Genocide

Jan 19th, 2008, in IM Posts, Opinion, by

Whether there was a genocide in 1965 and what happened to the survivors.

Wednesday's Jakarta Post saw yet another effusion of pinko propaganda from their comely but carping columnist Julia Suryakusuma.

She has long been a source of tiresome lefty whines, which is a pity because she is not without intellect and occasional humour, but this week she has climbed aboard the seemingly imminent Suharto hearse to bang on again about the Reds who got whacked back in 1965.

Suharto's deathbed, a nightly feature of tv at the moment, has induced me to revisit my books, and I note that claims of the death-toll in the post-Gestapu killing vary from Sukarno's 87,000 to the London Economist magazine's 1 million. Everybody else seems to have settled for about 500,000, many of them anti-communists murdered by Reds. But let's stick to the ones Julia and her sort care about.

Since the PKI Communist Party claimed 3 million members, plus assorted affiliates totalling at least another seven million plus, that would leave a huge number of Reds in pretty good shape to carry on their evil work. The interesting question is :- where did they go, and what are they up to these days, the ones who were young men and women in 1965? (Even if we exclude the peasants and labourers misled by lying propaganda, the PKI's actual membership should be supplemented by nasty off-shoots like the intellectuals' LEKRA and the Gerwani harpies. We're talking of millions of traitors - not all of them retired to write books or gone to meet their presumably displeased Maker).

Some of course fled to lands noted for true people's democracy, such as Red China (which naturally howled about the terrible "genocide" in Indonesia, oblivious to Mao's Marxist massacres (by deliberate famine as well as more conventional means) of 30 million, at the very least, innocent Chinese). Others did time, and emerged, a lot of them, still ranting and unrepentant (including one famous writer, who maintained a Pontius Pilate stance on his own collaboration with marxist treason).

But what about the vast majority?

From way back before 1965, it was standard Red practice to infiltrate other parties, and all areas of public life, including the Armed Forces. (Early examples of this include the notorious Syariffudin, who actually headed the national government briefly before being exposed and getting his just deserts before a firing squad, and the infiltration by Reds like Setiadjit and Tan Ling Djie of - respectively- the Labour Party and the Socialists).

So there would be quite a few sleepers already in place, all the better to facilitate lesser-known adherents when they needed a place to doss down for a few years. It defies all reason and logic that they would not do their utmost to burrow into positions of influence wherever they happened to be. That's what Communists do - it's their duty.

How many journalists from Harian Rakyat, the PKI rag, somehow got taken on by respectable media? Anyone who thinks Marxists should be allowed to work on honest papers should recall Sukirman, the PKI apparatchik who got his hands on Djakarta Radio. He declared early on that its role under his stewardship would be that of an instrument serving the cause of "Indonesian Socialism". About as objective as the recent Jakarta post "news" item on the Falkland Islands, an almost straight reprint from the Argentine Embassy hand-out.

How many politicians, indeed, how many in the military, kept their heads down on orders from the Politburo, hanging in there, grooming their successors carefully? Marxist attachment to the "iron law of history" surely leads them to take a long view. Forty years is a drop in the bucket.

This may well explain the constant harping of certain sections of the media and some politicians on the same themes that the inimitable Julia raised in her article, a long tirade in which she shamefully linked the real crimes of Suharto's regime (those poor students at Semanggi, for example) with the retribution earned by the Communists' vicious and arrogant lust for power (even Sukarno, a willing collaborator with the PKI's totalitarians, acknowledged that communists were like

rats which have eaten a part of a big cake and tried to eat the pillar of our house.

The Semanggi students were innocent, for pity's sakes! Aidit and his comrades wanted to wring democracy's neck.

What's the big deal that the PKI was outlawed? Canada banned the Communist Party for some time, as did the Federal Republic of Germany and Greece. Why? Because Parliament in Ottawa recognised that the C.P. would sell out their own country in time of war, if Stalin so ordered. Because the West Germans saw a third of their country enslaved behind barbed wire and machine-gun posts. Because the Greeks had seen at first hand the atrocities of Greek Communists in a bloody attempted seizure of power.

Indonesians are not fools. They were aware of what would befall their fragile freedoms if the Reds took power. It was the people who did most of the killing, not the Army, which actually reined in the onslaught, notably in Bali. Julia has a go at the N.U.'s role, but it was hardly a Muslim monopoly that exacted vengeance for Communist misdeeds. The Balinese are Hindu and in Sulawesi Christians played a part in curbing the menace.

Of course, Julia puts "Communists" in inverted commas, as if to say that the victims were not really Marxist at all. Aidit would turn in his grave, since he and his pals were dedicated lifelong Stalinist hacks. The PKI stabbed Indonesia in the back at Madiun in 1948, rising in armed revolt to set up a local soviet while decent folk were out fighting the Dutch.

But Julia would maybe excuse such treason. She has not written much about the pre-1965 PKI's constant apologia's for subversion and dictatorship. She hasn't published much in the JP on her views on Communist concentration camps, like Belene in Bulgaria, or the ones in Germany which the Soviet Union's puppets took over from the Nazis and put to much the same use. But of course the PKI weren't a violent lot, were they?

In 1965 the 100,000 guns that Air Marshal Dhani was busily preparing to bring in from Red China were perhaps on order for hunting wild animals, in Julia's fevered mind, and the Gerwani vixens and Pemuda Rakyat thugs training under military instruction out by Halim were just enjoying some calisthenics. Sure, Julia, cover up the evil as you please.

After all, as you say, one of your concerns is whether "the left" will achieve a resurgence in Indonesia. So are you calling for a new social democrat party or a Communist revival? If the former, would they be honest labour democrats, like Saragat's Social Democrats in post-war Italy, or folk like Mandelson in Britain, who have yet to publicly recant the obnoxious creed they adhered to until electability became prominent in their minds? As for a revived PKI, it would be an insult to the millions worldwide who died at the hands of Communism. That is a genocide worth remembering.


90 Comments on “Genocide”

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  1. avatar Dragonwall says:
    January 19th, 2008 at 4:10 am

    Genocide is always something that has to do with political struggle where a person in power needs a bunker to rely on in achieving their endeavor.

    Indonesia is no exception, during the period of Soekarno the emergence of Soeharto seemed right for him to have a reason to crash in on Soekarno whom was pro Red. Thus the G30SPKI which was thought to be irks of Chinese where scapegoat comes ahandy for them to carry out clandestine operation with regardless.

    So what was implanted in the minds as to psychological brainwash had become effective that the majority take for granted that the Chinese were to be blamed when they knowing seemed to have easily overlooked the jobs Chin Peng of Malaysia by directing all shots to the Chinese.

    It was also much debated that many pris took the fall, but till this day no body counts was accounted for the Chinese.

    Whether Soeharto dies or not is not the prime criteria at this moments as most clerics are on the move towards another direction as opposed to the government, embarked on the road to a gnocide of another kind against the Chinese or minorities.

    The bottomline is that Soeharto will receive a hell of a send off upon his demise.

  2. avatar John Orford says:
    January 19th, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    What a monotonous rant!

    Thousands of innocent people were killed. All these people were guilty of was being associated with a *legal* party.

    And all you seem to care about are the sleepers etc. Bonkers, completely f*cking bonkers.

  3. avatar Dragonwall says:
    January 20th, 2008 at 12:36 am

    (1) All these people were guilty of was being associated with (2) a *legal* party.

    (1) Are you referring to the dead? (2) And that the *legal party* meaning?

  4. avatar Sputjam says:
    January 20th, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    during the “cold war’. between communism and the west, it was winner takes all. If the reds had taken over indonesia, I am sure another form of genocide would have taken place.

    Some countries that were taken over by the reds included combodia, and we all know what happened over there.

  5. avatar John Orford says:
    January 20th, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    dragonwall> I was referring to the dead. but why stop there, I could also refer to the people imprisoned, tortured, exiled, excommunicated.

    PKI was a legal party under Sukarno, as legal as PDI-P and other parties are today.

    Sputjam> so are you implying that killing so many innocent people may have been acceptable because the Communists might have killed more? Utterly insane.

  6. avatar Dragonwall says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 2:27 am

    Under Soekarno, he was known to be pro Commuist with ties to the Reds, but it was not known that PKI is a legal party I guess. When Soeharto starts his move on the communist elements, I suppose the army or those informants took for granted most Chinese are communist. Claims were made that many pris died, but I am sure more Chinese had died for the cause of their political leaders. The actual facts about chinese involvement in communism was too vague which I tend to believe that the main cause of this clandestine operation is actually a coup d’etat.

  7. avatar spew-it-all says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 6:21 am

    Under Soekarno, he was known to be pro Commuist with ties to the Reds, but it was not known that PKI is a legal party I guess

    Dragonwall, the PKI was indeed a legal party during Sukarno. If you read any history books regarding what has happened in 1965, you will certainly find that the Communist party was legal. John Rossa’s reappraisal on this account is worth piece of reading in order to enrich our knowledge on 65.

    In 1965 the 100,000 guns that Air Marshal Dhani was busily preparing to bring in from Red China were perhaps on order for hunting wild animals, in Julia’s fevered mind, and the Gerwani vixens and Pemuda Rakyat thugs training under military instruction out by Halim were just enjoying some calisthenics. Sure, Julia, cover up the evil as you please.

    Ross, I was wondering if you can share with me the context of the training carried out in Lubang Buaya which was under Halim supervision?

    As for genocide, i am not sure if this is the right term for it. However grim and horrific the event is, it may not be genocide.

    These days, genocide is rather a rethoric within human rights activists.

  8. avatar Janma says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Dragonwall, of course the PKI was a legal party!!! That is actually democracy….. it’s supposed to allow political freedom.
    As for Ross….. so funny…. looking for the commies…… they are under my bed Ross!

    About the people in Bali killed during that time? I have asked many many balinese who had family who were lost in that time. most of them knew nothing about communisim. some just went to painting classes at the wrong place, and it turned out the head of the sanggar was PKI.
    However a large majority were killed because their enemies saw all the chaos and free for all killing going on and decided to finally get retribution for that land deal gone wrong, or the unfair warisan, or the girl who they wouldn’t give in marriage to so and so.
    so Ross, no matter how intense your fear of the communists is, there is no way that what happened in 65 and 66 was an appropriate or desirable response to the problem.

  9. avatar Oigal says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Australia used to ban the Communist Party as well, but then they woke up and realised that in an open society with free debate such flawed thinking does not withstand the light of serious scrutiny..much like Ross’s posts.

    P.S. Ross didn’t you just embarass yourslef before xmas with this topic..you don’t want people calling you a one trick pony do you..

  10. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Check this out, Oigal.

    However a large majority were killed because their enemies saw all the chaos and free for all killing going on and decided to finally get retribution for that land deal gone wrong, or the unfair warisan, or the girl who they wouldn’t give in marriage to so and so.
    so Ross, no matter how intense your fear of the communists is, there is no way that what happened in 65 and 66 was an appropriate or desirable response to the problem.

    A bit inconvenient for you, isn’t it ? It’s inconvenient when reality clashes with our opinions, poor people say the wrong thing, and, oh, ’65-’66 was a big communal massacre as well. Indonesians killing Indonesians, neighbours killing neighbours.

    A lot of people want to blame one man – Soeharto – for everything because the truth is much darker and more disturbing. If Soeharto was the engineer of the whole slaughter, calmly shifting military levers, middle class Westerners might have a frame of reference – Hitler. Instead, it was those nice little villagers killing each other over an extra sawah.

    Go for gold, Australia.

  11. avatar Andrew says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Suharto killed 1 million innocent chinese indonesian ( 90% are not communists) from 1965 to 1975. This is a war crime and genocide against chinese. Bring suharto to justice by red china army, singapore army. All chinese must destroy his cemetery and his remain if he die.

    Chinese who will revenge to suharto.

  12. avatar Oigal says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Mmm Its a very narrow bridge you are straddling Assmad..

  13. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Tell you what, just for an experiment, perhaps you privately ask some ordinary people in their life what they think of Soeharto. But more importantly, as a conversation and not a survey or poll.

    Then you could gently probe why they have the opinions they do. Then you can get beyond the 1 dimensional, deceptive survey routine. Just recollections of their life and what they want from a leader. I’m not asking you to share it with IM.

    Just for an experiment. Just to see what they say. No ?

  14. avatar Janma says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Achmad, when I mentioned in my post about people killing people in Bali, that doesn’t explain the initial furor that caused the chaos…. sure soeharto didn’t kill all those people, but he whipped up the furor that caused all these people to run amok. the radio and tv was putting out gruesome details (untrue) of gerwani women dancing naked at lubang buaya and doing perverted things to the generals….. they incited the massacre, even he never got his hands bloody.
    About the “ordinary people” in Indonesia… what you really mean is the head count right? uneducated masses…. these people are like children mostly, they want to be controlled and told what to do. They want a leader like Soeharto, and they deserve it too….
    I wonder if we ask the chinese, the papuans and other groups outside of Java Bali what they think about Soeharto?

  15. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Janma,

    Good point. It’d be good to get the input of people from Aceh, Papua, and East Timor, not to mention people with families of those killed at Tanjung Priok or at Lampung. I daresay we’d get a different opinion.

    But when you say:

    these people are like children mostly, they want to be controlled and told what to do

    What do you mean, exactly ? I wanted to say that the opinions of the people we spoke to in our little survey, certainly mean no more than people on IM, but no less. If the above statement is right, maybe I’m wrong.

    Soeharto also thought, the people were like children and needed to be controlled. I’m not sure if I agree as many of them have families, jobs, and take important decisions all the time. They can certainty vote these days. Or maybe that was a mistake too.

  16. avatar WP says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 1:11 am

    I thought it was just me who don’t understand, for the n-th times, the subtle cynism Ross wrote (no pun meant here; I really thought I miss something).
    But without reading anything between the lines, I find this article very twisted. How can we, from our 20-th century frame of mind, justify a massacre just based on a very vague premise that the communists were plotting an even bigger massacre?? I also find it a bit disrespectful.

  17. avatar Dragonwall says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 3:42 am

    Spew it all / Janma..I like to admit that but it fails to convince me that OKI is a legal party and that it spelts democracy.

    When the UU 1945 was to guide the country into a more democracy future away from the dutch, thos words in it were spelts clearly on how the country should be guided into her paths. As to communist, we all can see the Leninist, Marxist, Red China North Korea how were they doing under the communist rules? Is that democracy? It was not. If Indonesia was supposedly to be led into democracy by Sukarno, then why the army is not agreeing into that and stage the coup?

    In words, yes a new country, state , nation is born..oh everybody is talking about freedom and democracy..but how fee and democratic are they? Take Tim Tim for example.

    So communist had no democracy, no rights and no freedom..like what we know of in China and Russia.

    Therefore when Soeharto stage the coup, then the operation should constitute and be construed as genocide.

    Democracy does not stomach communism.

  18. avatar Teng says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 5:00 am

    it fails to convince me that OKI is a legal party and that it spelts democracy.

    Well it was. This is not a matter of convincing… it was a registered party and it was not banned.. hence it was legal. They participated in elections, got a lot of votes etc etc.

    Problem with communist parties (same as with fascist ones btw) is that when they are in power… they have the tendency to suddenly ban all other parties. So I agree with you communism and democracy in the end don’t go hand in hand, but that does not change the fact that it was legal.

    Suharto’s two party system (Golkar was actually not officially a party… a nice trick to be able to campaign 24-7-365) wasn’t a real shining example of democracy either btw ;)

  19. avatar spew-it-all says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 5:21 am

    Dragonwall
    It’s up to you, i think. If you don’t want to believe that the PKI was a legal party. But i am afraid this belief might lead you to making mistake when you are analysing communism in Indonesia.

    Janma

    these people are like children mostly, they want to be controlled and told what to do. They want a leader like Soeharto, and they deserve it too”¦.

    In what context you are making this statement, Janma? I am worried that this notion pretty much reflects middle classes’ perspective which is often very condescending towards the lower classes.

    Not all of the killings were caused by dispute over sawah or the rejection of marriage’s proposal. However, when the communist hunt began, it gave a glorious opportunity for denunciation.

    Ahmad, there must be a reason why a lot of people want to blame Suharto for this. He was assigned by Sukarno to resolve the conflict and this means he has authority to do so. Also remember that one of points in the statement released by the newly Security and Order Command (which was also under Suharto) was to eliminate communism till its roots. Interestingly, from what i heard during interview with witnesses and survivors, killings took place soon after the arrival of RPKAD. Before the arrival, tension hightened between communist members and muslims youth and others.

    I reckon we should go back to Ross’ article and raise a question of his knowledge on 1965 massacre. Did he just use Suryakusumah’s article as an opportunity to express his anti-communist pespective?

  20. avatar Oigal says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 7:31 am

    “Democracy does not stomach communism” actually a mature democracy does..the key word being mature democracy.

    just for an experiment, perhaps you privately ask some ordinary people in their life what they think of Soeharto. But more importantly, as a conversation

    and the answer will be things were much better then, in fact you don’t have to ask only ordinary Indonesians, the vast majority of expats will say the same thing (better security, better business and whats a few dead un’s along the way..)

    Of course, does that mean the big “S” was a fine and noble man or that so called leaders and champions since the days of pillage have betrayed their mandate.

  21. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Folks,

    Discussion might benefit from some clarity on whether we’re looking for the moral case against Soeharto versus the legal one.

    The legal case will be nigh impossible, especially now. You’d presumable be looking at chain-of-command arguments, against Soeharto. They couldn’t pin anything on Wiranto over East Timor in 1999. That was the internet era when most people involved are still alive.

    Another problem is the involvement of the civilian militia and groups like the NU. As Ibu Janma points out, the army broadcast nasty Gerwani propaganda and stuff. But legally, does that rob a machete-wielder of responsibility ? I’m sure, say, many Acehnese Pesantren boys were more than happy to play chop suey with the local PKI cadres.

    Morally and philosophically
    no one will ever agree. A range of different groups seem to see Soeharto very differently, just like they see 1965-66 differently. Old generation TNI, Western Indonesia resident, Western journalist, former Indonesian student, Kampung people. Soeharto affected all of them differently and their opinions reflect that.

  22. avatar TheWrathOfGrapes says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Many Chinese were indiscriminately killed under the guise of eliminating “suspected” communists. The question remained, how can the bullets tell which Chinese was a communist?

    The Bloody Days of October
    Once Suharto and the Generals had finished crushing Untung’s rising, they led a massacre to eliminate every suspected communist in Indonesia, every leader, member and sympathiser of the PKI that they could lay their hands on. These murders were carried out in the most gruesome and horrifying ways. The number of dead is disputed; Sukarno admitted 78,000 dead, but some sources claim the death toll reached a million. While, during the massacre, the US embassy was delighted to receive frequent updates on the PKI leaders being tracked down and killed, from their “shooting list” of 5,000 people, a CIA study later noted that “In terms of the numbers killed the anti-PKI massacres in Indonesia rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century”

    http://www.fifthinternational.org/index.php?id=237,1077,0,0,1,0

  23. avatar Neil of Newcastle says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Where are the dead buried? If ‘one million’ were killed, then there must be some bodies somewhere. Where are they?

  24. avatar WP says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I totally aggree with Achmad last post!

  25. avatar dewaratugedeanom says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Janma said

    About the “ordinary people” in Indonesia”¦ what you really mean is the head count right? uneducated masses”¦. these people are like children mostly, they want to be controlled and told what to do. They want a leader like Soeharto, and they deserve it too”¦.

    I still remember the first multi-party elections in the villages after the toppling of Suharto. People thought they shouldn’t speak to each other any longer if they voted for a different party. But it’s getting better now. Even the latest bupati election here in Gianyar, although a lively campaign and close-to-home, went smoothly without disruption. Democracy doesn’t come overnight, whatever the Americans may believe. It takes time and education for the people to assume their political responsibilities.

  26. avatar Dragonwall says:
    January 23rd, 2008 at 6:11 am

    the key word being mature democracy.

    I very much agree to that but for Indonesia? Until today there has never been such a thing as mature.

    Of course, does that mean the big “S” was a fine and noble man or that so called leaders and champions since the days of pillage have betrayed their mandate.

    He may not be what was thought to be a noble fine man who is accused of betraying their mandate. For 250 million with not one thinking but perhaps 250 million thinking to be under control is surely a mammoth task to do. You can have one kind of rice to feed a million people, but you can’t have a million type of rice to feed one kind of people, right?

    So if you weigh the mandate and the pillage, one will have to make a choice, take a stance, make the rule.

    So for her people if the mountain does not bend, road will have to bend. And if the road doesn’t bend then the people have to bend. The basic philosophy of life.

    But for this instance it is about the killing of innocent people who were thought to be communist PKI activist, which majority is not, and is Soekarno or soeharto to take the blame. And the latter day Timor case who is to take the blame, Wiranto? And the 98 riot who to take the blame, Wiranto or Prabowo. It will just go on.

  27. avatar Janma says:
    January 23rd, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Saying the head count are like children is a discriminatory statement, I know… but I still stand beside it. They are. Throughout history they always have been. Until they get mad. Then it’s a different story. I make this statement after many years of living with these type of people, here, and in India.

    An example of this sort mind set or attitude is like when I told you of our local school. Teachers are corrupt, never teach the kids, sit on the verandah’s smoking and smsing while the kids run wild…. parents attitude? We can’t do anything, that’s the governments job. This is the attitude of a child. They don’t pay any tax, but they expect the government to take care of everything….. they like soeharto because he treated them like children. they could be as apathetic as they like… it was all taken care of.

    I’ll probably get shouted down for this, and maybe i should be shouted down… but that attitude drives me crazy…. and I don’t want to hear stories of how hard their lives have been and no education etc….. people have the power to choose.
    I was an abandoned child, I didn’t have an easy time from the word go. I barely finished primary school… but I educated myself and I’m damn sure I wouldn’t be handing over my fate to any government or any representitive thereof.

    It means thinking about the whole picture, the future of your nation and your children. Not just thinking about is my belly full and can I get money.

  28. avatar spew-it-all says:
    January 23rd, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Thanks for your explanation Janma. I am pretty sure that you are aware about condescending tone in your post.

    However, my objection is that you are not generalising it, perceiving them as childish and therefore favor Suharto. I assume if these people have similar opportunity to up themselves into a higher level of social stratification then they may talk with the same tone as you.

  29. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:
    January 23rd, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Janma,

    [Apologies for repetition if earlier post wasn't deleted as I thought it was]

    Well, Janma, kudos for sticking to your guns. But,

    * If they do have agency, and are responsible, shouldn’t ordinary people share the blame for the massacres ? We can’t blame it all on the military and Suharto.

    * If they are indeed childlike, what was Suharto supposed to do? How was he supposed to treat them? It’s hard to get people to change. Chicken and egg question.

    No easy answers. But newspaper editorial cliches about Indonesia, Suharto, and ’65-’66 won’t help anything.

  30. avatar Janma says:
    January 24th, 2008 at 11:06 am

    * If they do have agency, and are responsible, shouldn’t ordinary people share the blame for the massacres ? We can’t blame it all on the military and Suharto.

    Yes, if they do have agency (?) and are responsible the ordinary people who went out chopping should also share the blame. But do they have agency? Are they responsible? Or are they just puppets (little chucky like puppets!) in the hands of a master dalang who knew exactly how to play on everyones weaknesses?

    * If they are indeed childlike, what was Suharto supposed to do? How was he supposed to treat them? It’s hard to get people to change. Chicken and egg question.

    He was supposed to educate them, not keep them stupid.

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