30 January 2011
26 January 2011
10 January 2011
Alex de Jong
The 1960s were worldwide a period of turbulence and change. But whereas in many parts of the world, the decade is often remembered as a time of exuberance and hope, in Indonesia it’s split in half by a wave of intense violence. About 45 years ago, one of the great crimes of the twentieth century took place: from early October 1965 to March 1966, after a coup attempt by pro-Communist Party officers backfired, Indonesia witnessed the bloodiest massacres in its history.
The predominant form of the killings was an anti-Communist pogrom, targeting not only the leaders of the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Kommunis Indonesia, PKI) and its allied organizations but also their rank and file. Thousands died in these targeted, systematic killings. The outcome of the killings was the establishment of Suharto’s Orde Baru or New Order dictatorship. “1965” became the founding myth of Suharto’s regime. The memory of it was simultaneously repressed and instrumentalized, formed and denied: “don’t talk about the killings”, “the killings were a period of mass hysteria”, “society ran amok”, “the killings were caused by fighting among the Communists”, “don’t support communism, remember how they killed those people in 1965” – and, in hushed voices; “don’t support communism, remember how we crushed the PKI”.