Dr Iwan Suwandy , MHA



Copyright @ 2013





Driwancybermuseum Homeoffic 

Copyrught @ Dr Iwan suwandy,MHA 2013

Forbidden to copy without written permission by the author

21 Maret 1968

Pertengahan Maret BK menyatakan ingin pulang ke Bogor. Padahal Oei Hong Kian akan memasang tambalan emas pada gigi BK. Diantara dua sahabat itu berjanji akan bertemu untuk terakhir kalinya 21 Maret 1968.


Ternyata antara tanggal 21-30 Maret 1968 ada Sidang Umum MPRS, Oei Hong Kian diberitahu pihak berwajib bahwa BK tidak bisa datang pada tanggal itu.


Ternyata pada hari-hari berikut pun BK tidak datang. Padahal tanggal 30 Maret Oei Hong Kian harus berangkat. Terpaksa pemasangan tambalan emas pada gigi BK dipercayakan kepada rekannya sejawat.


Dan sejak itu Oei Hong Kian tidak pernah lagi bertemu dengan BK, yang tersisa adalah cedera mata dari BK yang senatisa mengingatkan drg. Oei Hong Kian bahwa dia pernah menjalin persahabat dengan BK disaat kekuasaan tak lagi di tangan BK. Dan mungkin Oei Hong Kian hanya bagian dari segelintir orang yang berani menjalin persahabatan dengan BK disaat Putera Sang Fajar akan menjelang runtuh







On Trial by the Dutch Government for his nationalist activities
Convicted-Imprisoned-Exiled until Japanese inasion


17 August 1945
Proclamation of Independence


1945 August
Interviewed by the Foreign Press


2nd Dutch Police Action
Exiled to Bangka


1949 December
Alhamdulillah – We are Free


President Republic of Indonesia



18 April 1955
Opening speech at the Asia-Africa Conference
“Let a new Asia and Africa be born”


A Famous Orator


October 1965
Funeral procession of the victims of the Gestapu affair


Mourning the victims


Visiting the graves



11 March 1966 
Supersemar document mystery – Transfer of Power???


July 1966
Addressing cabinet session


17 August 1966
Leaving the ceremony after his last Independence Day speech


October 1966
Ambassador Green – GeneralSuharto


Indonesia 1965
A power move with far-reaching implications
by Clinton Fernandes; October 16, 2005

On September 1, 1965, the US State Department prepared a Special National Intelligence Estimate for Indonesia.
Written by the
Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organisations of the Departments of State and Defence and the National Security Agency, it assessed the prospects for, and strategic implications of, a communist takeover
in Indonesia.

It assessed that the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) was “by far the best organised and most dynamic entity in Indonesia”.


Only a few months later, the PKI would cease to exist.
Its destruction, according to former US ambassador Marshall Green,
“was a momentous event in world affairs, and I don’t think that the press and the public
has ever seen it that way”


This article will discuss aspects of that event


Indonesia after independence

Indonesian independence was proclaimed on August 17, 1945. There followed a four-year guerrilla war to defeat Dutch attempts to recolonise the territory. The Dutch conceded defeat in 1949, and Indonesia’s political independence was assured. The newly independent state assigned a high priority to the education of its population, establishing schools
and literacy programs at a rapid rate. It was quite successful in its efforts: in 1950, basic literacy was estimated at
about 10 per cent of the population and only 230 Indonesians had received tertiary education. Ten years later, almost
every village had a school and basic literacy was nearly 80 per cent. Tertiary education had also shot up dramatically.

Formal schooling was only one aspect of the new, post-independence culture. The public began to participate in politics to a much greater extent. Centuries of colonisation had stifled popular involvement in the social, political and cultural spheres. Such involvement had grown fitfully in the final decades of the independence struggle, although colonial repression remained a significant constraining factor. With political independence, however, a more participatory culture took shape. The social and cultural spheres were occupied by numerous organisations such as credit unions, chess clubs, prayer groups, housewives’ associations, cultural groups, worker and peasant unions, youth groups and student bodies. These diverse organisations were associated with certain political parties. The combination of political party and associated organisations came to be known as cultural streams or ‘aliran’. The years after independence brought the growth of several such aliran, which were an everyday affair ie more than simply a machine for generating votes in the lead-up to an election campaign. Many Indonesian citizens saw these aliran as constituting their primary identity. As a result, political life beame connected to the population’s social and cultural life.

Australian planners recognised that Indonesia had “a strong Communist Party with considerable prospects of increasing its popular appeal”.4 The Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) defended the interests of the poor and was rapidly increasing its support among landless peasants. The PKI was allied with the left wing of the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI). Under this allied leadership, an organised movement of workers and peasants campaigned for the redistribution of land in the countryside, the nationalisation of foreign companies and greater economic equality. It opposed the US war in Vietnam and supported national liberation movements around the world.

The PKI was no tool of China or the Soviet Union, however. According to a standard source on the subject, the PKI “had won widespread support not as a revolutionary party but as an organisation defending the interests of the poor within the existing system”. As the US’s Special National Intelligence Estimate put it, should the PKI come to power, its “foreign policy decisions . would stress Indonesian national interests above those of Peking, Moscow, or international communism in general”. It “would be sufficiently nationalistic to refuse to grant air or naval bases or missile sites to either Moscow or Peking”.6

The Australian government viewed the PKI’s growing support with alarm. Australian strategic planners shared this concern, warning that a communist victory “would be a considerable blow to Western prestige in South East Asia and would assist in the growth of Communist and neutralist sentiment throughout the area”.7 Subsequent analysis by US intelligence agreed, observing that in the longer term “Indonesia would provide a powerful example for the underdeveloped world and hence a credit to communism and a setback for Western prestige.”8

The reference to “neutralist sentiment” is instructive. As a leading anti-colonialist advocate and founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia wielded great influence in the Third World. Australian planners feared that other countries would join it in pursuing similar goals and choose their own path of economic and social development. By the mid-1950s, Indonesia’s non-alignment, coupled with the growing popularity of the PKI, was a matter of serious concern to Western policymakers. US President Eisenhower wondered out loud, ‘Why the hell did we ever urge the Dutch to get out of Indonesia?’9 The US, with Australian participation, tried to break up Indonesia by encouraging an outer islands rebellion on Sumatra and Sulawesi. The Indonesian military demonstrated its strength by crushing this rebellion. The US therefore realised the importance of cultivating the military, and began providing it with limited military aid in order to sustain anti-communist elements in the officer corps.

Until 1957 the PKI had been excluded from government, but it benefited from the system of so-called Guided Democracy. This system was proposed by President Sukarno, who argued that the indigenous Indonesian way of deciding important questions was to have extensive deliberation (musyawarah) designed to achieve a consensus (mufakat). Since this “democracy with guidance” operated at the village level, he argued that it should be the model for the nation. Guided Democracy would consist of a government based on the four main political parties plus a national council representing the parties and “functional groups” – workers, peasants, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, religious bodies, youth groups, women’s groups, and so on. Under presidential guidance, a national consensus could be formulated.

From 1957 onwards, Dutch-owned assets in Indonesia were occupied in a series of direct actions, and then nationalised as part of a campaign for the recovery of West Irian. The army took over the management of these plantations, mines and other estates. Military entrepreneurs began to play a strong role in the domestic economy. (In later years, it became customary to attribute the decline in the productivity of these assets to the influence of the PKI. In fact, however, they declined under military management.) The influence of the PKI continued to increase. Its members began to hold a range of bureaucratic and political posts. From 1957, several cities on Java had communist mayors and several provincial governors were close to the party. However, the PKI and the left wing of the PNI did not occupy any but the most symbolic positions in Cabinet. Control over the productive capacity of the economy rested in the hands of senior bureaucrats and military officers, who did not support Sukarno’s economic program. It was they – not Sukarno or the PKI – who implemented strategic economic decisions. As for Cabinet, it too disagreed with Sukarno in the economic sphere.

When John F. Kennedy became president of the United States, there was a tactical shift in US policy towards Indonesia. Kennedy and several of his key officials on the National Security Council believed that Eisenhower’s approach had been counter-productive, driving Indonesia even further away from US influence. They therefore used a more tolerant rhetoric toward the Non-Aligned Movement, and received Sukarno amiably in Washington in April 1961. The Dutch were persuaded to leave West Irian soon after.

Growth of the Indonesian Communist Party

Between 1960 and 1965, the PKI and its allied peasant organisations began to carry out a program of land seizures in order to make landlords comply with existing laws. These actions resulted in violent responses by landlords, and fights between security forces and peasants. Mass mobilisations began to increase very rapidly, with large protests in the main cities and a growing number of smaller protests in other towns and villages. The party also took up the cause of plantation and industrial workers in North Sumatra, and of Javanese migrants in North and South Sumatra. It supported Hindus against East Javanese orthodox Muslims who were members of the local elite, as well as opponents of Hindu priestly authority in Bali. All this grassroots activity contributed to a major increase in the membership of the PKI and the left wing of the PNI. By 1965, the PKI had three million members and was said to be the largest communist party in the world outside the Soviet Union and China. In addition to its vast membership, more than 15 million people had indirect connections to it through their membership of the peasant associations, labour unions and other affiliates.

The PKI was opposed by sections of the commercial and land-owning establishment, senior figures in the bureaucratic apparatus, and a number of right-wing intellectuals and students. This conservative alliance also had the support of a large number of smaller Islamic parties. Crucially, it was backed by the powerful – and increasingly apprehensive – Indonesian military. While there were important left-wing and populist forces within the army itself, the right wing was always stronger. Indeed the army had demonstrated its power and right-wing credentials in 1948 when it put down an uprising supported by the PKI in the Madiun region of Central Java. The divisions in Indonesian society were reflected in an increasingly tense situation inside the army as well. In subsequent years, particularly from 1962-65, there were sharp internal struggles between left-wing populists and right-wing forces within the army.

In late 1963, US policy became more aggressive. Lyndon Johnson had succeeded Kennedy as president, and his “personal antipathy toward Sukarno, along with several important bureaucratic changes . combined to introduce a far less forgiving stance toward Indonesian actions in the Far East Bureau of the State Department and on McGeorge Bundy’s National Security Council (NSC) staff'”.10 This policy shift coincided with regional friction as Indonesia challenged Britain’s role in the creation of Malaysia. In March next year, after an American magazine called for the US to end all aid unless Indonesian attacks on Malaysia were halted, Sukarno said in a speech in Jakarta that he would tell any country that tried to attach strings to its foreign assistance, “You can go to hell with your aid.” This remark (made in English) was widely reported in the US. All US aid came to an end, except for “military assistance” intended for the Indonesian army.

Western intelligence analysts turned their attention to Sukarno, describing him as an “intuitive politician” and a “mass leader of extraordinary skill”. State Department analysts believed that Sukarno operated according to “opportunistic, play-it-by-ear policies rather than by a long-range fixed plan”. The CIA concluded that his “Marxist inclination”‘ were “largely emotionally based”. It characterised his relationship with the Communists as one of “mutual exploitation”. Sukarno needed the PKI because he lacked a mass political organisation of his own; the PKI needed Sukarno for protection against the army. As for the army, Sukarno used it to counterbalance the PKI, and the army saw Sukarno as the best person to hold the far-flung and diverse parts of Indonesia together.11

Strengthening the Indonesian military

It became clear to US policymakers that the Indonesian army’s hand would have to be strengthened. US ambassador to Malaysia James Bell, who had had considerable previous Indonesian experience, suggested reassuring the army that the West would not interfere if it moved against the PKI: “If we can give them this kind of shot in the arm they might have more inclination to act.”12 McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor to President Johnson, sent Bell’s memo to Chester Cooper, his senior assistant on the Far East. He wrote, “Cooper: It makes sense to me. Can we do it? MG.B.” US ambassador to Indonesia Howard Jones argued against Bell, warning that such an approach “would rebound as [an] unwarranted attempt [to] interfere internally”. Cooper therefore wrote back to Bundy, attaching his note to the cables from Bell and Jones: “Mac – You asked my views on the coming from Malaya (attached). I have brooded and have checked around and agree with Jones. Chet.”13

Ambassador Jones approached a friendly Indonesian diplomat, asking what would happen if Sukarno were “suddenly removed from the scene”. The diplomat predicted a polarisation of the country around Defence Minister Nasution and D.N. Aidit, the head of the PKI. He said that General Nasution was “the strongest man in the country” who had the loyalty of the officer corps. Jones visited Nasution three days later, asking him “whether some military leaders welcomed the disintegration of the economy on the theory that the PKI would make a bid for power and the military could then crack down on the PKI”. Nasution “avoided like the plague any discussion of a possible military takeover, even though this hovered in the air throughout the talk, and at no time did he pick up obvious hints of US support in time of crisis”. But Nasution had obviously talked it over with his fellow generals, for they met two weeks later. This time Nasution assured the ambassador that the military was “strongly pro-US and anti-PKI”. He said the PKI was probably unprepared to make a bid for power, but if it did, “Madiun would be mild compared with an army crackdown today.”14. The US kept encouraging the Indonesian military to increase the pressure on Sukarno. The 303 Committee of the National Security Council approved a CIA-State Department political action program aimed at portraying the PKI “as an increasingly ambitious, dangerous opponent of Sukarno and legitimate nationalism and instrument of Chinese neo-imperialism”.15 Western policymakers knew that it would be folly to take on Sukarno directly because of his tremendous popularity.

In April 1965, President Johnson dispatched his special envoy Ellsworth Bunker to Indonesia. Bunker reported back that relations with Indonesia were unlikely to improve. He confirmed that Sukarno “is still the symbol for Indonesian unity and independence, believes in himself and his destiny, and is able and shrewd. There is little question of his continued hold on the loyalty of the Indonesian people, who in large measure look to him for leadership, trust his leadership, and are willing to follow him. No force in this country can attack him nor is there evidence that any significant group would want to do so.”16 As for the PKI, Bunker argued that its strengths were “powerful organisation”, “brilliant manipulation of other political forces”, “dominance in the labour field”, and “virtual control of the national press and radio”. Its weaknesses were that: “The bulk of its strength is in Java, a handicap in a country where animosity against Javanese is strong in the outer islands; it has no paramilitary arm to challenge the army, although it is now making strong efforts to build one; and its freedom of action remains limited by the need to continue a subservient posture toward Sukarno.”17

Indonesia’s poor economic performance under military management was compounded by the fact that sales of rubber, its major export earner, were shrinking as a result of competition from synthetic alternatives. Indonesia was therefore deprived of an important source of foreign currency. Despite the economic problems, Bunker noted the country’s “resilience to economic adversity” because “over half the population live outside the monetised sector of the economy as self-sufficient farmers”.18 As for the Indonesian government, it “occupies a dominant position in basic industry, public utilities, internal transportation and communication”. Bunker warned that should the drift towards PKI dominance continue: “It is probable that private ownership will disappear and may be succeeded by some form of production-profit-sharing contract arrangements to be applied to all foreign investment.” In Bunker’s assessment: “The avowed Indonesian objective is ‘to stand on their own feet’ in developing their economy, free from foreign, especially Western, influence.”19

Bunker advised that the US should reduce its visibility “so that those opposed to the communists and extremists may be free to handle a confrontation, which they believe will come, without the incubus of being attacked as defenders of the neo-colonialists and imperialists”.20 He warned against any attempt to foment military rebellion along the lines of 1958 because “the ideal of national unity is an overriding obsession with practically all Indonesians, stronger by far than any real divisive regional feeling”.21

Accordingly, the US adopted a “low silhouette” policy; its official presence “shrank from over 400 in April to only 35 in August. But the CIA station maintained its staff of 12, including its full complement of eight clandestine operatives responsible for intelligence collection and, on occasion, covert action. Similarly, the top personnel in the Embassy’s political section and the military attaches remained.”22 Soon after, Marshall Green replaced Howard Jones as the new ambassador to Indonesia. He arrived in Jakarta on July 23, 1965.23 Green “had the complete trust of the State Department”, which “never moved a muscle without his advice”.24

The mutiny Tensions within a now thoroughly polarised Indonesian society continued to build, until they exploded into open conflict on the evening of September 30, 1965, when a small number of middle-ranking, left-wing army officers staged a mutiny. The mutineers killed six generals (Yani, Suprapto, Parman, Sutojo, Harjono and Panjaitan) and a lieutenant (Tendean). The circumstances of this mutiny have never been fully explained, but there are good reasons to believe that it was designed to prevent a coup by a right-wing Council of Generals. However, the mutineers – led by Lieutenant Colonel Untung, a left-wing commander in the Presidential Guard – failed to arrest key generals, including Major General Suharto. Strong evidence suggests that Suharto had been tipped off beforehand about the mutiny.

The mutiny did not appear to have planned in much detail – no serious measures were taken to seize choke points in the capital. The worker and peasant movements had been given no forewarning, and most of them were caught unawares. The PKI did not try to mobilise its massive party membership. According to a US clandestine source, the PKI central committee reacted only after hearing the mutineers’ radio broadcast. Sir Andrew Gilchrist, the British ambassador, also suspected that the PKI had not been kept in the loop, joining in only “because they feared that if the army crushed Untung it would crush them as well”.25 The Australian Joint Intelligence Committee noted that while individual communist groups clearly participated in the mutiny, “evidence of actual PKI involvement – that is, of prior planning by the Central Committee – is largely circumstantial”.26

The US appears to have been caught by surprise.27 One of its diplomats saw roadblocks and unusual military activity as he went to work on the morning of October 1, 1965. At first he assumed that Sukarno had died or become incapacitated. So did other US diplomats, who did not know much about Major-General Suharto. There was more than one Suharto in the senior ranks of the army, and at first they misidentified him. Similarly, the CIA’s research bureau knew little of Suharto or his politics; all it could say of him in the initial period was that he was “considered to be an anti-Communist”28 – not very illuminating, considering his profession and rank. US analysts later realised that five of the six generals killed had been trained in the US. Suharto himself had not trained in the US but thirteen of his top aides had.29 The crackdown

The Indonesian military moved swiftly and decisively. It arrested PKI members and took control of the media, using Radio Indonesia and the Antara news agency to encourage anti-PKI action. A major theme in its propaganda campaign was the murder of the six Indonesian generals. The military claimed that the generals were tortured and their genitals cut off by members of the PKI-affiliated women’s organisation Gerwani. Major-General Suharto said that “it was obvious for those of us who saw [the bodies] with our own eyes what savage tortures had been inflicted by the barbarous adventurers calling themselves ‘The September 30th Movement'”.30 Autopsies – ordered personally by Major-General Suharto – revealed that these stories were false, but the propaganda continued. (According to the autopsies, none of the victims’ eyes had been gouged out, and all their penises were intact.31) Sukarno and his foreign minister Subandrio tried to inform the public that the post mortem certificates had not mentioned any abnormalities, but the army was firmly in command of the media and these messages did not get through32.

Through the Antara news agency, the Indonesian military claimed that the PKI had drawn up lists of hundreds of government officials marked for execution if the mutineers had succeeded.33 Other stories claimed that members of PKI youth organisation Pemuda Rakyat had kidnapped two youths in Sumatra and tortured them for five days, removing eyes and cutting off hands and testicles, before killing them. It was also claimed that other Pemuda Rakyat members had tortured and murdered Muslims praying on the bank of a river.34 Other, extremely successful, propaganda stories alleged that PKI leader Aidit had encouraged Gerwani and Pemuda Rakyat members to take part in “delirious sexual orgies” for six months before the mutiny.35

Full-scale massacres of PKI members across the Indonesian archipelago occurred when special forces or parachute troops went into the regions. These soldiers participated in the killings, but more frequently used local militias to liquidate suspected PKI sympathisers. Local military units made it clear that they wanted to annihilate the PKI. They provided weapons, equipment, training and encouragement to youth organisations, eg the Muslim Ansor in Central and East Java. These groups usually went from village to village, grabbing PKI members and taking them away to be murdered. In some cases, entire villages were obliterated, but more typically the killers used hit lists and local informants to identify their victims. Particular attention was given to teachers and other village intellectuals. According to declassified British reports, many of the victims were the “merest rank and file” of the PKI, who were “often no more than bewildered peasants who give the wrong answer on a dark night to bloodthirsty hooligans bent on violence”.36 According to British historian Mark Curtis, an Australian diplomat learnt that: “Torture was the customary prelude to death and was in fact carried out in the army establishment next door to his own home. The nightly executions, carried out just outside Kupang, were open to the public provided those who attended took part in the executions. The Army was in complete control of these operations.”37

Robert Cribb, a leading scholar on these events, writes that the killings were “largely done with knives or swords, but some victims were beaten to death and some were shot. In some cases the victims were forced to dig their own shallow, mass graves in secluded places, or the bodies were dumped in rivers, or concealed in caves . The regions most seriously affected were Central and East Java, Bali and North Sumatra, where the [PKI] had been most active, but there were massacres in every part of the archipelago where communists could be found. A scholarly consensus has settled on a figure of 400,000-500,000 deaths.”38 Western support

Western policymakers and diplomats were keen to support the army, but there was a problem: Sukarno’s previous anti-imperialist rhetoric had resonated strongly with the Indonesian public. Any overt support would therefore serve only to expose the army as a tool of the West. Sukarno’s towering reputation presented a significant obstacle. A deft touch was required.

US ambassador Marshall Green understood that economic aid should not be offered because economic difficulties hurt the reputation of the civilian administration, not the army. His military contacts told him that there was an urgent need for food and clothing in Indonesia but it was more important to let Sukarno and Subandrio “stew in their own juice”.39

The information campaign in support of the killings was informed by similar principles. The Indonesian army secretly urged that foreign broadcasts not give the army “too much credit” or criticise Sukarno; rather, they should emphasise PKI atrocities and the party’s role in the mutiny.40 While Sukarno could not be directly attacked, an Indonesian general offered to send background information on foreign minister Subandrio, who was regarded as more vulnerable. Australian ambassador Keith Shann was told that Radio Australia should never suggest that the army was pro-Western or right-wing. Instead, credit should be given to other organisations, such as Muslim and youth groups.41

Radio Australia had an important role to play because of its overwhelming popularity with Indonesian listeners. It was said to be more popular than Radio Indonesia because its listeners included both the elite and students, who liked it because it played rock music, which had been officially banned.42 Australia’s Department of External Affairs (as it was then known) was aware that its high signal strength and massive listening audience meant that its Indonesian broadcasts were “a particularly important instrumentality in the present situation”. It was therefore told to “be on guard against giving information to the Indonesian people that would be withheld by the Army-controlled internal media”. The Australian ambassador worked to ensure that it gave “prominent coverage” to “reports of PKI involvement and Communist Chinese complicity” while playing down or not broadcasting “reports of divisions within the army specifically and armed services more generally”. Another senior official recommended that Radio Australia “not do anything which would be helpful to the PKI”; rather it “should highlight reports tending to discredit the PKI and show its involvement in the losing cause”.43

The US, Britain and Australia co-operated closely in the propaganda effort. Marshall Green urged Washington to “Spread the story of PKI’s guilt, treachery and brutality”, adding that this was “perhaps the most needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find [a] way to do it without identifying it as [a] sole or largely US effort”.44 The British Foreign Office hoped to “encourage anti-Communist Indonesians to more vigorous action in the hope of crushing Communism in Indonesia altogether”. Britain would emphasise “PKI brutality in murdering Generals and families, Chinese interference, particularly arms shipments, PKI subverting Indonesia as the agents of foreign Communists”.45 British ambassador Sir Andrew Gilchrist wrote: “I have never concealed . my belief that a little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change.”46 Throughout this period, Western radio stations continued to recycle stories from Radio Jakarta or the army newspapers and broadcast them back to Indonesia. US Embassy officials established a back-channel link through the US army attache in Jakarta, who regularly met with an aide to General Nasution.

The US Embassy also compiled lists of PKI leaders and thousands of senior members and handed them over to the Indonesian military.47 While these kinds of lists were based entirely on previous reporting by the communist press, they proved invaluable to the military which seemed “to lack even the simplest overt information on PKI leadership at the time”.48 General Sukendro secretly approached the US Embassy, asking for assistance in the army’s operations against the PKI. Marshall Green advised the State Department that “we should do what we can as soon as we can, to meet request for medical supplies. Cost is not prohibitive and quantity is such that both finance and shipping could probably be handled covertly.”49 As for the army’s requests for small arms, Green said that he “would be leery about telling army we are in position to provide same, although we should act, not close our minds to this possibility. There is a chance that situation in central Java might take such a turn for the worse that we would wish to move quickly with packages of certain types of arms. Meanwhile, we could explore availability of small arms stocks, preferable of non-US origin, which could, if necessary, provide covert assistance to army for purchase of weapons.”50 Green also authorised the provision of 50 million rupiahs to the Kap-Gestapu movement, which was leading the crackdown. He advised the State Department that there was “no doubt whatsoever that Kap-Gestapu’s activity is fully consonant with and co-ordinated by the army. We have had substantial intelligence reporting to support this.”51 Overall, the US provided the Indonesian army with money, medicines, communications equipment, weapons and intelligence. It was satisfied with the return it received on this investment. As Marshall Green put it, the Embassy and the US government are “generally sympathetic with and admiring of what army [is] doing”.52 It would be necessary “to lay [the] foundation of understanding between us” in order to “make it easier for us to act effectively if at some future date army should want help from US”. There were potential problems that needed sorting out. “One such problem was [the] position [of] American oil companies.”53

On February 21, 1966, Sukarno tried to reshuffle his cabinet and sack General Nasution as Defence Minister. But with the public cowed in fear of the killings, his attempt to assert his authority failed. There were large demonstrations backed by the army, and on March 11, 1966, armed troops mounted a show of force outside the presidential palace. Sukarno capitulated and signed a letter of authority handing over executive power to General Suharto. The aftermath

In the wake of the massacres, Indonesia’s pre-eminent cultural and intellectual organisations – the Peoples’ Cultural Institute, the National Cultural Institute, and the Indonesian Scholars’ Association – were shut down, and many of their members were arrested or imprisoned. More than one and a half million Indonesians passed through a system of prisons and prison camps. The PKI was physically annihilated, and popular organisations associated with it were suppressed. The whole of Indonesian society was forcibly depoliticised. In village after village, local bureaucrats backed by the army imposed a control matrix of permits, rules and regulations. Citizens were required to obtain a “letter of clean circumstances” certifying that they and their extended families had not been associated with the left before 1965. Indonesian society became devoted to the prevention of any challenge to elite interests.

Control of the universities, newspapers, and cultural institutions was handed to conservative writers and intellectuals, who collaborated with the New Order’s program and did not oppose the jailing of their left-wing cultural rivals. Along with the violence, certain cultural values were strongly promoted – discussion of personal, religious and consumerist issues was encouraged, while discussion of politics was considered to be in bad taste. The conservative establishment also monopolised Indonesia’s external cultural relations.

Suharto would rule for more than 30 years until a popular uprising and a crisis-ridden economy forced his resignation on May 21, 1998.

Dr Clinton Fernandes is a historian and author of Reluctant Saviour: Australia, Indonesia and the independence of East Timor (Scribe, 2004). He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University. These are his views.



2 JULY 96

No Foreign Dissem

Perspective on Indonesia
Richard Cabot Howland

“Indonesia stands today with one foot in the national-democratic stage and one foot in the socialist. stage . . .
in order to consummate the revolution, there is only one road for the working class-rebuikan kekuasaan polilik!
Seize political power!”

Bung Karno,
May 1, 1965

He is dead now, but his mad rhetoric still echoes in the mind for those who were there. Speech after speech, Sukarno’s cadence set the rhythm for our work and our lives in that long summer of 1965. We battened down the Embassy hatches and waited, straining to fathom his purpose and predict his next move. One after another, faster and faster, the PKI’s enemies were over-run; the domino theory was being tested before our eyes. “All of history,” Emerson once wrote, “stands in the long shadow of one man.” So too did Indonesia by September 30 of that year . . . until the last domino refused to fall.

In retrospect, it is easy now to say that our initial interpretation of the “September 30 Movement”-the so-called PKI coup attempt of October 1, 1965–was correct. We knew from the start that it was not a coup in the classic sense. Our first reaction was that Sukarno was behind it all. We knew that he believed he stood on the stage of history, that he wanted his Indonesian revolution to become “the greatest of all revolutions, even a summing-up of all revolutions,” as he put it. For months he had tried to raise the curtain on the next act of his scenario for this “greatest of all revolutions,” an act which he called “entry into the Socialist stage”–the juncture at which collaboration with the bourgeois nationalists is abruptly terminated, the latter are removed from the stage in disgrace, and the drama moves inexorably toward its finale: the full-fledged Communist state.

Yet, when it happened, it came as a surprise. We expected something to break; Djakarta was unbearably tense, poised on the edge of crisis; but no one knew what form the next crisis would take. No one thought that Sukarno would go for the jugular-the Army-quite so soon. There was still plenty of time, plenty of other targets. Civilian anti- Communist elements had been isolated but not liquidated. We suspected that Sukarno and the PKI would link “entry into the socialist stage” with announcement of a Communist-dominated “Nasakom Cabinet” and the removal of civilian bourgeois nationalists- -the once-powerful Third Deputy Premier Chairul Saleh, the political gadfly Adam Malik, the leaders of the banned right-wing of the Nationalist Party, perhaps the fanatical Moslem students from the former Masjumi affiliate, the HMI. All had been under severe propaganda attack for some time and were rumored for imminent arrest. They were logically the next dominoes in the line.

Nobody hurries in Djakarta, especially to a showdown, but Sukarno chose this moment to break the rules of the game. Impelled by his ideological timetable, he must have believed that conditions were right for a dramatic move of historical consequence: a violent purge of the Army General Staff in preparation for establishment of a “People’s Army” based on an armed worker/peasant militia and controlled by a political commissar system under the PKI. He had pressed for both throughout the year, but the Army had objected, and on September 1 he warned Army Commander Yani publicly that “the revolution was about to leave him behind.” Had the move succeeded, a “Nasakom Cabinet” would have followed, then the arrest of other “counterrevolutionaries,” eventually the seizure of land and capital by the state and the collectivization of agriculture, all hallmarks of the “socialist stage” in Communist revolutionary theory.

Instead, insha’allah, everything went awry, as is often the case on Java, and the Movement failed. Sukarno and the PKI, not the bourgeois nationalists, left the stage in disgrace and the latter in control. From the confusion of those exciting days have emerged many myths, in particular a set of generalizations about the origins and outcome of the event, which gained credence within some U.S. Government circles and especially “outside the wall” of classification. Simply stated, these generalizations were that (1) Communist China instigated the “PKI coup attempt” in an effort to “make an end-run” around the U.S. “forward-line” in South Vietnam, but (2) our decision to commit American troops in that country, signifying our readiness to block the southward extension of Chinese Communist power, stiffened the backbones of the Indonesian officer corps, and (3) bought sufficient time for them to crush their own Communist threat in a “massacre” which took the lives of some 350,000 or more party members at no cost to the United States.

These generalizations were based on inadequate data-all data was inadequate in the early days of the affair. They make Asian politics sound like American football, and are suspect on that account alone. Yet they seemed logical in geo-political terms, especially at a time when Washington sought justification for the American stance in South Vietnam, and the Indonesians sought propaganda ammunition against Peking and the PKI. In Djakarta, however, we were particularly struck by the uniquely indigenous character of the events which led to the purge attempt and by the minimal influence on its outcome that could be ascribed to non-Indonesian factors. The geo-political generalizations about the incident, which I summarized above, clashed in our minds with a point that we felt was its strongest feature-that it was, from start to finish, a peculiarly and exclusively Indonesian phenomenon.

Half a decade has passed since the September 30 Movement collapsed, bringing down with it Sukarno’s bloated edifice of words. Personal and institutional memories are growing dimmer. The time may thus be appropriate for a new, “inside the wall” look at the three generalizations produced in the public mind by its dramatic and arcane circumstances, in
order to raise serious doubts about their validity before they come to conceal the real value of the Indonesian experience-the lessons of the September 30 affair.

Communist China
. . damned clever, these Chinese.” – – Unknown

In her study The Coup that Backfired, Mrs. Helen Hunter went a long way toward dispelling the myth of Chinese Communist involvement in the purge attempt. She concluded that while Peking had probably learned of the Sukarno/PKI plan, as indeed it must have through agent penetration of the Palace and the PKI, the Chinese did not instigate the plot
or participate in carrying it out. The same conclusion is implicit in an earlier article in Studies in Intelligence on the September 30 Movement by John T. Pizzicaro.

Like us, the Chinese knew something important was imminent. But I doubt whether they could truly have comprehended the nature of the plot and its implications. By mid-September, too many actors had become involved in the drama, each interpreting the script in light of his own self-interest. I doubt whether Sukarno, let alone the Chinese, knew the Generals were to be liquidated, or the Revolutionary Council named as the “source of all state power.” Even Sudisman, fifth-ranking leader of the PKI, subsequently stated under interrogation that the latter statement “was not part of the plan.” Sukarno was unaware of the involvement of Colonel Untung from his own Palace Guards’

Regiment, because he had dealt only with PKI Chairman Aidit, Air Force Commander Omar Dhani, and Army General Supardjo who was in charge of tactical operations for the Movement. The PKI’s “Special Bureau” chief Sjam Kamaruzaman, who planned the details, was actually proceeding under the incredible assumption that “if necessary, the President would be set aside.”

Thus the participants did not have a unified concept of the affair, and the lines of authority among them were blurred from the outset. It is no wonder that General Supardjo told Army interrogators afterwards that when he returned to Djakarta from his post in West Borneo on September 28, everything was in chaos and “there was no clear chain of command.” Whatever Sukarno’s original instructions–probably couched in typical Javanese ambiguity–the thing had gotten badly out of hand, and had assumed an internal dynamic which no single participant, let alone a foreign observer, could understand or control.

A more fundamental brand of skepticism on the myth of Chinese involvement would arise if relations between the Chinese leaders, Sukarno, and the PKI were examined. The Chinese had little real leverage over Sukarno, or Aidit and the party. The two leaders were not the obscure protagonists of a minority faction in some little-known, unimportant country. Both were prominent figures on the international scene, aware of their power. They were vain, hyper-sensitive, paranoid chauvinists to whom foreign leaders had long catered, not dictated. The PKI in turn was the largest Communist party outside the Communist World. A good measure of Indonesian hyper-nationalism and mistrust of foreign powers laced all its activities and plans.

Sukarno was no “dupe of the Communists,” Chinese or any other. He had towered over Indonesian political life for more than a generation, and claimed his own niche in the Marxist pantheon. In his speeches, he listed himself after Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin-but not Mao, who was still alive-as a prophet and “great leader of the revolution.” He asserted that with his formulation of “Marhaenism” in 1926, he had discovered the theorem that revolution in a colonial country had to base itself on a broad national front including the peasantry, not on the industrial proletariat alone. Sukarno claimed to have made this discovery before Mao had reached the same conclusion. Both Sukarno and Aidit believed they were still breaking new ideological ground in “adapting Marxism to Indonesian conditions,” and the party formally stated that “the teachings of Bung Karno are identical with the program of the PKI.”

Their approach must have seemed to be paying off from Peking’s point of view, and there was no reason for the Chinese to exert pressure on them for greater speed. The Indonesian revolutionary situation and Indonesian foreign policy were moving in a direction and at a pace which coincided with Chinese desires. At two junctures, Aidit even warned his colleagues that things were going too fast—a warning that later returned to haunt him when he failed to heed it himself.

In Indonesia, the “party of the Chinese” was Partindo, not the PKI. A tiny clot of left-wing extremists, the Partindo leaders drew their influence from their rapport with Sukarno and their interrelationship with the leaders of a powerful association of Indonesian citizens of Chinese descent called “Baperki.” Both organizations followed the PKI line- Partindo in fact was often out in front-and had friendly relations with the Chinese Communist Embassy. The latter also influenced a number of alien ethnic Chinese businessmen’s associations, which parroted the Sukarno/PKI slogans. Yet among all the participants in the September 30 affair no ethnic Chinese name appears, and the leaders of Partindo and Baperki were as confused as we were on the morning of October l, 1965.

The PKI in contrast had virtually no ethnic Chinese on its personnel roster. Not more than a dozen Chinese names could be found among some 2,000 PKI biographic information cards at the American Embassy. The average PKI member often shared the same ingrained suspicion and animosity toward the Chinese as his non-Communist countrymen. The fundamental theme of Aidit’s policy, and the main tool with which he had succeeded in rebuilding the party after the disastrous Moscow-induced Madiun revolt of 1948, was his effort to ensure that the PKI operated as a purely indigenous Indonesian institution. Recruiting efforts focused on ethnic Indonesians. Aidit and Sukarno were only too aware of the potential propaganda backlash that awaited any clearcut identification of the party with the Chinese, either domestically or abroad, in the Indonesian public mind. Aidit could scarcely have favored growing Chinese influence within his party, which might have aggravated factionalism and weakened the PKI before its adversaries. It might even have endangered his own position, since by “taking the parliamentary road” for thirteen years, Aidit had clearly been “following the Moscow line” in terms of the Sino-Soviet split.

For all these reasons, while the PKI made the fraternal and adulatory noises toward Peking and the Chinese revolution that one would expect from an Asian party, its leaders scarcely missed a suitable opportunity to express their independence of any Chinese influence.

It is out of the question for Sukarno or Aidit to have offered any outside power “a piece of the action” or requested help in the September 30 affair.

“Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” –John F. Kennedy

The tendency to blame everything bad that happens in the world on Peking or Moscow is matched by the tendency to credit ourselves for all the good things. Both tendencies have clearly been at work in some interpretations of the September 30 affair and its outcome. Some people believe that the Indonesian Army would have been inclined to compromise with Sukarno and the PKI if its leaders were not aware that US forces had tied down the Chinese in South Vietnam by bombing the north and sending in the Marines. In fact, the Army did compromise with Sukarno for almost two years, though not with the PKI.

What options would have been available to the Chinese if the US presence was absent from South Vietnam? They could not have launched an invasion of Java since they lacked transportation and logistical support. They could have mounted an air strike on Djakarta, refueling at Hanoi, but the outcome would have been disastrous. The main victims would have been the predominantly urban ethnic Chinese in Indonesia. As it was, Peking’s constant vituperation of the “rightwing forces,” and its incitement of the Indonesian Chinese to rebel against them only aggravated the latter’s troubles and reinforced Army propaganda that the PKI had been a Chinese tool. Whether the US stood firm in Vietnam or not, there was nothing that Peking could do-except take it on the chin in Indonesia as we had during the Sukarno years.

It has. been argued, however, that while in objective terms the Chinese were clearly powerless to affect the situation by physical means, in psychological terms China was viewed as a potential threat after the purge attempt because of its great size and historical meddling in the area. Thus, the US barrier in Vietnam was said to be a meaningful integer in Indonesian calculations.

I would question whether many Indonesians were troubled by China’s size. They believe Indonesia is the most important country in the world, and boast that the last time China invaded Java-in the thirteenth century-it was repulsed. In addition, I suspect that the whole effort to impute to Indonesian decision-makers any profound or strategic thoughts during those days of crisis is a great mistake.

Perhaps it would be useful in this connection to discuss in detail the turning-point in the events of October 1 itself-the juncture at which the keynote was sounded for the campaign against Sukarno and the eradication of the PK I- to determine whether thoughts of Vietnam or China were on anybody’s mind.

The moment of decision came shortly after noon at Kostrad Headquarters on Djakarta’s main square, where Suharto had assumed temporary command of the Army under standing contingency procedures. The two airborne “Raider” battalions that had deployed on the square earlier in the day in support of the purge attempt still surrounded Suharto and controlled key installations. Suharto was negotiating with their executive officers to get them to withdraw, and at the same time trying to size up the situation and find some reliable troops for himself. So far he had collected two platoons, plus ambiguous expressions of support from duty officers in the Navy and the national police.

Suharto was hurt and enraged at the clear probability that his close friend and patron, Army Commander Yani, had been murdered. N asution, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff and its leading “strategic thinker,” was in a nearby room. Best described later by a western diplomat as “a simple, ambitious coward,” Nasution was paralyzed with shock and grief from the attack on his home. Far from being an asset, to Suharto, Nasution had retreated at the crucial moment, as he had so many times before in crises when Sukarno was involved.

At this point, an emissary from Sukarno arrived. It was one of his adjutants, Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Bambang Widjanarko, who accompanied Sukarno when he drove out to join the anti-Army forces at Halim Air Force Base that morning. Widjanarko announced that he brought an order from the “great leader of the revolution” and was taken to Suharto. He told the Kostrad commander that Sukarno ordered him to turn over temporary command of the Army to MajorGeneral Pranoto Reksosamudra. Pranoto was believed to be a PKI sympathizer, and Suharto knew him well. He had replaced Suharto in 1959 as Central Java Army Commander after an incident involving Suharto’s family which had tarnished the latter’s reputation.

Sukarno’s choice of Pranoto to replace Suharto was a clear mistake. His use of a junior officer from an anti-Army service to carry the word made it, a major blunder. The final touch came when Widjanarko belligerently demanded, according to those present, that Suharto “release” several key Generals and allow them to proceed to Halim for consulation with Sukarno. Suharto was already aware that several top Generals had been killed and others were missing. He went into a rage.

Speaking Javanese, he ordered Widjanarko to inform Sukarno that he was retaining temporary command of the Army until Yani’s fate was known, that “no more Generals would go to Halim,” and that Sukarno himself should leave the Air Base as soon as possible because he was preparing to attack it.

The impact and implications of that final clause may be difficult to sense for those who did not endure the long years of deference and propaganda adulation paid to Sukarno by all sectors of the population, including the Army. In effect, Suharto had challenged the power of a latter-day Javanese god-king. But the impact was not lost on Sukarno, who complied, probably unnerved by this singular act of defiance from a hitherto complacent, apolitical, obedient soldier. A test of wills had occurred, and Suharto had won. The news spread rapidly among the political and military elite, and Suharto was able to establish himself as the leader of the anti-PKI forces while the leftists remained in disarray “with no clear chain of command,” as Supardjo subsequently noted. The Rubicon in contemporary Indonesian history had been crossed, and thereafter the tide of events moved irrevocably against Sukarno and the PKI.

What had provoked Suharto to throw down the gauntlet’? lie acted in rage, fear, and desperation. He felt keenly humiliated that Sukarno had sent a junior officer to order him about like a servant. He was incensed at the thought of surrendering his command for a second time to a hated subordinate, and feared that Pranoto’s appointment meant his own name was on the PKI’s liquidation list. He acted in the belief that he was serving the best interests of the Army, of his military comrades, and of Indonesia itself in standing up to Sukarno whatever the latter’s power. All these motivations are reasonable to impute to a tense, puzzled, parochial but able field officer who felt that he alone had to hold the situation together in a crisis endangering the foundations of the state and his own future.

But he certainly did not act from a strategic or geo-political vision of the implications of the U.S. presence in South Vietnam in terms of the Chinese colossus to the north. It was a tactical situation; Yani was dead, Nasution had copped out, Suharto was senior officer present and commanding, and only he could take charge. That he did so without thought of the consequences explains much about him and his later success. Suharto merits our gratitude, not claims of a share in his victory because of our stance in Vietnam, for that moment alone.

The Massacre of the PKI
“We feared the great Communist chiefs: they had magic powers which prevented them from dying. No matter how much we beat them they did not die. We had to inscribe the letters ‘PKI’ on their skulls to prevent their hair from growing out again after we had scalped them. Some would not die even when we forced bamboo sticks into their eyes and mouths, or after we put out their eyes. Especially in the case of the great chiefs, we would put a live cat into their bellies; only then would they suffocate. ‘rhe cat, symbol of the tiger, caused them to lose their magic powers, and they died.”

-quoted by Philippe Gavi, in an article entitled “Indonesia Days of Slaughter,” in the Italian-language weekly theoretical organ of the Italian Communist Party, Rinascita (Rebirth), No. i, Rome, February 16, 1968, pp. 15 18.

Foreign estimates of the number of PKI members and sympathizers killed as a direct result of the reaction to the purge attempt have ranged from 350,000 at the low end to 1.5 million at the high. The Indonesian Government has never issued an official announcement on the subject. In a recent article in the British publication Government and Opposition entitled “Indonesia’s Search for a Political Format,” Donald Ilindley quotes the low-end figure in his text but adds the latter in a footnote. Ilindley is guessing, for no one really knows. IIis citation of both figures, an ostensible effort to attain scholarly balance, actually begs the question whether very many were killed at all. Like the “Cornell group” dissected by John T. Pizzicaro in his recent Studies in Intelligence article, Hindley is forced by the ideological compulsions of the academic “new left” to maintain the polemical attack on the New Order regime, although he personally considers it, as he once told me, “the best government Indonesia has had.”

Hindley’s upper-range figure of 1.5 million was probably acquired from Miss Ruth McVey, the “PEI’s biographer.” Ruth was not in Indonesia at the time of the purge attempt, and had access only to journalistic sources in the months that followed. Yet by the spring of 1966, she had surfaced the figure of 1.5 million Communist dead at a New York meeting of the “Youth against War and Fascism” organization. This astonishing performance by an otherwise able and objective scholar clearly demonstrates how emotions have fogged the whole issue. How could the characteristically disorganized Indonesians possibly construct an efficient murder apparatus on this vast scale in a few months, and systematically exterminate almost one-third the number of people that the Nazi regime killed in ten years?

Following the purge attempt, Djakarta seethed with rumors and stories of bloodshed and terror. The Embassy was aware that this issue would loom large for some time and from the beginning we attempted to develop hard intelligence to put the subject in perspective. A preliminary look at, the data showed, however, that even after the palpable boasts had been detected and discarded, what, remained was spotty and inconsistent. No firm information on alleged killing; of
Communists ever emerged from almost two-thirds of Indonesia’s provinces. In addition, areas where one might have expected massacres of epic proportions-diehard anti-Communist West Java, for instance-.were remarkably unstained with Communist blood. Yet in areas where the PKI had never won more than a modicum of popular support: in Atjeh, or the Madurese regions of East Java, the death tolls boggled the mind. One heard interminable lurid reports of mass killings in Bali, some 50,000 deaths or more, where the PKI had never succeeded in cracking the tightly-knit Balinese social structure or challenging the political domination of the Nationalist Party. Yet in the traditional PKI stronghold of Madiun, the seat of the 1948 rebellion which should have been the first target for liquidation teams, and where there were plenty of Moslems to do the job . . . all was calm. Not one PKI death was ever reported from Madiun to my knowledge. A curious pattern, and one that did not readily hang together.

It was thus not an easy task to determine an overall death-tollPart of the problem derived from the local cultural imperative which we called “deliberate misleading of the outsider,” but the Javanese call “etok-etok.” To a Westerner, a thing is either true or false, an event either happened or it did not. This emphasis on objective reality seems dogmatic to a Javanese, who is more sensitive to the demands made on truth by the social context and his own socio-political status. Javanese seek to avoid potential conflict and embarrassment, and govern their behavior and remarks accordingly. The result is that they believe it is better to tell an outsider what they think he wishes to hear rather than risk the unpredictable consequences of telling the truth. This generalization does not pertain to all social situations, but is the cultural model for what Javanese believe social intercourse should be.

In reviewing the documentary evidence of the so-called massacre, I felt it was obvious that considerable etok-etok was involved. The same was true as I inquired among my contacts in the military and elsewhere, seeking a viable nation-wide estimate of Communist deaths to report to the Department. I found an abundance of exciting, selfserving tales, told with averted eyes, as though the ghost of I). N. Aidit were lurking in the background. Rather than acting like members of a “conspiracy of silence,” most people were “protesting too much” of their ruthless anti-Communist zeal. But they could not produce hard data, lists, names and places, photographs, or any indication that some Indonesian government bureau had been tasked with tracking down and collating the stories in a systematic and objective manner. It was true that Sukarno had directed several of his Ministerial flunkies to survey Java in November, 1965 to obtain information for use in
Communists ever emerged from almost two-thirds of Indonesia’s provinces. In addition, areas where one might have expected massacres of epic proportions-diehard anti-Communist West Java, for instance-.were remarkably unstained with Communist blood. Yet in areas where the PKI had never won more than a modicum of popular support: in Atjeh, or the Madurese regions of East Java, the death tolls boggled the mind. One heard interminable lurid reports of mass killings in Bali, some 50,000 deaths or more, where the PKI had never succeeded in cracking the tightly-knit Balinese social structure or challenging the political domination of the Nationalist Party. Yet in the traditional PKI stronghold of Madiun, the seat of the 1948 rebellion which should have been the first target for liquidation teams, and where there were plenty of Moslems to do the job . . . all was calm. Not one PKI death was ever reported from Madiun to my knowledge. A curious pattern, and one that did not readily hang together.

It was thus not an easy task to determine an overall death-tollPart of the problem derived from the local cultural imperative which we called “deliberate misleading of the outsider,” but the Javanese call “etok-etok.” To a Westerner, a thing is either true or false, an event either happened or it did not. This emphasis on objective reality seems dogmatic to a Javanese, who is more sensitive to the demands made on truth by the social context and his own socio-political status. Javanese seek to avoid potential conflict and embarrassment, and govern their behavior and remarks accordingly. The result is that they believe it is better to tell an outsider what they think he wishes to hear rather than risk the unpredictable consequences of telling the truth. This generalization does not pertain to all social situations, but is the cultural model for what Javanese believe social intercourse should be.

In reviewing the documentary evidence of the so-called massacre, I felt it was obvious that considerable etok-etok was involved. The same was true as I inquired among my contacts in the military and elsewhere, seeking a viable nation-wide estimate of Communist deaths to report to the Department. I found an abundance of exciting, selfserving tales, told with averted eyes, as though the ghost of I). N. Aidit were lurking in the background. Rather than acting like members of a “conspiracy of silence,” most people were “protesting too much” of their ruthless anti-Communist zeal. But they could not produce hard data, lists, names and places, photographs, or any indication that some Indonesian government bureau had been tasked with tracking down and collating the stories in a systematic and objective manner. It was true that Sukarno had directed several of his Ministerial flunkies to survey Java in November, 1965 to obtain information for use in his effort to stymie the anti-Communist bandwagon. But their estimate of 87,000 stemmed directly from political considerations, and had to be rejected on those grounds.

Finally, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army’s Supreme Operations Command’s “Social-Political Affairs Section” passed me some figures which he swore were accurate compilations from field reporting. The totals were 50,000 dead on Java; 6,000 dead on Bali; 3,000 in North Sumatra. I was skeptical of his methods but accepted his estimates, faute de mieux, and combining them with my own data produced a nation-wide total of 105,000 Communist dead. Admittedly a large figure, it was still a far cry from the claims of 350,000 to 1.5 million victims being bandied about, and at least had partially resulted from a systematic effort.

While the death toll appeared lower than generally believed, the net impact on PKI cohesion and capabilities remained the same. The climate of fear and suspicion that arose in the villages as a result of the widespread rumors of mass killing effectively impaired PKI courier communications, obstructed party meetings, and thus paralyzed lateral coordination and control. Concurrently, the Army seized the central PKI publications apparatus and captured a majority of the Central Committee membership within a few months, thus blocking dissemination of instructions from the top. The PKI’s two strongest features apart from identification with Sukarno, its organization and communications, were thus nullified, and its destruction as a cohesive political force was assured.

By April of 1966, conditions were settling down and the Army relaxed its restrictions on travel. At the first opportunity, another Embassy officer and I left on a trip through Java seeking first-hand intelligence information on a variety of subjects. Among other things, because of my conclusions mentioned above, I hoped to learn something about the alleged severe killing in East Java which had been described in news items filed by Mr. Stanley Karnow of the St. Louis Post-Despatch.

Karnow was an unusual correspondent among the many who came to Indonesia at that time. He actually visited the areas about which he wrote. He interviewed at length the Army Commander of the Kediri district of East Java, Colonel Willy Sudjono. The Colonel had filled his ears with gory details and astonishing death-tolls, including a remark that the Brantas River-which flows past Kediri town-had been “choked with 30,000 Communist bodies.” From a previous trip to Kediri, I remembered the Brantas as a broad, placid stream, its bed raised above the level of the surrounding countryside by years of diking and overflow, somewhat in the manner of the Ilwang Ilo of China. It occurred to me that 30,000 bodies floating down the Brantas would have jammed the gates of the numerous irrigation dams that span the river, causing a severe flood in Kediri town.

In any event, I was anxious to learn just what had happened in Kediri, a fascinating area of marked importance in Javanese history and politics for centuries. It was the seat of an early Hindu-Buddhist kingdom whose legendary ruler produced a set of prophecies which became a. central feature of the Javanese political mystique. Javanese believe that Kediri stands at the center of a peculiarly potent combination of necromantic and mystical geo-magnetic forces. The area in consequence has generated peasant-based millenarian movements for hundreds of years. Prince Diponegoro of Jogjakarta went to Kediri to meditate in a cave before he fomented a messianic revolt, against the Dutch in 182.1. Sukarno always played up his early boyhood in Blitar, near Kediri, and had requested to be interred there. Before the 1965 purge attempt, Kediri was a Sukarnoist/PKI stronghold, as one might expect where severe ethnic (Javanese vs. Madurese) and religious (reformist Moslem vs. animist) antagonisms intersected in a setting that contrasted large land-holdings with abysmal poverty. Here were all the contradictions which provided, for Sukarno and the PKI, the exploitable corridors of power.

In April, 1966, another Embassy officer and myself spent several days at the home of an American Baptist missionary docter and his wife in Kediri. The Baptist mission and hospital were established in Kediri just after the war. They were readily accepted by the nominal Moslem Javanese of the area, who probably saw the Baptists as just another mystical sect drawn to Kediri by its potent ethereal forces. There were eight American families, and many “national preachers”local converts who helped spread the gospel–at the Baptist establishment. They enjoyed excellent relations with local officials and had made many friends in the villages of the area. Every morning, Javanese from all social classes lined up in front of the hospital for medical treatment. Obviously the Baptists were well-attuned to the local environment.

From several days’ talks with the Baptist group and other local informants, an interesting picture of Colonel Willy Sudjono emerged. Ile had lost several relatives fighting on the Communist side at Madiun in 1948. He was also known as a staunch Sukarnoist and devout follower of the pro-Communist. East Java mystical sect leader, mBah 5uro. Before the purge attempt, he had not obstructed the Comnunist advance. The missionaries remarked that during the August 17,
1965 National Day celebrations, PKI organizations marched down Kediri’s main street for hours, some of them armed, while Willy Sudjono watched and smiled. Yet the missionaries did not believe he was a Communist himself. They had requested troops to protect the hospital against threatened PKI attacks on several occasions, and he had always complied. Sudjono’s family came to the hospital for medical treatment and health exams, as did many of the local officials of the area. Obviously there was more to his story than Karnow had learned.

The missionaries and their local contacts had heard many stories of mass killing in the surrounding area, including the tale of “30,000 bodies choking the Brantas River.” One night, according to a missionary wife, they heard the gamelans (traditional musical instruments) “pounding from darkness till dawn.” They presumed that killing was underway, and that the music was intended to cover the sound of screams. They were surprised that fanatical Moslems would choose to kill by gamelan music, a non-Moslem, Hindu-Javanese cultural manifestation. But the next morning, everything was calm. As the Baptists went through nearby villages, there was no sign of slaughter. In fact, although they preached and dispensed health care in the area throughout the period of the purge attempt and its aftermath, none ever saw a Communist body, in the Brantas or elsewhere. Whenever they asked village contacts about, the subject, they were always told that “there were no PKI members in this village and no killing here, but many dead at the next village down the road.” But at the next village, the answer was the same: “no PKI, no killing here.”

A press correspondent who spent a month on Bali searching for evidence of the mass killing for a feature story told me that he had gotten the same answer in village after village there. Moreover, he pointed out, neither he nor his colleagues had ever managed to photograph a Communist body. ‘ro this day, 1 myself have never seen even one photograph of a PKI corpse.

The missionaries’ story was confirmed by other local informants, who believed that most of the Communist leaders had fled to Surabaja after the failure of the purge attempt, while the peasant masses who had supported the party because of its identification with Sukarno simply melted away. What killing had occurred, they said, had been on a minor, ceremonial scale.

Thus, there must have been considerable elok-etok in the story Willy Sudjono told Stan Karnow. He had done nothing to slow down the PKI in his jurisdiction before the purge attempt. As a known Sukarnophile and mBah Suro devotee, the onus was on him afterwards to demonstrate. his loyalty to the Army. Ile must have welcomed the
chance to proclaim to Djakarta through an American journalist that his severity toward the party after the event had known no bounds. How many other local military commanders and district officials had been under the same pressures after the purge attempt? Virtually all of them were imbued with Sukarno’s “Nasakom” sloganry, including the policy of collaborating with the PKI. What better way to display their newly-discovered anti-Communist colors, without committing themselves to Suharto or Sukarno while the Djakarta power struggle was unresolved, than by inflating the numbers of PKI killed in their jurisdictions? How many opportunistic politicians sought to erase years of riding the PKI’s coat-tails by proclaiming responsibility for a few unverifiable Communist deaths? The IP-KI Party leader Lucas Kustarjo, for instance, though a long-time Sukarnophile, boasted everywhere that he ha6 told Sukarno personally that he killed “300 PKI leaders with his own hands.”

Like the politicians and military leaders, the average village citizen had shrewd motivations for concocting massacre tales. If a villager told the authorities that his Communist neighbor had escaped, he risked guilt by association, or at least faced the prospect of a harangue on the importance of “heightening vigilance against the PKI.” But if he told the authorities that his Communist neighbor had been killed by the “spontaneity of the masses,” he would receive a pat on the back-perhaps even his neighbor’s house or land. Who could check the story’.? The Army has never been able to keep track of its own personnel, let alone the civilians on over-populated Java.

As the reports of massacres moved up along the chain of command, they could easily have been embellished and magnified as successive layers of officialdom sought to display their own anti-Communist zeal. The natural tendency was to accept them at face value, especially among the Western correspondents who flocked to Djakarta in search of sensational copy for lurid feature articles to cable to the outside world. The result was the myth of the massacre. A good part of it must have been etok-etok by everyone concerned.

The Future
“We are independent now. Independence was not granted as a gift from our former colonisers. but we have won it the hard way at a great loss of lives on the part of all the Indonesian people for more than hundreds of years. We have a state philosophy and a Constitution which are not of foreign make but the products of our own inquiry into our own identity and our own history, formulated by Indonesian leaders and Indonesian philosophers. Our Armed Forces are not an inheritance, but have emerged from the midst of a fighting nation . . . all these things are not just the legacy of the days prior to our independence. We have done them ourselves.”

-President Suharto, on the eve of the 25th anniversary of Indonesian independence, on August 16, 1970.

No one will ever know the truth about the September 30 affair. By posing some questions about the myths that have evolved in the public mind in regard to the events that preceded and followed it, I hope at least to have signalled the danger of swallowing them whole. Whatever the popular misinterpretations of newsmen and scholars, “inside the wall”
we should not be misled by the need to practice our own form of etok-etok to justify the policies of the past.
Instead we should look to the real and valuable lessons which this watershed in contemporary Southeast Asian history has provided for the future.

To the strategic thinkers of the outside world, Southeast Asia, like the Balkans, has always looked like a power vacuum about to implode. Like the Javanese area of Kediri, one might almost say, Southeast Asia has loomed as a center of mystical forces, time and again attracting foreign powers to meddle in its murky affairs in the hope of gain-or occasionally in the hope of obtaining the gratitude of Southeast Asians themselves. But time and again the outsider has seen his efforts go unappreciated, his motives mistrusted, and his departure awaited with eager pride. Too often the reason has been the outsider’s inability to see things through Southeast Asian eyes.

Human and interstate relations in Southeast Asia do not occur under ideal laboratory conditions, and the course of events is seldom predictable at a distance by analysis of national interest and balance of power alone. The “strategic planners” who prefer to “focus on the big picture in Asia” to produce sweeping, unverifiable geo-political theories run the risk of overlooking some quirk of human behavior that can easily upset their most sophisticated calculations and ideas. In Indonesia in 1965, the last domino refused to fall, and the tenets of the domino theory proved irrelevant to a major historical change. The course of events turned instead on the personality of one man, as the massive door of a vault pivots on its tiny jewelled bearing. Without the example of Suharto’s courage in defying Sukarno, a thousand similar acts of decision would not have occurred elsewhere in the archipelago, and the whole “strategic situation” in Southeast Asia would not be the same. Suharto and his supporters were not concerned with the “big picture,” or with conditions in other countries of Asia. They had enough to do with their own “little picture,” and concentrated on the job to be done and the people involved. As a result, they won. The PKI was destroyed in the villages of Indonesia, Dot by the American “forward line” in Vietnam.

In Washington things tend to become unreal. Human beings are sometimes viewed as little more than names passing in the stream of paper. unrelated to their past and future. Far from the scene, we are often prone to see Asia impersonally as a cosmic chessboard, where the great powers can conduct their broader strategies without much regard for the pawns. But the pawns too are people, and the human factor is always the key, as it was on the morning of October 1, 196;5 in Indonesia. To be truly viable, all strategic theories based on sophisticated geo-political ideas must also take into account the prospect of those sudden, unexpected acts of human courage and decision which, precisely because they were not a part of preconceived plans, alter and illuminate political affairs.

The origins and outcome of the September 30 affair were the result of Indonesian actions alone. By the time the great powers realized what was underway, it was too late to help or hinder either side. Washington’ could only watch and wait, and hope that when the situation jelled, a new and more constructive relationship could be established with whatever regime survived. Then–but only then-could we offer to help, after the fever had broken and the patient was already on the road to recovery.

The Indonesians were acutely aware after the overthrow of Sukarno and the PKI that the road to recovery meant turning inward to repair the economic deterioration that had contributed significantly to Sukarno’s success in orchestrating the Communist march toward power. Indonesia rejected Sukarno’s mad schemes of leading the “third world” in a crusade of bluff and bluster against the “imperialist powers,” and focussed its attention on its own sad internal plight. Suharto blocked a reversion to unproductive political infighting, and placed the stress of government policy on combatting inflation and preparing the base for economic development. The first battle was won and the development effort shows great promise for the future, although severe challenges remain.

In the wake of the September 30 affair and its aftermath, the lesson of the Indonesian experience began to make itself felt. It was at the heart of the American “low profile” approach to Indonesian efforts to bring their runaway inflation under control. Although advice from the International Monetary Fund and assistance from foreign donors were important, the essential decisions were made by Indonesian economists and implemented because of Suharto’s resolve. American involvement was kept, to a miminum. The low-profile approach also led to our “handsoff” attitude when the Indonesians were attempting to round up expatriate Sarawak Chinese dissidents in West Borneo in 1967, and to
quell an embryonic PKI insurgency effort in East Java the following year. In the first case, Indonesians and Malaysians combined their efforts; in East Java, only a few weeks were needed for the Indonesians to handle the job themselves. In both cases, American involvement would have lent credence to Communist propaganda, and impaired indigenous resolve.

In the larger context, the Vietnamization idea and the “Guam Doctrine” can be seen as efforts to employ the lessons of the September 30 affair in structuring an appropriate American posture for the region as a whole.

Comparisons of what happened in South Vietnam and Indonesia after the critical year of 1965 make it clear that American power can only complement and augment indigenous resolve-the quality that the Indonesians call “national resiliency,” which can be generated through local leadership and enhanced through regional cooperation, but not created or replaced by vast infusions of men and money from abroad. The human factor is always the key.

Very few now believe that the “soft states” of Southeast Asia can manage to survive as independent national entities without massive American help in view of the geo-political menace of Communist China to the north. Yet who among us would have believed-on that hot morning of October 1, 1965, as we drove toward the Embassy between the endless red banners and lurid anti-Western posters along both sides of the main highway into Djakarta, to face yet another day of systematic humiliation by the minions of Sukarno and the PKI that actions and events were already underway which would reverse the course of years of Indonesian history in a matter of days? The Indonesians looked into the abyss, recoiled, and learned their lessons well. Their task and ours is to use those lessons equally well in the future.


Western Covert Intervention in Indonesia, October 1965 – March 1966

What was less easily resolved and which remains a mystery to this day, is whether Untung was acting on behalf of other forces. There has been a welter of conflicting theories as to who was behind the coup attempt.22 Some on the right have blamed the PKI, Red China, the pro-communist Indonesian Foreign Minister Subandrio or even Sukarno. Others, such as Scott, have constructed an elaborate conspiracy theory that the coup attempt was an army provocation, led by Suharto, to give a pretext for a crack-down on the communists.

There is insufficient space here to assess all the conflicting theories of the coup’s origins but looking at American, British and Australian primary sources it is apparent that despite their interest in covert action and propaganda, the Western powers were surprised by the coup attempt. In the first few days of October American, Australian and British diplomats in Jakarta were shocked and confused and had trouble in finding out what was going on.23 There is no evidence that the coup attempt was a Western-backed army provocation. Indeed, on 1 October the American Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Richard Helms, told George Ball at the State Department that the CIA ‘had had absolutely nothing to do with it’.24 The immediate suspicion of Western officials was of a possible connection to the PKI.25

Yet evidence for PKI involvement in the coup was not clear-cut. Communist transport and communications unions helped Untung on 1 October by cutting communications in and out of Jakarta and the next day a communist newspaper endorsed the action he had taken. The coup attempt was centred on the Halim air force base and made use of communist cadres being given military training there. But the PKI did not try to mobilize its massive party membership behind the coup and an American ‘clandestine source’ reported that the PKI central committee only decided to give Untung military support after hearing his radio broadcast on 1 October.26 After the coup had failed the PKI denied any involvement and claimed it had been an internal army matter, with junior officers attacking senior officers.

Faced with this conflicting evidence, privately Western policymakers were uncertain how far the PKI was responsible for the abortive coup. US State Department officials believed that the PKI had not planned or engineered the coup attempt.27 Instead they thought that Untung, without consulting the party, might have put into effect a communist contingency plan to seize power on the death of Sukarno. Certainly there had been a flurry of reports in August-September that the president was seriously ill and these could have sparked Untung into action. Once the coup was underway the PKI felt it had no choice but to get on board. Sir Andrew Gilchrist, the British Ambassador in Jakarta, suspected that the communists only became aware of Untung’s plan at a late stage and joined in because they feared that if the army crushed Untung it would crush them as well.28 The Australian Joint Intelligence Committee noted that while individual communist groups clearly participated in the coup, ‘evidence of actual PKI involvement – that is of prior planning by the Central Committee – is largely circumstantial’.29 By contrast, Marshall Green, the US Ambassador to Indonesia, was convinced that party chairman Aidit and other top PKI leaders ‘were almost certainly in on planning’ the coup although he conceded that the ‘PKI decision to participate seems to have been hurried one’.30

If Western policymakers were unsure about the role of the communists the Indonesian army appeared to have no doubts and it pressed Sukarno for strong action against the PKI. However, the president tried to protect the PKI and he refused to ban the party. He promised a peaceful political settlement and called for national unity, warning that division would only benefit the Nekolim. Reportedly at a cabinet meeting on 6 October Sukarno and Subandrio blamed the coup attempt on the CIA and alleged that the CIA’s aim was to spread confusion before an American and British invasion of Indonesia.31 The army, though, was not diverted by Sukarno’s appeals for unity and it began to move against the PKI. It arrested communist cadres and encouraged anti-PKI demonstrations in Jakarta. It also tried to mobilize public opinion by taking control of the mass media.32 The army closed down the communist press while ensuring the continued publication of military newspapers such as Angkatan Bersendjada, Berita Yudha and the English language Jakarta Daily Mail. It took control over Radio Indonesia and the Antara news agency, which was the main supplier of news carried by Indonesian radio stations and newspapers. Through these outlets the army attacked the PKI and linked it to Untung’s coup attempt. On 4 October an editorial in Angkatan Bersendjada lambasted the PKI as ‘devils’ who were ‘injecting poison into the Indonesian nation and the revolution’.33 Two days later the paper claimed the coup attempt was masterminded by the PKI and called on the government to declare the party illegal.34 One prominent theme in this propaganda campaign was the murder of the six Indonesian generals. The army-controlled media alleged that members of the PKI youth organization, Pemuda Rakjat, and the communist women’s group, Gerwani, had brutally tortured the generals before killing them.35 For example, on 10 October Berita Yudha reported that the generals’ eyes had been gouged out. These claims were untrue. Although the generals’ bodies had partially decomposed after being dumped in a well by the rebels, autopsies showed they had not been tortured or mutilated after death.36 Nonetheless this story became a central feature of the army’s propaganda campaign and a founding myth for the later Suharto regime.

In mid-October Suharto seems to have given approval for army units to deal with the PKI and the army rounded up and killed party members throughout the country. It also armed nationalist and Muslim groups, such as the Ansor Muslim youth organization, and encouraged them to eliminate the communists. The result was a wave of mass killings, spreading across Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and into Bali by December and then onto Timor, Flores and Lombok. News of the slaughter slowly reached Western diplomats in Jakarta, who had only limited information on what was happening outside the capital. On 9 November an Australian teacher returning from central Java reported ‘All manner of atrocities, stakes through heads, eye gouging, live burials being freely committed by both sides’.37 On 14 November an American missionary told her embassy of the massacre of 3,400 PKI activists by Ansor at Kediri, in East Java.38 An Indonesian source informed the British air attaché that PKI men and women were being executed in very large numbers.39 Often they were given knives and told to kill themselves. If they refused they were shot in the back. An American observer in Bali reported ‘many headless bodies encountered on roads’ and a traveller in Sumatra saw Muslim youth group members stop a bus, drag out numerous communist passengers and hack them to death.40 In February 1966 a visiting Australian diplomat learnt that 250 PKI members had been killed in the town of Kupang in Timor.41 He was told by the chief of the Public Works Department in Kupang that torture was the customary prelude to death and was in fact carried out in the army establishment next door to his own home. The nightly executions, carried out just outside Kupang, were open to the public provided those who attended took part in the executions. The Army was in complete control of these operations.

Precisely how many were killed in the massacres is not known and may never be known. Estimates varied widely.42 In January 1966 Colonel Stamboul, an army liaison officer, confided to the British military attaches that the army had no exact idea of the death toll but he estimated 500,000. Others in the army put the figure far higher. Major-General Adjie, the fiercely anti-communist commander of the Siliwangi division in West Java, told the Australian military attaché that nearly two million were killed. Short of hard evidence Western governments were cautious on the scale of the bloodletting. In April 1966 the State Department thought that around 300,000 had died.43 Even so, the violence from October 1965 to January 1966 would still rank as one of the largest mass killings of the twentieth century.

The army-controlled media in Indonesia did not report the massacres. Instead the media stoked up hatred of the communists by portraying them as sadistic murderers, intent on killing their opponents. It alleged that the coup attempt and the murder of the generals had been only the start of the communists’ plans for a reign of terror. Antara reported at the beginning of November that a list had been found in Garut of the names of hundreds of government officials the PKI had planned to kill if the coup had been a success.44 In December the news agency ran a story that Aidit had offered party activists in Java 25 million rupiahs if they murdered more than 1,000 people on a PKI black-list.45

Communist atrocity stories were also a prominent feature in the media.46 In November Antara claimed that Pemuda Rakjat members in Sumatra had kidnapped two youths and tortured them for five days, removing eyes and cutting off hands and testicles, before killing them. Another Pemuda Rakjat gang in Sumatra was alleged to have attacked Muslims praying on the bank of a river and again tortured and murdered them. The moral depravity of the communists was emphasized in other ways: Antara reported on 8 December that Aidit had encouraged the Gerwani and Pemuda Rakjat killers of the generals to take part in ‘delirious sexual orgies’ for six months before the coup.47 In December the Jakarta Daily Mail denounced the communists as ‘mentally and morally perverted creatures who consider slander, abduction, mutilation and murder their way of life’.48 The paper declared that there was no place for the PKI in God-fearing Indonesia and called on people to ‘Cast out this spawn of hell root and branch’. Such demonization of the PKI could only have fuelled the pogrom against the party. This is certainly what Sukarno feared. The Indonesian president tried to protect the communists from the massacres – he constantly called for calm and national unity, condemned the killings and threatened to punish by death those who used force against the PKI.49 He also repeatedly warned the press not to incite the public with inflammatory articles and irresponsible reporting.50 Sukarno and Subandrio both denied stories that the communists had tortured and mutilated the six generals during the coup.51 They pointed out that the general’s death certificates had not mentioned any ‘abnormalities’.

These efforts were in vain though. The army retained control of most of the media and it ensured that Sukarno’s message did not get through to the Indonesian public. Newspapers and Antara frequently failed to publish the text of speeches by the president.52 Other papers, such as the Jakarta Daily Mail, carried commentaries which distorted Sukarno’s remarks, to make them appear to add up to a case for destroying the PKI.53 Sukarno was powerless in the face of the massacres. During the period of repression the West gave covert support to the army. The Western powers had been greatly heartened by the events in Indonesia after 1 October. A real chance had appeared to smash the PKI and perhaps remove Sukarno, and the West was anxious that the army leaders fully seized the opportunity. As both the Australian and American embassies put it in telegrams on 5 October, it was ‘now or never’ for the army.54 The key question was how the West could best encourage and help Suharto and Nasution. Any overt support was likely to be counterproductive as Sukarno and Subandrio would immediately denounce Nekolim interference in Indonesia. The West would therefore have to be circumspect in its approach. For Green the priority was to smear the PKI’s image through propaganda. On 5 October the ambassador had urged Washington to ‘Spread the story of PKI’s guilt, treachery and brutality’, adding that this was ‘perhaps the most needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find way to do it without identifying it as sole or largely US effort’.55 The State Department agreed. It had already begun a VOA and information programme connecting the PKI to the coup attempt.56 Green appeared satisfied with the results. He cabled Washington on 7 November ‘that VOA doing good job’.57 There are also indications that the CIA carried out covert anti-PKI propaganda after the coup.58

The Australians were also active in this field. After 1 October the Department of External Affairs gave daily guidance to Radio Australia over its broadcasts to Indonesia.59 The Department stressed that Radio Australia should not give information to the Indonesian people that the army-controlled internal media would withhold, such as disavowals by the PKI of responsibility for the coup. Instead the station should highlight reports discrediting the PKI and showing its involvement in the Untung coup attempt. The station seems to have faithfully followed these guidelines, for Keith Shann, the Australian Ambassador in Jakarta, was pleased with Radio Australia’s output, describing it as ‘generally good’.60

For their part the Malaysians tried to blame the putsch on the communists and inflame popular feeling in Indonesia. For example, on 13 October a news commentator on Radio Malaysia read out an editorial from the Beirut newspaper Lissan Al-Hal which claimed that, ‘without the slightest shade of doubt’, the coup was contrived by the PKI.61 He recalled the murder of Naustion’s daughter and ‘the mutilated bodies of the six Muslim generals. who [were] dismembered, cut to small bits and thrown in a well’. Whipping up feelings further, the newsreader said ‘Such atrocities against Muslims cannot but make the blood boil in every Muslim heart . they open every Muslim eye to the dirty work which no communist lackey would hesitate to do whenever the master dictates’. The British were working on similar lines. The Foreign Office hoped to ‘encourage anti-Communist Indonesians to more vigorous action in the hope of crushing Communism in Indonesia altogether’ .62 The Information Research Department would stimulate broadcasts to Indonesia by the BBC, Radio Malaysia, Radio Australia and VOA. It would also try to disseminate propaganda through newspapers read in Indonesia such as the Straits Times. The same anti-PKI message was to be spread by more clandestine outlets, such as a ‘black transmitter’ (presumably Radio Free Indonesia) and ‘IRD’s regular newsletter’, which seems to have been ‘black’ propaganda prepared in Singapore by the Information Research Department’s South East Asia Monitoring Unit.63 Suggested propaganda themes included ‘PKI brutality in murdering Generals and families, Chinese interference, particularly arms shipments, PKI subverting Indonesia as the agents of foreign Communists’.64 On 9 October the Foreign Office reported that it was mounting some ‘short term unattributable ploys designed to keep the Indonesian pot boiling’.65

British propaganda efforts were strengthened by the arrival in November of Norman Reddaway as Political Warfare Coordinator in Singapore. Reddaway received news on the situation in Indonesia from the embassy in Jakarta and from intelligence sources, which seem to have included signals intelligence, as Britain had broken the Indonesian ciphers.66 He would then supply information that suited British purposes to news agencies, newspapers and radio via contacts in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. This news would be carried out into the world’s media and return to Indonesia, allowing Britain to influence Indonesian opinion. The reports were designed to damage the communists. A draft Foreign Office brief in late November explained that Britain had been ‘blackening the PKI’s reputation within Indonesia and outside, by feeding into the ordinary publicity media news from Indonesia that associates the PKI and the Chinese with Untung’s treachery plus corresponding covert activity’. Thus, despite some private doubts over communist responsibility for the coup attempt, all four Western powers used the media to pin the blame on the PKI and discredit the party in Indonesia. This propaganda offensive supported the army’s own activities, as the stories on VOA, Radio Malaysia, Radio Australia and the BBC and in the press confirmed the stories in the army-controlled media. The synergy between the two publicity campaigns was not accidental. The British and Americans recycled reports from Radio Jakarta or the army newspapers by broadcasting them back to Indonesia.67 For example, on 5 November the Jakarta Daily Mail claimed that on the day of the coup 100 women from Gerwani had tortured one of the generals by using razor blades and knives to slash his genitals before he was shot.68 In December an Information Research Department official noted that this atrocity story would be included in the South East Asia Monitoring Unit’s propaganda output.69 Furthermore the Indonesian army actively advised the Western powers on the themes they should or should not use in their propaganda. On 2-3 November Indonesian Brigadier-General Sukendro had secret talks in Bangkok with Dato Ghazali Shafie, the Permanent Secretary at the Malaysian Ministry of External Affairs.70 Sukendro said that Radio Malaysia should not give the army ‘too much credit’ or criticize Sukarno but should emphasize PKI atrocities and the party’s role in the coup. Sukendro also asked for help in ‘the character and political assassination’ of Subandrio and offered to send background information on the Foreign Minister which could be used by the Malaysians. On 5 November an Indonesian military contact also approached the Americans and warned them against broadcasts that implied approval of army actions.71 An officer in the army information section told Shann that Radio Australia should never suggest that the army was pro-Western or rightist and should mention other organizations, such as Muslim and youth groups, opposing the PKI.72

As well as using propaganda against the PKI the Western powers helped the army in other ways. The Americans set up a back-channel link to the army leaders through Colonel Willis Ethel, the US Army Attaché in Jakarta, who regularly met with an aide to Naustion. Through this channel the Americans reassured the Indonesian army about British activities and intentions, for although these two groups shared a common interest in the removal of the communists, because of the Confrontation the army was suspicious of Britain.

The mistrust could reach ludicrous levels. In mid-October Nasution’s aide quizzed Ethel about reports of British arms shipments to the PKI and asked whether the coup could have been a plot by Britain and communist China.73 To Washington these bizarre ideas showed the ‘somewhat naïve international view ‘ of the army leaders, but they genuinely seemed to suspect a conspiracy between London and Beijing.74 Ethel had to assure them that Britain had not colluded with the Chinese and the PKI.75

Ethel also gave a broader assurance that Britain would not escalate the Confrontation while the army was dealing with the communists. With the approval of London, on 14 October Ethel told Nasution’s aide that the British did not intend to start any offensive military action.76 In early November the British and Australians reinforced this message.77 Counsellor James Murray promised General Mokoginta, the Commander of Indonesian Armed Forces in Sumatra, that Britain had no intention of stepping up the Confrontation while the army was engaged with the PKI. Gilchrist and Shann said the same thing to Helmi, an Under-Secretary at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who was close to the army. Shann declared that the army ‘would be completely safe in using their forces for whatever purpose they saw fit’.78 The Indonesian army could suppress the communists without worrying about British and Australian operations in the Confrontation. In addition, the Americans secretly gave the army material aid. At the end of October Sukendro asked the US for medical supplies, communications equipment, rice and small arms to support the army’s campaign against the PKI.79 Washington was willing to help but it knew that there were major political risks involved. If American aid was exposed Sukarno and Subandrio would have proof of Nekolim interference in Indonesian internal affairs and this would seriously embarrass both the United States and the army. So the Americans moved carefully. On 12 November the State Department informed the British and Australians that the US had agreed to send $100,000-worth of medical supplies to the Indonesian army via covert channels.80 The 303 Committee also agreed on 19 November to give the army leaders a secure communications system, to maintain contact with each other and with ‘U.S. elements’.81 In interviews in 1981-82 Sukendro confirmed that the US had secretly supplied medicines, radios and small arms through the Bangkok CIA station.82 Money may have been provided as well – in December Green recommended a ‘black bag’ operation giving 50 million rupiahs to Adam Malik, a key figure in KAP-Gestapu, an army-inspired action group that organized anti-PKI demonstrations.83

Finally, the US supplied the army with intelligence.84 The American embassy in Jakarta had compiled lists of names of the PKI leadership and senior cadres and, according to Green, this information was superior to anything held by the Indonesian army. After the coup attempt embassy officials passed on to the army lists of names of known PKI leaders. The army could use this information to round up key communists and dismantle the party structure.

The actions taken by the army in suppressing the communists did seem to trouble the consciences of some of the Western ambassadors in Jakarta. In a telegram to Canberra on 19 December Shann wrote that ‘In many cases the massacre of entire families because one member spoke to the Communists, has occurred. Some of the methods adopted are unspeakable . [It has been] a blood-bath of savage intensity, remarkably unpublicised and locally regarded with a ghoulish cynicism’.85 Gilchrist asked Reddaway in February 1966 ‘What have we to hope from the [Indonesian] generals? 400,000 people murdered, far more than total casualties in Vietnam+nobody cares. “They were communists.” Were they? And are communists not human beings?’86

Yet the massacre of thousands of communists did not affect Western policy.

The logic of the Cold War meant that the army was fulfilling the Western interest by eliminating the PKI and removing the danger of Indonesia falling to communism. The army was also the only means to dispose of Sukarno and end the Confrontation. Therefore, despite distaste for the army’s methods, the West still wanted to support it. The main problem for this policy was not ethical concerns but the fear that overt aid could embarrass the army in its power struggle with Sukaro and Subandrio. On 1-2 December 1965 American, Australian, British and New Zealand officials held secret Quadripartite talks to coordinate policy towards Indonesia.87 The mass killings were not even mentioned. Instead the officials discussed the difficulties in helping the army while Sukarno and Subandrio remained in power. The West still had to take care not to make the army appear to be Nekolim stooges and for this reason it was agreed at the meeting that ‘except for some cautious propaganda (on lines already agreed) we should take no initiative at this moment to help the Generals’.

There was another reason why the West would not offer greater aid, especially economic aid: the army did not seem to want it. In November Sukendro had raised the possibility of the US and Malaysia giving rice, which was in short supply in some areas in Indonesia.88 But by the middle of December the army leaders seemed to have abandoned this idea. On 13 December Malik told Green that there was an urgent need for food and clothing in Indonesia but Suharto and Nasution wanted to let Sukarno and Subandrio ‘stew in their own juice’.89 Economic mismanagement hurt the civilian government, not the army, and if the situation worsened Sukarno and Subandrio would be blamed. Malik advised the US not to give aid yet.

Malik’s prediction about the effects of economic distress soon came true. To try and rescue the floundering economy in mid-December Sukarno’s government devalued the rupiah by an order of 1,000 and then quadrupled fuel prices in early January.90 These harsh fiscal measures provoked mass student protests. An Indonesian Student Action Front, composed mainly of Muslim and nationalist students, organized demonstrations. They linked economic discontent to political protest, demanding not just a reduction in prices but also the removal of left-wing ministers, such as Subandrio, and the formal banning of the PKI. The army gave covert assistance to the students, transporting them to demonstrations and protecting them. The army leaders saw the student protests as a way to undermine Sukarno’s rule and ease him and Subandrio from office.

In their campaign the army and students again received propaganda support from the West. Reddaway reported on 11 February that: We have . stepped up our efforts. The Malaysian black radio is taking our tapes, material written by us in Djakarta is appearing in Middle East Muslim newspapers and being repeated by Radio Malaysia so that Indonesians hear it. The newsletter undoubtedly continues to get through and be read. We pick up anti-Subandrio propaganda circulated within Indonesia and get it published world-wide via news agencies in Hong Kong.91

On 21 February Sukarno tried to reassert his authority by reshuffling his cabinet and sacking Nasution as Defence Minister. But this move backfired. It triggered off even larger student demonstrations, again abetted by the army, and on 11 March troops mounted a show of force outside Sukarno’s palace. Under this pressure Sukarno yielded and he signed a letter of authority handing over executive power to Suharto. Although Sukarno remained nominally in charge real power was now in the hands of the army. The Western allies were delighted with the army’s seizure of power. An American official explained to President Johnson on 12 March that:

It is hard to overestimate the potential significance of the army’s apparent victory over Sukarno (even though the latter remains as a figurehead). Indonesia has more people – and probably more resources – than all of mainland Southeast Asia. It was well on the way to becoming another expansionist Communist state, which would have critically menaced the rear of the whole Western position in mainland Southeast Asia. Now, though the unforeseen can always happen, this trend has been sharply reversed.92

The pro-communist trend had indeed been reversed. During the remainder of 1966 and 1967 Suharto moved methodically to undo all of Sukarno’s policies. He banned the PKI, detained Subandrio, ended Confrontation with Malaysia, rejoined the United Nations and froze relations with communist China. Sukarno was stripped of his remaining powers and died in obscurity.

Indonesia was saved for the West.

The question remains of how far the Western powers were responsible for this outcome. Did Western covert intervention in Indonesia cause the destruction of the PKI and the removal of Sukarno? The origins of the coup attempt in October 1965 remain obscure but on the evidence from currently available American, Australian and British archives it does not seem to have been a Western-inspired or -supported plot. Certainly the West gave covert support to the army after the coup but it appears, as Brands argues, that the indigenous actors were the key to events in Indonesia from October 1965 to March 1966. It was the army that chose to crush the communists and topple Sukarno’s government. While the attitude of the West may have encouraged the army to move against the PKI it probably did not need much encouragement. Nasution, for example, whose daughter had been murdered in the coup, had reasons enough of his own. The United States did help the army by providing radios, medicine, small arms and lists of names and by giving assurances that Britain would not escalate the Confrontation, but this support was not essential to the army’s success.

Western propaganda may have been of more importance in bringing down Sukarno’s regime and in inciting the massacre of the communists. The documentary sources do, for example, corroborate a lot of Lashmar and Oliver’s revelations about British covert propaganda operations in 1965-66. The influence of the West on the anti-communist Terror should not be exaggerated though. The killings were not just political acts in the Cold War, they were also a complex sociological phenomenon and the perpetrators had a wide variety of local motives.93 The PKI had supported land reform in rural areas and this had created bitter resentment between peasant party members and small landlords. Muslims and, in Bali, Hindus were driven by religious fervour to slaughter the atheist communists. The killings sometimes had racial overtones, such as attacks on ethnic Chinese in North Sumatra. In the frenzy of violence people saw a chance to satisfy personal vendettas. Other factors than propaganda drove civilians to murder suspected communists. The killings were not just a reaction to Western propaganda – they were the culmination of years of built up tension and hatred.

It can also be questioned how large the audience for Western propaganda actually was. Australian officials believed that the only about 60 per cent of the adult Indonesian population was literate and the number of newspaper readers was thought to be just 500,000.94 Radio was a more important source of news but the number of listeners was still limited. Radio Indonesia estimated in 1963 that there were 3.5 million radio sets in the country with an effective listenership of 17 million, but this might have been an underestimate, as one radio set could be listened to by a large number in a small village which had no other sources of information.

Of the foreign radio stations Radio Australia was generally agreed to be the most popular, indeed an army officer told the Australians in September 1965 that Radio Australia was more popular than Radio Indonesia.95 It was listened to by the elite – Nasution was said to be a regular listener – and by students, who liked it because it played rock music, which had been officially banned in Indonesia. The BBC Indonesian service had far fewer listeners and was dismissed in an Information Research Department report in June 1965 as being ‘probably only of marginal value’.96 Voice of America suffered from having a weak signal and was difficult to hear.97 Green complained to Washington on 19 October 1965 about the ‘appalling inadequacy of VOA signal to Indonesia’ and called for emergency measures to give a clear reception.98 Radio Malaysia was audible, but in the opinion of Gilchrist it was not trusted by Indonesians and therefore had no great influence.99 The audiences of the West’s covert propaganda outlets are impossible to gauge, but judging by the relatively few newspaper readers and radio listeners in Indonesia, Western propaganda may have only been able to reach and affect a limited number of people.

Nevertheless, there are signs that Western propaganda may have had an impact. The Indonesian government seemed to notice the propaganda campaign and feel threatened by it. In a speech in January 1966 Sukarno declared those unhappy with his leadership should say so openly and ‘not carry out campaigns of secret slander inspired by Nekolim to bring about his downfall’ .100 In February an editorial in the Indonesian Herald newspaper, which acted as the mouthpiece for Subandrio’s Foreign Ministry, warned of a ‘Necolim psywar’ being used to ‘subdue our revolution’.101

On the other side, British officials believed that their propaganda had been effective. Gilchrist wrote in April 1966 that military and political propaganda pressure on Indonesia ‘has had no small effect in breaking up the Soekarno regime’.102 Reportedly, Sir John Grandy, the British Commander in Chief in the Far East, thought Reddaway’s propaganda work ‘made an outstanding contribution to the campaign against the Indonesians’.103

The explanations ordinary Indonesians gave for the massacres also appeared to show the influence of propaganda. Western journalists travelling in Java and Bali in the spring and summer of 1966 observed that people repeatedly justified the killings as self-defence. Seymour Topping wrote in the New York Times that ‘Many Indonesians say bluntly “It was them or us”‘.104 He heard rumours in the towns of the PKI digging mass graves prior to the coup and PKI files naming high-ranking army officers, local officials and religious leaders that were to be executed. Stanley Karnow reported in the Washington Post that ‘Everywhere . people sought to justify the destruction of the Communists with the same phrase “If we hadn’t done it to them they would have done it to us”‘.105 He believed this pervasive attitude was largely due to the ‘the brutal fashion in which the Communists murdered [the] six army generals’. Dennis Warner, quoted an Indonesian in The Sydney Morning Herald as saying ‘I think the murder of the generals and Nasution’s daughter had such an impact on us all, especially when we learnt what was in store for the rest of us, that no one had any sympathy for the PKI’.106

Clearly, some of the themes of the propaganda campaign are present here but there is a difficulty in separating out the effects of internal army propaganda from Western propaganda, as both were conveying the same message. It is likely that Western propaganda played a secondary, supporting role. The news coming from abroad would have confirmed the stories Indonesians were hearing at home – that the PKI had masterminded the coup, that communist women tortured and murdered the six generals, that the communists had planned to massacre their enemies. Western propaganda helped build up the picture of the communists as menacing, bloodthirsty killers that needed to be eradicated. The impact of this campaign was to dehumanize the communists and make it easier to murder them. As one Indonesian civilian, who executed 18 communists, put it to a journalist in 1966 ‘I did not kill people. I killed wild animals’.107 To this extent Western covert intervention may have encouraged the massacres in Indonesia in the winter of 1965-66.


1. Scott, ‘The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno’
2, Scott, ‘The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno’, 239
3. Brands, ‘The Limits of Manipulation’
4. Brands, ‘The Limits of Manipulation’, 787.
5. Lashmar and Oliver, Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, 1-10.
6. Lashmar and Oliver, Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, 1.
7. Lashmar and Oliver allege that in 1962 the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and the American President John Kennedy secretly agreed to ‘liquidate’ Sukarno. This allegation was recently repeated in Blum, Killing Hope. The original basis for this claim is a partially declassified CIA document, Declassified Documents Referencing Service (DDRS), British Library of Political and Economic Science, 1975, Item 240A, CIA Report CS-3/522,563, 17 September 1962. In this document the writer does claim that Macmillan and Kennedy had agreed to liquidate Sukarno. However, although the document has been partially sanitized, it is fairly clear that it is a report from an Indonesian diplomat or intelligence officer which had been obtained by the CIA (the writer tells a Pakistani diplomat that Pakistan should leave the Western bloc and become neutralist; he interchangeably refers to Indonesia and ‘we’ buying parachutes from Pakistan). Furthermore the writer’s claim about the Kennedy-Macmillan plot is, by his own admission, based on ‘impressions I have received in conversations with Western diplomats’ and not on hard evidence. The document might illustrate Indonesian fears about Western intentions but it offers no proof of an Anglo-American plot in 1962 to liquidate Sukarno.
8. The National Archives (TNA) (Public Records Office) CAB 148/19 OPD(65)25, 26 January 1965; National Intelligence Memorandum NIE 54/55-65, 1 July 1965, FRUS, Indonesia 1964-68, vol. 26, 270-71.
9. Easter, ‘British and Malaysian Covert Support’.
10. Easter, ‘British Intelligence and Propaganda’.
11. TNA FO 1101/1, Minute ‘War of nerves Indonesia’, not dated.
12. Easter, ‘British Intelligence and Propaganda’ , 93-4.
13. TNA FO 371/187587, Minute Stanley to Edmonds, 17 June 1966; TNA FO 371/181530, Telegram 2645 Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO) to Kuala Lumpur, 19 October 1965.
14. TNA DEFE 28/144, Minute Drew to PS/Minister, 19 December 1963; TNA FO 953/2140, Telegram 2380 Kuala Lumpur to CRO, 25 October 1963.
15. Political Action Paper, 19 November 1964; Memorandum for 303 Committee, 23 February 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 181-84; 234-37.
16. Memorandum for 303 Committee, 23 February 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 234-7.
17. TNA FO 371/180337, Despatch 10342/65 Stewart to Peck, 26 April 1965.
18. Report from Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker to President Johnson, not dated, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 256.
19. National Archives of Australia (NAA) A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, ‘Overseas broadcasts to Indonesia. Discussions with United States’ officials’, Canberra 3-4 August 1965, not dated; Bunnell, ‘American “Low Posture” Policy towards Indonesia’.
20. NAA A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, Telegram 2122 Washington to Department of External Affairs (DEA), 22 June 1965.
21. NAA A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, ‘Overseas Broadcasts to Indonesia. Discussions with United States’ Officials’, Canberra 3-4 August 1965, not dated.
22. For an examination of the different theories see Crouch, The Army and Politics in Indonesia, 97-134, and Elson, Suharto, 110-18.
23. DDRS, Retrospective Collection, Item 605D, Telegram 800 Jakarta to Washington, 1 October 1965; NAA A6364/4 JA 1965/07, Telegram 1149, Jakarta to Canberra, 1 October 1965; TNA FO 371/180317, Gilchrist to Foreign Office (FO), 3 October 1965.
24. FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 301 footnote.
25. TNA FO 371/180317, Telegram Guidance 398 CRO to Kuala Lumpur, 4 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/18/8 Part 1, Telegram 3445 Washington to DEA, 4 October 1965.
26. DDRS, Retrospective Collection, Item 29C, CIA Office of Central Intelligence, OCI No 2342/65, 28 October 1965.
27. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 1, Telegram 3445 Washington to DEA, 4 October 1965; Telegram 3442 Washington to DEA, 4 October 1965.
28. TNA FO 371/180320, Despatch DH1015/2/5 Gilchrist to Stewart, 19 October 1965.
29. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 7, Note ‘Indonesia, PKI Responsibility for the Attempted Coup’, 9 December 1965.
30. Telegram 1184 Jakarta to State Dept, 26 October 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 335-7.
31. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 28E, Telegram CIA/OCI 12980 Jakarta to Washington, 6 October 1965; Retrospective Collection, Item 29A, Telegram CIA/OCI 13185 Jakarta to Washington, 8 October 1965.
32. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 1, Telegram 1156 Shann to DEA, 2 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 2, UPI report 274, 11 October 1965; NAA A6364/JA1965/015 Political Savingram 52, Jakarta to DEA, 15 October 1965; TNA FO 371/180317, Telegram 2083 Gilchrist to FO, 8 October 1965.
33. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 1, Telegram 1169 Jakarta to DEA, 5 October 1965.
34. TNA FO 371/180317, Telegram 2061 Gilchrist to FO, 6 October 1965.
35. Anderson, ‘How did the Generals Die?’
36. Anderson, ‘How did the Generals Die?’. Simons, Indonesia: The Long Oppression, 173-4.
37. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 5, Record of a conversation with Marietta Smith, 9 November 1965.
38. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 615C, Telegram 171 Surabaya to Jakarta, 14 November 1965.
39. TNA FO 371/180325, Letter by Charney, 24 November 1965.
40. Lyndon Johnson National Security Files (NSF), Kings College, London, Reel 8 634-6, Telegram 1814 Jakarta to State Dept, 21 December 1965; Sydney Morning Herald, 30 December 1965.
41. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 11, Despatch Starey to DEA, 25 February 1966.
42. NAA A1838/3034/1 Part 2, Visit to Indonesian Military Establishments 20-27 June 1966 by Warner, 30 June 1966. TNA FO 371/186027, Despatch 1011/66 Jakarta to FO, 13 January 1966.
43. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 13 Memo No 601/66 Birch to DEA, 19 April 1966.
44. TNA FO 371/180322, Telegram 2426 Jakarta to FO, 3 November 1965.
45. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 8, UPI report 284, 18 December 1965.
46. TNA FO 371/180323, Cambridge to Tonkin, 9 November 1965; Telegram 2528 Gilchrist to FO, 13 November 1965.
47. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 7, UPI report 264, 8 December 1965; UPI report 265, 8 December 1965.
48. TNA FO 371/180325, Jakarta Daily Mail, 11 December 1965.
49. NAA A1209/1965/6674 Part 1, Telegram 1278 Jakarta to DEA, 22 October 1965; Telegram 1294 Jakarta to DEA, 26 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 8, UPI report 10, 17 December 1965.
50. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 5, UPI report 96, 10 November 1965; NAA A6364/JA1965/015, Savingram 59, Jakarta to DEA, 25 November 1965.
51. NAA A1838/3006/4/9 Part 30, Interview Subandrio and Hastings, 15 December 1965; NAA A6364/JA1965/015, Savingram 62 Jakarta to DEA, 17 December 1965.
52. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 611C, Telegram 1195 Jakarta to State Dept, 25 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/1 Part 48, Macdonnell to Ottawa, 18 November 1965.
53. NAA A6364/JA1965/015, Savingram 64 Jakarta to DEA, 23 December 1965.
54. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 28C, Telegram CIA/OCI 12848 Jakarta to Washington, 5 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 1, Telegram 1172, Shann to DEA, 5 October 1965.
55. Telegram 868 Green to State Dept, 5 October 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’” 307-8.
56. Telegram 400 State Dept to Jakarta, 6 October 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 308-10.
57. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 613A, Telegram 1353 Jakarta to State Dept, 7 November 1965.
58. McGehee, Deadly Deceits , 57-8.
59. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 3, Minute Hay to Minister, 18 October 1965.
60. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 3, Minute Hay to Minister, 18 October 1965; Najjarine and Cottle, ‘The Department of External Affairs’
61. TNA FO 371/180320, Radio Malaysia 2140 hours News Commentary, 13 October 1965.
62. TNA DEFE 25/170, Telegram 1863 FO to Singapore, 8 October 1965.
63. TNA FO 371/187587, Adams to de la Mare, attached diagram, 2 June 1966.
64. TNA FO 371/181455, Telegram 2679 CRO to Canberra, 13 October 1965.
65. TNA FO 371/181530, Telegram 1460 Stanley to Reddaway, 9 October 1965.
66. Easter, ‘British Intelligence and Propaganda’ , 85; TNA FO1101/5, Minute Reddaway to Tovey, 30 October 1965.
67. TNA FO 371/181455, Minute Stanley to Cable, 7 October 1965; Telegram 2679 CRO to Canberra, 13 October 1965.
68. TNA FO 371/180324, Despatch DH 1015/311 Jakarta to FO, 22 November 1965.
69. TNA FO 371/180324, Minute by Weilland, 22 December 1965.
70. TNA FO 371/181457, Record of meeting between Ghazali and Sukendro on 2-3 November 1965, 10 November 1965.
71. Lyndon Johnson NSF, Reel 8, 338-9, Telegram 1357 Jakarta to Washington, 5 November 1965.
72. NAA A6364/JA1965/10, Telegram 1340 Shann to Canberra, 5 November 1965.
73. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 610B, Telegram 497 State Dept to Jakarta, 21 October 1965; Johnson NSF, Reel 8, 251-2, Telegram 1139 Jakarta to State Dept, 22 October 1965.
74. Intelligence Memorandum OCI No 2942/65, 18 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 372.
75. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 611D, Telegram 526 State Dept to Jakarta, 26 October 1965; Johnson NSF Reel 8, 288-289, Telegram 1201, Jakarta to State Dept, 26 October 1965.
76. Telegram unnumbered, Jakarta to State Dept, 10 October 1965; Telegram 1006 Jakarta to State Dept, 14 October 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 317-18; 321-2.
77. TNA FO 371/181457, Record of Conversation with General Mokoginta by James Murray, 9 November 1965; Telegram 2509 Gilchrist to FO, 12 November 1965.
78. NAA A6364/JA1965/10, Telegram 1383 Shann to DEA, 12 November 1965.
79. Telegram 1288 Jakarta to State Dept, 1 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 345-7.
80. Telegram 749 State Dept to Bangkok, 4 November 1965; Telegram 951 Bangkok to State Dept, 11 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 357-8; 364-6.
81. Memorandum for 303 Committee, 17 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 368-71.
82. Bunnell, ‘American “Low Posture” Policy towards Indonesia’, 59, footnote. On the supply of radios see also a letter from the journalist Kathy Kadane to the Editor, New York Review of Books, 10 April 1997.
83. Telegram 1628 Jakarta to State Dept, 2 December 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 379-80.
84. Editorial Note, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 386-7; Article by Kathy Kadane in San Francisco Examiner, 20 May 1990.
85. NAA A6364/JA1965/10, Telegram 1503 Jakarta to DEA, 19 December 1965.
86. TNA FO 1101/30, Gilchrist to Reddaway, 9 February 1966.
87. NAA A1209/1968/9055, Memorandum by Eastman for DEA, 9 December 1966.
88. TNA FO 371/181457, Record of meeting Ghazali and Sukendro on 2-3 November 1965, 10 November 1965; Telegram 1288 Jakarta to State Dept, 1 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 345-7.
89. NAA A1838 3034/2/1/8 Part 8, Telegram 8 Washington to DEA, 4 January 1966; Memorandum of conversation, 14 February 1966, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 399-401.
90. NAA A1838 3034/2/1/8 Part 7, UPI report 284, 14 December 1965. NAA A1838 3034/2/1/8 Part 8, UPI report 230, 4 January 1966.
91. TNA FO 1101/23, Minute by Reddaway, 11 February 1966. Reddaway’s comments suggest that the editorial in Lissan Al-Hal broadcast by Radio Malaysia on 13 October 1965 may have been British-inspired.
92. Memorandum Komer to Johnson, 12 March 1966, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 419.
93. Cribb, The Indonesian Killings 1965-1966
94. NAA A1838/3034/1 Part 2, ‘Head of Mission Meeting, Bangkok, December 1965, Indonesia’, not dated. NAA A1838/570/5/1/4 Part 1, Upton to DEA, not dated.
95. NAA A1838/555/1/9 Part 2, Conversation Sofjan and Jackson, 21 September 1965; NAA A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, Memorandum ‘Radio Australia Indonesian Audience’, by Barnett, not dated; TNA FO1101/1, Gilchrist to Reddaway, 11 August 1965.
96. TNA FO1101/1, Report by Drinkall, 3 June 1965. Audience figures were assessed by the number of letters the station received from Indonesian listeners. While Radio Australia received 16,000 letters a month, the BBC Indonesia service received 4,000 letters a year. NAA A1838 555/1/9 Part 2, Memorandum ‘Australian information policy towards Indonesia’, not dated; TNA FO1101/11, Reddaway to Commander in Chief, 3 March 1966.
97. NAA A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, Telegram 2069 Washington to DEA, 17 June 1965.
98. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 609G, Telegram 1086 Jakarta to State Dept, 19 October 1965.
99. TNA FO1101/1, Gilchrist to Reddaway, 11 August 1965.
100. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 9, Savingram 3 Jakarta to DEA, 19 January 1965.
101. TNA FO1101/23, Indonesian Herald, 3 February 1966.
102. TNA FO 371/186044, Despatch 5 Gilchrist to Stewart, 12 April 1966.
103. TNA FO 1101/32, Telegram 205 POLAD Singapore to Bangkok, 26 September 1966.
104. New York Times, 24 August 1966.
105. Washington Post, 16 April 1966.
106. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 June 1966.
107. The Australian, 22 April 1966.

Anderson B. How Did the Generals Die?, Indonesia, 43 (1987) 109-34.
Brands H.W. The Limits of Manipulation: How the United States didn’t Topple Sukarno, Journal of American History, 76(3) (1989) 785-808.
Blum William Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War 2. London: Zed Books (2003).
Bunnell F. American “Low Posture” Policy towards Indonesia in the Months
Leading Up to the 1965 Coup, Indonesia, 50 (1990) 29-60.
Cribb R. The Indonesian Killings 1965-1966: Studies from Java and Bali.
Clayton: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University (1991).
Crouch Harold The Army and Politics in Indonesia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press (1978).
Easter David, British and Malaysian Covert Support for Rebel Movements in Indonesia during the “Confrontation”, 1963-66, The Clandestine Cold War in Asia 1945-65, R. Aldrich, G. Rawnsley and M. Rawnsley. London: Frank Cass (2000) 195-208.
British Intelligence and Propaganda during the “Confrontation”1963-66, Intelligence and National Security, 16(2) (2001) 83-102.
Elson R. Suharto: A Political Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2001).
Lashmar Paul and Oliver James. Britain’s Secret Propaganda War. Stroud: Sutton Publishing (1998).
McGehee R. Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA. New York: Sheridan Square Press (1983).
Najjarine K. and D. Cottle. The Department of External Affairs, the ABC and Reporting of the Indonesian Crisis 1965-1969, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 49(1) (2003) 48-60.
Scott Paul The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-67, Pacific Affairs, 58(2) (1985) 239-64.
Simons G. Indonesia: The Long Oppression. Basingstoke: Macmillan (2000).
TNA FO, 371/181457, Minute Stanley to Peck, 25 November 1965.
US Senate Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS). Indonesia 1964-68, vol. 26. Washington: United States

Government Printing Office (2001).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s