonesia. In this interview, conducted in Perth, Australia, in July 2014, Vannessa Hearman speaks about political prisoners in Indonesia under the Suharto regime, their exchange of letters with pen friends around the globe, and what can be learned from these letters until today.


Author Biography

Antje Missbach, Monash University

Antje Missbach is research fellow at Monash University in Melbourne. She has written widely about the long-distance politics of the Acehnese diaspora. Currently, she is finalizing a book entitled Troubled Transit: Asylum Seekers Stuck in Indonesia. Contact:




How to Cite

Missbach, A. (2014). Seeing Indonesia From Behind Bars: An Interview With Vannessa Hearman. Advances in Southeast Asian Studies, 7(2), 237–242.