ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le massacre oublié des communistes indonésiens
by Rosa Moussaoui
Translated Thursday 16 August 2012, by David Lundyand reviewed by
In Djakarta in late July, a national human rights commission presented a report describing the bloody anti-communist repression of 1965 as “crimes against humanity.”
For the first time in Indonesia, a step has been taken toward official recognition of the anti-communist massacres of 1965-1966, which cost the lives of a million men and women – and probably even more – who were members of, or real or supposed sympathizers with, the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). In late July a national human rights commission presented a report mentioning, with regard to this somber sequence of historical events, “flagrant violations of human rights” and “crimes against humanity.” The document goes back in detail over these mass crimes, which were supervised by General Suharto’s “command for the restoration of security and order,” before exhuming other aspects of the repression: enslavement, forced disappearances, deportations to concentration camps, torture, rape, and forced prostitution.
The PKI, which before its execution was a leading political force on the Indonesian archpelago, had 3.5 million members and 15 million sympathizers. Allied with the nationalist Sukarno, the communists became the target of unheard-of violence when in September 1965 generals said to be close to the PKI were accused of having fomented an attempted putsch. Suharto, backed by the United States, then led the bloody repression, mobilizing the religious right and reactionary forces. In 1966, Suharto deposed Sukarno, putting a permanent end to the original political experience initiated by that figure of the non-aligned movement and Third World-ism. The country then plunged into a long night until the dictator’s fall, when the people chased him from power in 1998. He then lived undisturbed until 2008 without having answered for his crimes.
For the survivors of the 1965 massacres and for the families of the victims, social marginalization and discrimination continue to the present. “As former political prisoners, it is difficult for us to obtain a bank loan or housing aid. We are banned from civil service jobs /…/ we cannot teach or become a doctor,” said Bedjo Untung, a concentration camp survivor, in answer to questions from the English-speaking Channel New Asia network. Nur Kholis, the president of the national human rights commission, enjoined the Indonesian government to apologize officially and to pay reparations to the victims. But in a country where a culture of impunity and collective amnesia still dominate, the defenders of human rights doubt that these recommendations will be followed. For their part, some survivors do not exclude having recourse to international courts.