Imam Aziz

Ashoka Fellow
Yogyakarta, D.I. Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Fellow Since 2003


This profile was prepared when Imam Aziz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Imam believes that democracy will never be able to take root in Indonesia as long as the sense of hatred and revenge continues to exist among its people and discrimination continues to be practiced on a structural level–both consequences of the 1965 massacres. He uses a citizen-to-citizen approach designed both to reveal the truth and to foster cooperation on restoring the full civil rights long denied to many. What makes Imam's work so remarkable is that he does it from within the modern Nahdulatul Ulama (NU), an organization with 40 million members across the country, and–paradoxically given its own involvement in the bloodshed–the only one with the breadth and credibility to help Indonesia overcome the legacy of 1965.
By retelling stories from both sides and reexamining the context together, the survivors are being given a means to negotiate a once untouchable past. Through the process they are coming to realize that both the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and members of the NU were victims of a militarized state that survived by pitting citizen against citizen. After compiling local histories of the violent era, Imam and his group facilitate meetings between Islamic organizations that took part in the massacre and surviving victims and families of the deceased. Once reconciliation is underway, they look to the future and help set the stage for cooperative community activities. Advocating for the elimination of discriminatory policies is also an integral part of this movement, as is the rehabilitation of the civil, political, and economic rights of the victims.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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