October 3, 2015


Remembering Indonesia's Bloody Coup : Fifty years ago this week Indonesia experienced one of the 20th century's darkest moments. (Nithin Coca, October 02, 2015, The Diplomat)

On September 30, 1965, in what remain murky circumstances, six top generals were killed by a group allegedly consisting of left-wing Indonesians. This allowed a previously little-known military leader, General Suharto, to assume power and launch a nationwide campaign against the perpetrators of the killing, which, according to him, were the Indonesia Communist Party (PKI) and its left-wing allies. Within two years, Suharto was in firm control of the country, the PKI had been completely destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of Indonesians were dead.

Indonesia's mass killings rank alongside some of the bloodiest events in post-World War II history. The estimated death toll puts this event alongside the Korean War, or the Rwandan genocide in terms of bloodshed. Yet, unlike those two events, it receives little attention globally. Within Indonesia itself, the situation is worse.

"The younger generation has grown up with very little knowledge of anything about this period of time, unlike their parents who had swallowed government propaganda for years," said Tom Pepinsky, associate director of the Cornell University Modern Indonesia Project.

Throughout the Suharto era, which ran from 1965 to 1998, on October 1 each year, a controversial documentary, Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (The Treason of the September 30 Movement and the Indonesian Communist Party), was aired on television and shown in school. It greatly exaggerated the threat of a takeover by the PKI and honored the militias and military leaders who organized the mass killings.

Today, the documentary is no longer shown and the holiday celebrating the killings no longer celebrated, but teachings of the event take on either a strong nationalistic tone, or are completely ignored. Only in a few elite universities, such as Univeritas Indonesia, are students able to learn openly about what really happened in the 1960s.

This is part of the progress made since Suharto fell from power in 1998, during the Asian Financial Crisis. Then, Indonesia quickly moved to build a democracy that, contrary to the expectations of many, has survived and thrived.

The ease with which our fascist allies against communism--Spain, Portugal, Chile, the Philippines, Indonesia, etc.--transitioned to democracy after their internal threats were dealt with remains a forbidden topic.

Posted by at October 3, 2015 7:09 AM

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