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Indonesian Massacre Survivors Submit List of Mass Graves

A research group has presented Indonesia's government with a list of more than 100 alleged mass graves of victims of the 1965 anti-communist purge.

Survivors of Indonesia's anti-communist massacres in 1965 submitted a list of what they say are more than 100 mass graves to the government on Monday after the president called for an investigation into the killings.

Five survivors in their 70s, who founded the Research Foundation for 1965 Murder Victims, gave the documents to the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs, which is responsible for the probe.

The list is the product of research since 2000. The graves, located on the islands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Flores and Bali, account for nearly 14,000 victims, according to the group.

Historians say half a million people died in the months-long killing frenzy that began in October 1965 at the military’s instigation after suspected communists killed six right-wing generals in an attempted coup.

Security minister Luhut Pandjaitan was not on hand to receive the documents but his officials said he would meet with the group next week.

He was instructed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to oversee an investigation into the massacres after a conference last month, held by the government and rights groups, broke a half-century taboo on public discussion of the killings.

Luhut, a retired general, caused a stir at the event by saying that very few people were killed and vowing that the government never would apologize. He later demanded that rights groups prove the existence of mass graves.

Bedjo Untung, who heads the foundation, said it had documented the locations of 122 mass graves with the help of survivors and witnesses. These include people who dug the graves and buried the bodies.

“We believe this is only 2 percent of the victims,'' he said.

Kontras, an advocacy group, has refused to give its information about mass graves to the government out of fear it could be used by investigation opponents to conceal the truth.