News / Asia

New Book Examines Communist Rebellion in Indonesia, Aftermath

Members of the Youth Wing of the Indonesian Communist Party are guarded by soldiers as they are taken by an open truck to prison in Jakarta after they were rounded up by the army following a crackdown on communists after an attempted coup, Oct. 30, 1965.
Members of the Youth Wing of the Indonesian Communist Party are guarded by soldiers as they are taken by an open truck to prison in Jakarta after they were rounded up by the army following a crackdown on communists after an attempted coup, Oct. 30, 1965.
Many scenarios have been developed about the September 30, 1965 communist rebellion in Indonesia and its tragic aftermath, and the issue is still hotly debated among historians and other experts.  A new book, Indonesia and the World, 1965-66, attempts to look into the tragedy from an international context. 

The book is a compilation of various papers presented at a conference at the Goethe Institute in Jakarta in 2011.  Although what happened after September 30, 1965 has been recorded as an extremely tragic event, when perhaps millions of communists and suspected communists perished at the hands of the Indonesian military, the international community was totally silent.  One of the factors that contributed to this tragic outcome, according to Bernd Schaefer, one of the book’s principal editors, was the antagonism created by then-President Sukarno toward the West as well as toward the Soviet Union.

"From 1963 onward, Sukarno sided with China and its communist Asian allies to build a global movement of so-called newly emerging forces, Conefo, for the Third World, guided by Jakarta and Beijing," explained Schaefer.

This movement simultaneously challenged Western capitalist forces, the Soviet bloc, the non-bloc movement led by Yugoslavia, India and Egypt, as well as the United Nations. This ambitious foreign policy, conducted though partnership with China, was the greatest challenge to the U.S. and Soviet Union and made Indonesia the focus of the world at the height of the Cold War.

The international communist movement also played a role, according to Schaefer. In 1965, the communist world was divided between the Soviet Union and China.  As the third largest communist party in the world, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) was openly siding with Beijing, even to the extent that the PKI flouted the Soviet Union and its allies.  This situation explains why condemnation of the PKI massacre post-September 30 only came from China; the Soviet Union was silent on the matter.

"This international dimension clarifies why it was more important for the Soviet Union and its allies to renounce Chinese-inspired strategies rather than to engage in a sincere humanitarian appeal against the mass killings," said Schaefer.

Schaefer concluded that the Sino-Soviet schism made PKI powerless to face up to the Indonesian military campaign of 1965 and 1966. One could wonder about the possible effects of the PKI having been on friendlier terms with the Soviet Union and its allies; could a more aggressive Soviet Union intervention have prevented the Indonesian military from eradicating the PKI?

On the other hand, Western countries were concerned with Sukarno's anti-Western policies and wanted an Indonesia that was friendlier towards the West.  Thus, Schaefer says, the West not only stayed silent during the communist massacre in Indonesia but actively supported the Indonesian military in its efforts to find PKI members and their sympathizers.

"They also demonstrated how shockingly and eagerly leading western countries promoted and furthered the physical elimination of Communists … They are really sickening to a certain extent, to the extent that they are worried that not enough communists got purged and killed and eliminated, and actually joyed when it happened and at the opportunity now that the West has," said Schaefer.

With regard to the communist eradication in Indonesia and the absolute power that the military enjoyed for more than 32 years, Baskara Wardaya provided a grim picture of Indonesian history throughout that period.

"It was a change from a people-oriented government under Sukarno to an elite-oriented government under Suharto. Everything was centered in Jakarta; almost 80 percent of the money that circulated in Indonesia was in Jakarta.  What was also obvious, the change of the Indonesian government from being anti-foreign investment under President Sukarno, to a government that was promoting very much the presence of foreign investment in Indonesia with all its economic and development consequences," said Wardaya.

This book provides a fascinating historical overview of how Indonesia was the victim of global politics and the Cold War during its violent upheaval in 1965 and 1966.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael from: China
October 28, 2013 3:08 AM
Many people of Chinese descent were slaughted.More people were robbed and forced to leave the land .People stayed there were forbidden to learn their ancestor's language.Schools which teaching Chinese were closed.They treated our brothers and sisters worse than animals.Even today the discrimination towards the people of Chinese descent exists everywhere.Someday these crimes will be accounted .Be careful,Indonesian.

In Response

by: Wangchuk from: NY
October 28, 2013 10:16 AM
What the Indonesian govt did to ethnic Chinese in Indonesia is a terrible crime and there should be justice & reparations. But we should not forget the ongoing discrimination & human rights crimes by the CCP against Tibetans, Uighurs & Mongolians that has been going on to this day since the CCP forcibly took power in 1949. You can't complain about Indonesian discrimination against Chinese while ignoring Chinese discrimination against other ethnic groups.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid