Special Episode – Anthony Deutsch joins The War Criminals Book Club

This week, we take a break from the regular podcast to share a special episode with you. For those of you who do not follow up on Patreon, this is our November 2023 episode of the War Criminals Book Club. Usually, we are joined by fellow journalist and friend Molly Quell, and we review a book connected to international justice. But this time we made two exceptions.

Plus, we have a special guest – Anthony Deutsch, current Reuters Bureau Chief for the Netherlands, who back in 2008 investigated the 1960s massacres in Indonesia carried out against communists. And we watched a documentary – to Molly’s great joy- The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer that follows the same events.

The Act of Killing takes you to present-day Indonesia – the movie was filmed in 2012 – where the director asks former death squad leaders to reenact their mass killings in whichever way they wish. So we see musical and dramatic scenes where the gangsters have to face their past, often with little remorse.

As Anthony describes the documentary as “absurdly chilling”, we asked him what his own experience in Indonesia was like and what new insights he could still get from this watch.

We also discuss all the absurd settings and costumes, and all the contradictions of this documentary. From on-camera bribery to a gangster trying to console children crying after re-enacting a scene. We reflect on how complex making a portrait of alleged perpetrators can be. And we wonder how it is possible that no justice process has been carried out in Indonesia over all these years.

One of the cases Anthony refers to from the International Criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is the Erdemovic case. And if you want to see Anthony’s writing for the AP about Indonesia you can find it here.

If we did not dissuade you from watching The Act of Killing, you can find the full documentary at this LINK.