Jess Melvin

Dr Jess Melvin is Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and was previously Henry Hart Rice Faculty Fellow in Southeast Asian Studies and a Postdoctoral Fellow in Genocide Studies at Yale University. She completed her PhD, "Mechanics of Mass Murder: How the Indonesian Military Initiated and Implemented the Indonesian Genocide: The Case of Aceh," at the University of Melbourne in 2014.

According to official government narratives, the military was forced to step in to save the nation from a coup on 1 October 1965. Drawing on her remarkable new book, Dr Jess Melvin explains how rather than reluctantly stepping in, Soeharto and the military used existing military chains of command to actively seize power.

On 17 October, dozens of declassified files confirmed that the United States had detailed knowledge of and actively supported Indonesian military efforts to destroy the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and its alleged sympathisers. Dr Jess Melvin, who was involved in the declassification project, looks at the most significant revelations.

Joshua Oppenheimer’s breathtaking 2012 documentary, The Act of Killing, focused the world’s attention on the 1965 Indonesian genocide. As Dr Jess Melvin writes, his equally stunning 2014 companion piece, The Look of Silence, demands we do not look away.