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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid