Indonesia 1965: The Second Greatest Crime of the Century

Book Cover: Indonesia 1965: The Second Greatest Crime of the Century

Before October 1965, Indonesia had the largest left movement outside the socialist countries, while the government of President Sukarno pursued a militantly anti-imperialist foreign policy.

This book tells of the massacres following the October 1, 1965, military takeover that decimated the Indonesian left. It focuses on the role of Washington in providing essential clandestine support for the right-wing generals in that bloodbath.

This book was first published in 1970.


The Bloodbath

Between October 1, 1965, and April or May of the following year, the right-wing military regime of Generals Nasution and Suharto seized power and consolidated its strength in Indonesia. In that scant seven months as many as a million people were slaughtered. The rising toll of victims appeared occasionally in the press here, recorded with little more passion than a sports score.

Some accounts of the appalling massacres did in time find their way into the papers of London and New York. Their tone was fatalistic, implying that the unbelievable carnage described was the product of a bloodlust and disregard for human life inconceivable to "civilized" Westerners. There was no sense of urgency about these reports, as though nothing could be done to stem the gory tide.


No member of Parliament or Congress rose to condemn the butchery. No relief or rescue agencies attempted to intervene on behalf of the political prisoners. Only a few isolated voices in the West tried to raise an outcry in the face of such awful silence.

Over four years later [in 1970], several hundred thousand political prisoners still rot in jail. There have been repeated purges of the armed forces and the civil service. The fascist military regime is debating whether or not to carry out mass executions, claiming it no longer can afford to feed the mass of prisoners.

American capital is moving into Indonesia once again to explore offshore areas for oil, reactivate existing wells, and mine copper in West Irian. Properties nationalized under President Sukarno have been returned to their U.S. and European former owners.

Indonesia seems to be right back where it was before World War II, before the rising nationalist movement swept out the Dutch and the 3,000 separate islands of the Netherlands East Indies united in the new and militant Republic of Indonesia. How did it happen? And what really happened?

There is a standard phrase that appears in all the Western news accounts. It is "the attempted Communist coup." The massacre of hundreds of thousands of civilians was justified, so this official account goes, as a reaction to an attempted coup by the Communists on September 30, when six right-wing army generals were killed.

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