UN HIGH COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
11 of the Provisional Agenda
AND POLITICAL RIGHTS INCLUDING
QUESTIONS OF TORTURE AND DETENTION
World Movement Against the
Exploitation of Women
by Ribka Tjiptaning MD
name is Ribka Tjiptaning. I speak on behalf of the Third World Movement
Against the Exploitation of Women. I am a daughter of a human rights
victim of the 1965 tragedy.
all know, that military regime led by General Suharto, in the year 1965,
seized power in Indonesia.
This seized of power committed acts of severe violence towards certain
parts of the civilian population. They were allegedly members of the
Indonesian Communist Party or other organizations affiliated to this
political party. To secure its power, the Suharto’s regime,
furthermore detained hundred thousands of people without any judicial
process, without clear charges, without time limit. In the year 1967
Attorney General admitted that some 200.000 people were put in the
concentration camps. Not only were they detained, they also experienced
would like to give testimony of the situation of torture and detention as
experience by my father from 1968 until 1980.
father, Mr. R.M. Suripto Tjondrosaputro, owned a factory producing nails,
but he was also a member of the Executive Board of a progressive youth
was only 7 years old when my father was detained for over 12 years. He
was detained without proper judicial
process. He imprisoned in several cities, in Jakarta, Semarang,
Pekalongan, and Ambarawa. During his detainment, he experienced torture
in the form of receiving electric shocks; hanged upside down until blood
flowed from his ears, nose and mouth; burnt by hot iron on his back until
he got a stroke. His physique was totally in a poor health condition when
he came back to my family.
father died in 1991 by heart attack as an effect of bad conditions during
the detainment. What had happened with my father has influence me until
now, because I believe this was also experienced by hundreds thousands of
political prisoners and detainee of the 1965 victims.
make it even worse, since the 1965, the practice of torture continues
until now in others human rights violation cases such as in Aceh and
Papua. This is primarily due to the lack of proper response from the
state to take the responsibility over human rights violations since 1965.
the tragedies that have affected the lives of the 1965 victims and their
families, I herewith present you the following requests:
1. I urge the
commission to take notice of the crimes against humanity committed by the
military regime of General Suharto during their
32 years of reign since 1965.
2. I ask the
commission to urge the government of Indonesia
to set up a national investigation team on the human rights violation,
which occurred in 1965 and the impact.
3. I ask the
commission to urge the government of Indonesia
to bring justice to the victim 1965 using the human rights standards.
4. I ask the
commission to urge the government of Indonesia
to apply the recommendation of the Committee Against Torture in 2001.
5. I ask the
commission to urge the government of Indonesia
to invite the Special Rapporteur on Torture.
will end here. Thank you for this opportunity.
HIGH COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
11 of the Provisional Agenda
AGAINST HUMANITY AND GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDONESIA
COMMITTED BY THE MILITARY REGIME OF GENERAL SUHARTO
Advisor to PAKORBA (Communion of victims of the New Order Regime Indonesia).
Former Minister for Electricity and Energy of the Republic
Associate Member of the ALRC (Asian Legal Resource Centre)
Associate Member of the WPC (World Peace Council)
the military regime led by general Suharto had seized power in the Republic
in the year 1965, it perpetrated acts of severe violence towards certain
parts of the civilian population. The acts amounted to gross violations
of human rights and crimes against humanity on an immense scale.
regime orchestrated. Incited and in part carried out the killings of
500.000 to one million men and women, adults as well as younger people
allegedly being members of the Indonesia Communist Party or their
peasant, labour, women and youth community organizations and even
innocent people accused of being their sympathizer because of some
personal malice or because they cared about the orphaned children of the
killed families. Those murdered were virtually all unarmed civilians. The
late general Sarwo Edhi, personally involved in these “red
drive” actions, even quoted the amount of slaughtered people as much
as three million covering the isles of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Sulawesi,
Borneo, the Mollucas and the Lesser Sunda Isles, all over the area of Indonesia
more than 30 years of the military rule of general Suharto the subject of
the genocide crime, summary executions and enforced disappearances had
been unspeakable in Indonesia
and many of these massacres have not yet been sufficiently uncovered up
till now. Yet no serious historian within Indonesia
or abroad, such as Prof. Gunnar Myrdal from Sweden,
Benedict Anderson of the USA,
Herbert Feith and Richard Tanter from Australia,
doubts that so many people were killed.
secure its power, the Suharto regime detained furthermore many
hundred-thousands of people without any judicial process, without any
clear charges, without time limit. These people were kept in
concentration camps mostly under in human conditions; many prisoners died
as a result of absence of medical care, torture during interrogations,
summary executions and of starvation. In the year 1967 the Attorney
General admitted that some 200.000 people were in detention. The climate
of fear, insecurity and mutual distrust that was created by the measures
of the regime kept every body else silenced.
victims of massacre, enforced disappearances, detention were at least
three million people, those who indirectly suffered from the despotic
policies practiced by the Suharto military regime were another ten to
fifteen million children and family (old fathers and mothers) of the
killed, disappeared or detained persons. They were usually bereaved of
every thing, yet were stigmatized as “politically unclean”
and there fore subject to several discriminative regulations decreed by
raising these crimes against humanity and the gross violations of human
rights committed and instigated by the military regime led by general
Suharto in Indoneseia some forty years ago because:
1. The criminal acts
against humanity and human rights concerning some three million people
murdered, hundreds of thousands arbitrary detained and another ten
million children, women and elderly people suffering discrimination of
their civil rights, seem to be overlooked and have not been investigated
as it should be. These crimes which have brought suffering to millions of
civilian people, for the sake of justice, should not pass away without
being properly prosecuted.
2. Children and innocent
people still have to suffer from the stigmatization and discrimination
originated by the Suharto military regime.
3. Although general Suharto
has stepped down as the President of the Indonesia
he and his cronies have not been called to account for the crimes they
one of those who experienced the arbitrariness of the military regime of
general Suharto. I was Minister for Electricity and Energy with the
legitimate government of President Sukarno when general Suharto started
his coup. I escaped an attempt of kidnapping and murder by the cohorts
that supported general Suharto. But I could not evade being put in
detention without any judicial process and without clear charges for
twelve years by the regime of general Suharto who came to power by coup
d’etat. Even when we have been put out of the camps, because of
international diplomatic intervention, and were formally given back our
full freedom, former detainees (tapol) until recently were not allowed to
move freely and up till now are subject to regulations restraining their
human rights. The most recent (new) regulation deprives us from the right
to be chosen for membership of the Parliament.
there fore urge the UN-HCHR to take notice of the crimes against humanity
and gross violations of human rights in Indonesia which were committed by
the military regime of general Suharto during their 32 years of reign
urge the UN-HCHR to decide on an investigation into this matter, since it
has not been satisfactorily solved up till now. We urge the UN-HCHR for
the sake of justice and humanity, to take appropriate steps on the basis
of the results of the investigation to put the perpetrators responsible
for their crimes.
ratifies covenants ahead of recess
Post - October 1, 2005
-- The elimination of all forms of
restrictions on freedom of expression, threats to religious freedom, forced labour and
discrimination in the workplace are new tasks for the government after
the House of Representatives finally ratified on Friday two long-awaited
United Nations covenants.
ratification of the UN 1969 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and
the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights wrapped up the
House's first one-year sitting period. The lawmakers will now go into a
three-week recess. Chairman of House Commission I on defence and foreign
affairs Theo L. Sambuaga said ratifying the covenants would commit Indonesia
to protecting the rights of its citizens to an international standard.
covenants will also serve as an important main reference for national
laws that have been or will be passed in the future, according to Theo,
although some House members said that most of the covenants' articles
were already recognized by the 1945 Constitution and other laws. The House
also approved one major additional clause to Article 1 of the Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights regarding the right of self-determination.
does not apply to any parts of a united state, and there's no parts of
the covenant that will go against the unitary state of Indonesia,"
Theo said. It took the lawmakers less than three weeks to ratify the two
covenants, a process that also involved consultation with human rights
activists and experts in international law. A bill's deliberation
normally lasts more than a month.
observers believe that the ratification was simply aimed to facilitate
the request from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) following the Aug. 18
signing of a peace accord to end almost 30 years of separatist fighting in
of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said the ratification would mean the
international community could hold Indonesia
accountable for the implementation of the two covenants.
now responsible to the international community for any violations of the
covenants. We're also obliged to write a biennial report on our
implementation of the covenants," he said. Human rights activists,
however, called the ratification half-hearted.
Kasim, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy
(ELSAM), said the ratification had excluded two optional protocols, which
were as important as other clauses in the covenant on civil and political
two excluded protocols were on the mechanism of victims of human rights
violations to individually claim for rights restoration and the
abolishment of capital punishment. "The House was so worried about
the self-determination clause, that they didn't focus on these two
protocols, which are more relevant to our situation now," said Ifdhal.
two international covenants were the latest of only 12 bills the
lawmakers managed to endorse since they took office in October last year.
The House had set a target of passing 55 bills, in line with the National
Legislation Program for 2005.
What ratification of rights covenants implies
Post - October 1, 2005
of ratification of UN Conventions on Civil and Political Rights and on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to states (selected). The state must:
1. Ensure that all
individuals can enjoy the rights recognized in the Covenant, regardless
of their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other
opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status
2. Protect the right to
life; in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, the death
sentence may be imposed only for
the most serious crimes.
3. Prohibit slavery, slave
trade in all their forms, and forced or compulsory labour.
4. Ensure that everyone has
the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to
arbitrary arrest or detention.
5. Guarantee people's
rights to liberty of movement and freedom to choose residence, freedom to
leave and enter their country.
6. Ensure equality before
the courts and tribunals.
7. Protect people's right
to freedom of expression and ideas in writing or in print, in the form of
art, or through any other media of their choice; the right to freedom of
association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions.
8. Recognize the right of
men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family.
9. Recognize the right to
work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his
living by work which he freely chooses or accepts.
10. Recognize the right of
everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which
ensure, fair and equal remuneration and opportunity of promotion to
appropriate higher level, particularly for women.
Action Against Five Presidents By Victims of 1965
(Tapol summary translation of main aspects of the legal action)
This Class Action (/SK/LBH/III/2005) has been filed by the Jakarta
Legal Aid Institute on behalf of victims who were alleged to be involved
in the G30S (30th September Movement) of 1965 consisting of twenty
million people, three million of whom were officers or members of the PKI
(Indonesian Communist Party) who were murdered and seventeen million of
whom consist of PKI sympathisers, admirers of Sukarno, and their
descendants, and others who were not officers, members, sympathisers,
children or grandchildren or otherwise associated with the above.
appellants consist of seven groups as follows:
I Persons who were forced to resign or were dismissed from employ-ment
without any formalities and thus received no wages or allowances.
Group II Persons who were deprived of their
pension rights as civil servants or members of the armed forces or the
Group III Victims of special
investigation who were said to have an unclean environment, being accused
of being PKI, with the result that they were dismissed from their jobs
and were unable to find work.
Group IV Persons whose allowances as
veterans were withdrawn.
Group V Persons whose land, buildings
or other possessions were seized, destroyed, burnt or commandeered .
Group VI Persons who were expelled
from school and were unable to continue their education because they were
accused of being involved in the G30S or of having an unclean environment.
Group VII Persons whose creative works
were hindered and who were obstructed from publishing their works and
By virtue of the similarity of the facts and the legal basis of
these 20 million persons who were discriminated against, the case is
presented as a Class Action, which has the advantage of being
straightforward, speedy and less costly.
The Class Action states that since 1965 and up to the present day,
the victims of accusations who bear the PKI stigma have not enjoyed
fulfilment, protection and respect for their rights, including their
rights to employment, to owning personal possessions, to education and
their cultural rights.
The failure to provide the appellants with their rights since 1965
which has been maintained by all the defendants up to the present day is
in direct contravention of the legal responsibilities of the defendants.
five defendants are:
· Susilo Bambang
· Megawati Sukarnoputri,
· Abdurrahman Wahid,
· B.J. Habibie,
· Suharto, ex-President.
After explaining the legal justification for pursuing this action as
a Class Action, the historical facts are presented, commencing with 28 -
30 September 1965 when troops of two Diponegoro battalions were
instructed by the commander of Kostrad (Suharto) to move. On the
following day, 1 October, several senior and middle-ranking officers were
murdered by a group calling itself the G30S. Two senior officers escaped
being murdered, Lt General Abdul Haris Nasution and Suharto.
While the motive for the murders was still unclear, President
Sukarno issued an order to Suharto to instruct all troops to remain in
their places while awaiting instructions from the President.
Suharto did not carry out the order of the President and compelled
the President to grant him powers to restore law and order. Although this
order was opposed by many, the powers were nevertheless granted to
Special powers having been vested in Suharto, the rights of the
appellants were thereupon eliminated.
Suharto became commander of Kopkamtib (Command for the Restoration
of Law and Order) on 3 October by means of the powers vested in him by
Once he became commander of Kopkamtib, the appellants lost their
rights as citizens, as a result of accusations blaming the PKI for the
G30S and orders were issued to all governmental departments to dismiss
members of the PKI as well as their children and grandchildren.
The appellants represented by Group I had no legal status after
being branded as being involved in the G30S, and having no document
regarding their status, they were not able to get work
The appellants represented by Group II suffered damages by losing
their jobs in government departments or state enterprises for alleged
involvement in the G30S and lost their jobs as civil servants or members
of the armed forces and the police. Appellants represented by Groups I
and II suffered the consequences of the actions of Suharto not just in
one province but in other provinces as well.
From the time that Suharto became commander of Kopkamtib, the
appellants represented by Group V lost their possessions, their homes and
the contents therein, which were deliberately destroyed and taken over by
persons in army uniform. The seizure of land and buildings occurred not
only in Jakarta
but throughout Java.
The appellants were then imprisoned without any legal process.
The appellants represented by Group VI were unable to complete
their education because they were imprisoned without due process.
The works and artistic creations of appellants represented by
Group VI were banned by Suharto and were they imprisoned throughout Indonesia.
From 2 - 10 October, all publications were banned by Suharto with
the exception of two newspapers published by the armed forces.
On 11 March 1966, Suharto received an order from the President of
Indonesia to take such measures as necessary to preserve security and
order and to safeguard the President. On the basis of this order, Suharto
disbanded the PKI; the order was not signed by Sukarno but by Suharto on
Using the apparatus now under his command, Suharto took increasingly
discriminatory measures against persons represented by Group I who
suffered immense damages as a result. Even those who were given written
proof that they had not been involved in the G30S were unable to get work.
On 12 March 1966, President Sukarno corrected the 11 March order
because he saw that Suharto was exceeding his powers, but this order was
ignored by the latter. The appellants represented by Group I were
imprisoned on the orders of Suharto without justification, explanation or
evidence presented in a court of law. They were accused of involvement in
the G30S and accused of endangered state security.
On 21 March 1967, Suharto was appointed Acting President without
any election being held, alleging that President Sukarno has lost the
confidence of the people. On 27 March 1968, he was confirmed as
President, which meant that the failure of the G30S to take power had
been overtaken by a seizure of power without a general election being
The Class Action then deals with further actions during the 1970s,
the 1980s and the 1990s, up until 21 May 1998 when Suharto was forced to
resign as demanded by the students whereupon the Vice President (BJ
Habibie) took over as president. After Habibie took over, he allowed the
violation of the rights of the appellants to remain in force, ignoring
their fundamental rights., which had not been protected during the rule
The first amendment to the Constitution was enacted in 1999 and on
23 September 1999, Habibie enacted Law No 39 on Basic Human Rights but
the provisions of this law have never been applied to the appellants.
On 20 October, Habibie was replaced by Abdurrahman Wahid as
President of Indonesia but as was the case with Habibie, Wahid did
nothing to restore the rights of the appellants as provided for in the
1945 Constitution and in Law No 39, 1999 on Basic Human Rights.
A second amendment to the Constitution was enacted in 2000.
On 10 March 2000, Wahid issued a presidential decree revoking president
instruction No 16, 1990 on special investigations for employees of the Republic
Even so, the basic rights of the appellants were not restored.
On 14 March 2000, Wahid, in his capacity as a member of the NU,
publicly apologized to the nation for the murder of citizens who had been
accused of involvement in the G30S.
In 2001, a further amendment of the Constitution was enacted and
on 23 July 2001, Wahid was replaced by Megawati as President.
In 2002, the appellants submitted a request to Megawati for the
restoration of their rights that had been eliminated by Suharto, but she,
like the two presidents before her, took no action, with the result that
the appellants continued to live without employment or their legitimate
On 12 June 2003, the Supreme Court wrote to the President
reminding her of the request for rehabilitation she had received from the
appellants. On 25 July, 2003, the Indonesian Parliament (DPR) wrote to
Megawati requesting her to act in response to the letter from the Supreme
Court and on 25 August 2003, the National Human Rights Commission wrote
to Megawati regarding rehabilitation for victims of the G30S/PKI, in view
of the request for rehabilitation made earlier by the Supreme Court, but
none of these requests received any response from Megawati.
On 24 February 2004, the Constitutional Court announced a decision
to endorse the results of a Judicial Review regarding Article 60 (g)
(which would now allow 1965 victims to stand for election for national
and regional assemblies) and requested the government to revise and
revoke various discriminatory regulations affecting the social, economic
and cultural rights of persons bearing the G30S stigma.
On 14 September 2004, the appellants wrote to Megawati, Habibie
and Wahid reminding them of their earlier request, but no answer has been
On 20 October, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) was sworn in as
President of Indonesia.
On 21 October 2004, the appellants sent reminders to the five
presidents . They did so again on 23 November. The only person to reply
On 10 January 2005, the appellants wrote to Wahid reminding him of
his responsibilities regarding the denial of their rights.
On 8 February 2005, the National Human Rights Commission wrote to
SBY regarding the restoration of the rights of the appellants.
However, despite the representations made by the Supreme Court,
the Indonesian Parliament and the National Human Rights Commission, the
five presidents have done nothing to fulfill the requests made by the appellants
regarding the restoration of their rights.
They therefore conclude that the presidents have deliberately
allowed the sufferings of the appellants to remain in force, year after
year and up until the moment this Class Action was filed and the appellants
continue to suffer the denial of their rights as citizens and continue to
bear the G30S/PKI stigma.
After explaining at great length how the five presidents have
acted in contravention of the law, the appellants state that the five
presidents have failed to show any goodwill in applying the provisions of
the Human Rights Law to the appellants.
They then state that each of the groups of appellants are entitled
to material compensation and specify the amounts (calculated per day, for
a period of 25 years) which each of the members of the groups of
appellants should receive.
They request the court to order President SBY to set up a team to
calculate the damages suffered by the appellants in accordance with the
specifications as stated above and to calculate the precise number of
persons represented by the appellants.
They furthermore state that considering that others in addition to
the appellants are also likely to feel the consequences of the G30S/PKI
stigma, they request SBY to immediately issue an instruction for the
repeal of all discriminatory regulations and put an end to the G30S/PKI
stigma at all levels of government, central and regional, which result in
grave discrimination against Indonesian citizens and are in contravention
of basic human rights.
[This document was submitted to the President of Indonesia on 17
December 2004 with a request for the repeal of all discriminatory
regulations and special marks on identity cards indicating that the hold
is not a former member of the banned PKI or any of its mass organizations
or was not involved either directly or indirectly in the G30S/PKI or
other banned organizations, for the restoration of their legitimate
rights as citizens.
It was also submitted to the chairman of the UN Human Rights
Commission meeting which was held in Geneva from March - April 2005 by
the Central Council of Lembaga Perjuangan Rehabilitasi Korban Rezim Orde
Baru (Institute to Struggle for Rehabilitation of Victims of the New
Order Regime) and signed by Chairman Sumaun Utomo, Head of the Advocacy
Team Mulyiono SH, and Secretary General Mudjayin.]
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Source: SiaR WEBSITE:
and the Overthrow of Soekarno, 1965-1967
this short paper on a huge and vexed subject, I discuss the U.S.
involvement in the bloody overthrow of Indonesia's
President Soekarno, 1965-67. The whole story of that ill-understood period
would transcend even the fullest possible written analysis. Much of what
happened can never be documented; and of the documentation that survives,
much is both controversial and unverifiable. The slaughter of Soekarno's
left-wing allies was a product of widespread paranoia as well as of
conspiratorial policy, and represents a tragedy beyond the intentions of
any single group or coalition. Nor is it suggested that in 1965 the only
provocations and violence came from the right-wing Indonesian military,
their contacts in the United
or (also important, but barely touched on here) their mutual contacts in
British, German and Japanese intelligence.
yet, after all this has been said, the complex and ambiguous story of the
Indonesian bloodbath is also in essence simpler and easier to believe
than the public version inspired by President Soeharto and U.S.
government sources. Their problematic claim is that in the so-called
Gestapu (Gerakan September Tigahpuluh) coup attempt of September 30, 1965
(when six senior army generals were murdered), the left attacked the
right, leading to a restoration of power, and punitive purge of the left,
by the center.1 This article argues instead that, by inducing,
or at a minimum helping to induce, the Gestapu "coup," the
right in the Indonesian Army eliminated its rivals at the army's center,
thus paving the way to a long-planned elimination of the civilian left,
and eventually to the establishment of a military dictatorship.2
Gestapu, in other words, was only the first phase of a three-phase
right-wing coup -- one which had been both publicly encouraged and
secretly assisted by U.S. spokesmen and officials.3
turning to U.S.
involvement in what the CIA itself has called "one of the worst mass
murders of the twentieth century,"4 let us recall what
actually led up to it. According to the Australian scholar Harold Crouch,
by 1965 the Indonesian Army General Staff was split into two camps. At
the center were the general staff officers appointed with, and loyal to,
the army commander General Yani, who in turn was reluctant to challenge
President Soekarno's policy of national unity in alliance with the
Indonesian Communist party, or PKI. The second group, including the
right-wing generals Nasution and Soeharto, comprised those opposed to
Yani and his Soekarnoist policies.5 All of these generals were
anti-PKI, but by 1965 the divisive issue was Soekarno.
simple (yet untold) story of Soekarno's overthrow is that in the fall of
1965 Yani and his inner circle of generals were murdered, paving the way
for a seizure of power by right-wing anti-Yani forces allied to Soeharto.
The key to this was the so-called Gestapu coup attempt which, in the name
of supporting Soekarno, in fact targeted very precisely the leading members
of the army's most loyal faction, the Yani group.6 An army
unity meeting in January 1965, between "Yani's inner circle"
and those (including Soeharto) who "had grievances of one sort or
another against Yani," lined up the victims of September 30 against
those who came to power after their murder.7
one anti-Soekarno general was targeted by Gestapu, with the obvious
exception of General Nasution.8 But by 1961 the CIA operatives
had become disillusioned with Nasution as a reliable asset, because of
his "consistent record of yielding to Soekarno on several major
counts."9 Relations between Soeharto and Nasution were
also cool, since Nasution, after investigating Soeharto on corruption
charges in 1959, had transferred him from his command.10
distortions of reality, first by Lt. Colonel Untung's statements for
Gestapu, and then by Soeharto in "putting down" Gestapu, are
mutually supporting lies.11 Untung, on October 1, announced
ambiguously that Soekarno was under Gestapu's "protection" (he
was not); also, that a CIA-backed Council of Generals had planned a coup
for before October 5, and had for this purpose brought "troops from
East, Central, and West Java" to Jakarta.12 Troops from
these areas had indeed been brought to Jakarta for an Armed Forces Day
parade on October 5th. Untung did not mention, however, that "he
himself had been involved in the planning for the Armed Forces Day parade
and in selecting the units to participate in it;"13 nor
that these units (which included his own former battalion, the 454th)
supplied most of the allies for his new battalion's Gestapu activities in
first two broadcasts reaffirmed the army's constant loyalty to "Bung
Karno the Great Leader," and also blamed the deaths of six generals
on PKI youth and women, plus "elements of the Air Force" -- on
no other evidence than the site of the well where the corpses were found.14
At this time he knew very well that the killings had in fact been carried
out by the very army elements Untung referred to, elements under
Soeharto's own command.15
whatever the motivation of individuals such as Untung in the Gestapu
putsch, Gestapu as such was duplicitous. Both its rhetoric and above all
its actions were not simply inept; they were carefully designed to
prepare for Soeharto's equally duplicitous response. For example,
Gestapu's decision to guard all sides of the downtown Merdeka Square in
Jakarta, except that on which Soeharto's KOSTRAD [Army Strategic Reserve
Command] headquarters were situated, is consistent with Gestapu's
decision to target the only army generals who might have challenged
Soeharto's assumption of power. Again, Gestapu's announced transfer of
power to a totally fictitious "Revolutionary Council," from
which Soekarno had been excluded, allowed Soeharto in turn to masquerade
as Soekarno's defender while in fact preventing him from resuming
control. More importantly, Gestapu's gratuitous murder of the generals
near the air force base where PKI youth had been trained allowed Soeharto,
in a Goebbels-like manoeuvre, to transfer the blame for the killings from
the troops under his own command (whom he knew had carried out the
kidnappings) to air force and PKI personnel who where ignorant of them.16
the pro-Soeharto sources -- notably the CIA study of Gestapu published in
1968 -- we learn how few troops were involved in the alleged Gestapu
rebellion, and, more importantly, that in Jakarta
as in Central Java
the same battalions that supplied the "rebellious" companies
were also used to "put the rebellion down." Two thirds of one
paratroop brigade (which Soeharto had inspected the previous day) plus
one company and one platoon constituted the whole of Gestapu forces in
Jakarta; all but one of these units were commanded by present or former
Diponegoro Division officers close to Soeharto; and the last was under an
officer who obeyed Soeharto's close political ally, Basuki Rachmat.17
these companies, from the 454th and 530th battalions, were elite raiders,
and from 1962 these units had been among the main Indonesian recipients
assistance.18 This fact, which in itself proves nothing,
increases our curiosity about the many Gestapu leaders who had been
U.S.-trained. The Gestapu leader in Central Java, Saherman, had returned
from training at Fort
and Okinawa, shortly before meeting with Untung and Major Sukirno of the
454th Battalion in mid-August 1965.19 As Ruth McVey has
observed, Saherman's acceptance for training at Fort
"would mean that he had passed review by CIA observers."20
there is continuity between the achievements of both Gestapu and the
response to it by Soeharto, who in the name of defending Soekarno and
attacking Gestapu continued its task of eliminating the pro-Yani members
of the Army General Staff, along with such other residual elements of
support for first Yani and then Soekarno as remained.21
biggest part of this task was of course the elimination of the PKI and
its supporters, in a bloodbath which, as some Soeharto allies now
concede, may have taken more than a half-million lives. These three
events -- Gestapu, Soeharto's response, and the bloodbath -- have nearly
always been presented in this country as separately motivated: Gestapu
being described as a plot by leftists, and the bloodbath as for the most
part an irrational act of popular frenzy.
officials, journalists and scholars, some with rather prominent CIA
connections, are perhaps principally responsible for the myth that the
bloodbath was a spontaneous, popular revulsion to what U.S. Ambassador
Jones later called PKI "carnage."22 Although the PKI
certainly contributed its share to the political hysteria of 1965, Crouch
has shown that subsequent claims of a PKI terror campaign were grossly
exaggerated.23 In fact systematic killing occurred under army
instigation in staggered stages, the worst occurring as Colonel Sarwo
Edhie's RPKAD [Army Paracommando Regiment] moved from Jakarta to Central
and East Java, and finally to Bali.24 Civilians involved in
the massacre were either recruited and trained by the army on the spot,
or were drawn from groups (such as the army- and CIA-sponsored SOKSI
trade unions [Central Organization of Indonesian Socialist Employees],
and allied student organizations) which had collaborated for years with
the army on political matters. It is clear from Sundhaussen's account
that in most of the first areas of organized massacre (North Sumatra,
Aceh, Cirebon, the whole of Central and East Java), there were local army
commanders with especially strong and proven anti-PKI sentiments. Many of
these had for years cooperated with civilians, through so-called
"civic action" programs sponsored by the United
in operations directed against the PKI and sometimes Soekarno. Thus one
can legitimately suspect conspiracy in the fact that anti-PKI
"civilian responses" began on October 1, when the army began
handing out arms to Muslim students and unionists, before there was any
publicly available evidence linking Gestapu to the PKI.25
Sundhaussen, who downplays the army's role in arming and inciting the
civilian murder bands, concludes that, whatever the strength of popular
anti-PKI hatred and fear, "without the Army's anti-PKI propaganda
the massacre might not have happened."26 The present
article goes further and argues that Gestapu, Soeharto's response, and
the bloodbath were part of a single coherent scenario for a military
takeover, a scenario which was again followed closely in Chile in the
years 1970-73 (and to some extent in Cambodia in 1970).
of course, would be a principal conspirator in this scenario: his
duplicitous role of posing as a defender of the constitutional status
quo, while in fact moving deliberately to overthrow it, is analogous to
that of General Pinochet in Chile.
But a more direct role in organizing the bloodbath was played by
civilians and officers close to the cadres of the CIA's failed rebellion
of 1958, now working in so-called "civic action" programs
funded and trained by the United
Necessary ingredients of the scenario had to be, and clearly were,
supplied by other nations in support of Soeharto. Many such countries
appear to have played such a supporting role: Japan,
But I wish to focus on the encouragement and support for military
"putschism" and mass murder which came from the U.S.,
from the CIA, the military, RAND,
the Ford Foundation, and individuals.28
States and the Indonesian
seems clear that from as early as 1953 the U.S. was interested in helping
to foment the regional crisis in Indonesia, usually recognized as the
"immediate cause" that induced Soekarno, on March 14, 1957, to
proclaim martial law, and bring "the officer corps legitimately into
1953 (if not earlier) the U.S. National Security Council had already
adopted one of a series of policy documents calling for "appropriate
action, in collaboration with other friendly countries, to prevent
permanent communist control" of Indonesia.30 Already NSC
171/1 of that year envisaged military training as a means of increasing
U.S. influence, even though the CIA's primary efforts were directed
towards right-wing political parties ("moderates ... on the
right," as NSC 171 called them): notably the Masjumi Muslim and the
PSI "Socialist" parties. The millions of dollars which the CIA
poured into the Masjumi and the PSI in the mid-1950s were a factor
influencing the events of 1965, when a former PSI member -- Sjam -- was
the alleged mastermind of Gestapu,31 and PSI-leaning officers
-- notably Suwarto and Sarwo Edhie -- were prominent in planning and
carrying out the anti-PKI response to Gestapu.32
1957-58, the CIA infiltrated arms and personnel in support of the
regional rebellions against Soekarno. These operations were nominally
covert, even though an American plane and pilot were captured, and the
CIA efforts were accompanied by an offshore task force of the U.S.
Seventh Fleet.33 In 1975 a Senate Select Committee studying
the CIA discovered what it called "some evidence of CIA involvement
in plans to assassinate President Soekarno"; but, after an initial
investigation of the November 1957 assassination attempt in the Cikini
district of Jakarta, the committee did not pursue the matter.34
August 1, 1958, after the failure of the CIA-sponsored PRRI-Permesta
regional rebellions against Soekarno, the U.S. began an upgraded military
assistance program to Indonesia in the order of twenty million dollars a
year.35 A U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff memo of 1958 makes it clear
this aid was given to the Indonesian Army ("the only non-Communist
force ... with the capability of obstructing the ... PKI") as
"encouragement" to Nasution to "carry out his 'plan' for
the control of Commu-nism."36
had no need to spell out Nasution's "plan," to which other
documents at this time made reference.37 It could only imply
the tactics for which Nasution had distinguished himself (in American
eyes) during the crushing of the PKI in the Madiun Affair of 1948: mass
murders and mass arrests, at a minimum of the party's cadres, possibly
after an army provocation.38 Nasution confirmed this in
November 1965, after the Gestapu slaughter, when he called for the total
extinction of the PKI, "down to its very roots so there will be no
1958, however, the PKI had emerged as the largest mass movement in the
country. It is in this period that a small group of U.S. academic
researchers in U.S. Air Force- and CIA-subsidized "think-tanks"
began pressuring their contacts in the Indonesian military publicly,
often through U.S. scholarly journals and presses, to seize power and
liquidate the PKI opposition.40 The most prominent example is
Guy Pauker, who in 1958 both taught at the University of California at
Berkeley and served as a consultant at the RAND Corporation. In the
latter capacity he maintained frequent contact with what he himself
called "a very small group" of PSI intellectuals and their
friends in the army.41
In a RAND
Corporation book published by the Princeton University Press, Pauker
urged his contacts in the Indonesian military to assume "full
responsibility" for their nation's leadership, "fulfill a
mission," and hence "to strike, sweep their house clean."42
Although Pauker may not have intended anything like the scale of
bloodbath which eventually ensued, there is no escaping the fact that
"mission" and "sweep clean" were buzz-words for
counterinsurgency and massacre, and as such were used frequently before
and during the coup. The first murder order, by military officers to
Muslim students in early october, was the word sikat, meaning
"sweep," "clean out," "wipe out," or
closest friend in the Indonesian army was a U.S.-trained General Suwarto,
who played an important part in the conversion of the army from a
revolutionary to a counterinsurgency function. In the years after 1958,
Suwarto built the Indonesian Army Staff and Command
in Bandung (SESKOAD) into a training-ground for the takeover of political
power. SESKOAD in this period became a focal-point of attention from the
Pentagon, the CIA, RAND, and (indirectly) the Ford Foundation.44
the guidance of Nasution and Suwarto, SESKOAD developed a new strategic
doctrine, that of Territorial Warfare (in a document translated into
English by Pauker), which gave priority to counterinsurgency as the
army's role. Especially after 1962, when the Kennedy administration aided
the Indonesian Army in developing Civic Mission or "civic action"
programs, this meant the organization of its own political
infrastructure, or "Territorial Organization," reaching in some
cases down to the village level.45 As the result of an
official U.S. State Department recommendation in 1962, which Pauker
helped write, a special U.S. MILTAG (Military Training Advisory Group)
was set up in Jakarta, to assist in the implementation of SESKOAD's Civic
also trained the army officers in economics and administration, and thus
to operate virtually as a para-state, independent of Soekarno's
government. So the army began to collaborate, and even sign contracts,
and other foreign corporations in areas which were now under its control.
This training program was entrusted to officers and civilians close to
the PSI.47 U.S. officials have confirmed that the civilians,
who themselves were in a training program funded by the Ford Foundation,
became involved in what the (then) U.S. military attache called
"contingency planning" to prevent a PKI takeover.48
the most significant focus of U.S. training and aid was the Territorial
Organi-zation's increasing liaison with "the civilian
administration, religious and cultural organizations, youth groups,
veterans, trade unions, peasant organizations, political parties and
groups at regional and local levels."49 These political
liaisons with civilian groups provided the structure for the ruthless
suppression of the PKI in 1965, including the bloodbath.50
these army and civilian cadres were together plotting disruptive
activities, such as the Bandung
anti-Chinese riots of May 1963, which embarrassed not just the PKI, but
Soekarno himself. Chomsky and Herman report that "Army-inspired
anti-Chinese programs that took place in West Java in 1959 were financed
by U.S. contributions to the local army commander"; apparently CIA
funds were used by the commander (Colonel Kosasih) to pay local thugs in
what Mozingo calls "the army's (and probably the Americans')
campaign to rupture relations with China."51 The 1963
riot, which took place in the very shadow of SESKOAD, is linked by
Sundhaussen to an army "civic action" organization; and shows
conspiratorial contact between elements (an underground PSI cell, PSI-
and Masjumi-affiliated student groups, and General Ishak Djuarsa of the
Siliwangi Division's "civic action" organization) that would
all be prominent in the very first phase of Soeharto's so-called
"response" to the Gestapu.52 The May 1963 student
riots were repeated in October 1965 and (especially in Bandung) January
1966, at which time the liaison between students and the army was largely
in the hands of PSI-leaning officers like Sarwo Edhie and Kemal Idris.53
The CIA Plans Directorate was sympathetic to the increasing deflection of
a nominally anti-PKI operation into one embarrassing Soekarno. This turn
would have come as no surprise: Suwarto, Kemal Idris and the PSI had been
prominent in a near-coup (the so-called "Lubis affair") in
increasingly Suwarto cultivated a new student, Colonel Soeharto, who
arrived at SESKOAD in October 1959. According to Sundhaussen, a
relatively pro-Soeharto scholar: "In the early 1960s Soeharto was
involved in the formation of the Doctrine of Territorial Warfare and the
Army's policy on Civic Mission (that is, penetration of army officers
into all fields of government activities and responsibilities).55
Central to the public image of Gestapu and Soeharto's response is the
much-publicized fact that Soeharto, unlike his sometime teacher Suwarto,
and his long-time chief of staff Achmad Wiranatakusuma, had never studied
in the United States. But his involve-ment in Civic Mission (or what
Americans called "civic action") programs located him along
with PSI-leaning officers at the focal point of U.S. training activities
in Indonesia, in a program which was nakedly political.56
refinement of Territorial Warfare and Civic Mission Doctrine into a new
strategic doctrine for army political intervention became by 1965 the
ideological process consolidating the army for political takeover. After
Gestapu, when Suwarto was an important political advisor to his former
SESKOAD pupil Soeharto, his strategic doctrine was the justification for
Soeharto's announcement on August 15, 1966, in fulfillment of Pauker's
public and private urgings, that the army had to assume a leading role in
the army unity meeting of January 1965, arranged after Soeharto had
duplicitously urged Nasution to take "a more accommodating
line"58 towards Soekarno, was in fact a necessary step in
the process whereby Soeharto effectively took over from his rivals Yani
and Nasution. It led to the April 1965 seminar at SESKOAD for a
compromise army strategic doctrine, the Tri Ubaya Cakti, which
"reaffirmed the army's claim to an independent political role."59
On August 15, 1966, Soeharto, speaking to the nation, justified his
increasing prominence in terms of the "Revolutionary Mission"
of the Tri Ubaya Cakti doctrine. Two weeks later at SES-KOAD the doctrine
was revised, at Soeharto's instigation but in a setting "carefully
orchestrated by Brigadier Suwarto," to embody still more clearly
Pauker's emphasis on the army's "Civic Mission" or
counterrevolutionary role.60 This "Civic Mission,"
so important to Soeharto, was also the principal goal and fruit of U.S.
military aid to Indonesia.
August 1964, moreover, Soeharto had initiated political contacts with
Malaysia, and hence eventually with Japan, Britain, and the United
States.61 Although the initial purpose of these contacts may
have been to head off war with Malaysia, Sundhaussen suggests that
Soeharto's motive was his concern, buttressed in mid-1964 by a KOSTRAD
intelligence report, about PKI political advances.62 Mrazek
links the peace feelers to the withdrawal of "some of the best army
units" back to Java in the summer of 1965.63 These
movements, together with earlier deployment of a politically insecure
Diponegoro battalion in the other direction, can also be seen as
preparations for the seizure of power.64
informed Japanese account, former PRRI / Permesta personnel with
intelligence connections in Japan
were prominent in these negotiations, along with Japanese officials.65
Nishihara also heard that an intimate ally of these personnel, Jan
Walandouw, who may have acted as a CIA contact for the 1958 rebellion,
later again "visited Washington
and advocated Soeharto as a leader."66 I am reliably
informed that Walandouw's visit to Washington
on behalf of Soeharto was made some months before Gestapu.67
Moves Against Soekarno
people in Washington, especially in the CIA Plans Directorate, had long
desired the "removal" of Soekarno as well as of the PKI.68
By 1961 key policy hard-liners, notably Guy Pauker, had also turned
against Nasution.69 Nevertheless, despite last-minute
memoranda from the outgoing Eisenhower administration which would have
opposed "whatever regime" in Indonesia was "increasingly
friendly toward the Sino-Soviet bloc," the Kennedy administration
stepped up aid to both Soekarno and the army.70
Lyndon Johnson's accession to the presidency was followed almost
immediately by a shift to a more anti-Soekarno policy. This is clear from
Johnson's decision in December 1963 to withhold economic aid which
(according to Ambassador Jones) Kennedy would have supplied "almost
as a matter of routine."71 This refusal suggests that the
aggravation of Indonesia's
economic woes in 1963-65 was a matter of policy rather than inadvertence.
Indeed, if the CIA's overthrow of Allende is a relevant analogy, then one
would expect someday to learn that the CIA, through currency speculations
and other hostile acts, contributed actively to the radical
destabilization of the Indonesian economy in the weeks just before the
coup, when "the price of rice quadrupled between June 30 and October
1, and the black market price of the dollar skyrocketed, particularly in
the case in Chile, the gradual cutoff of all economic aid to Indonesia in
the years 1962-65 was accompanied by a shift in military aid to friendly
elements in the Indonesian Army: U.S. military aid amounted to $39.5
million in the four years 1962-65 (with a peak of $16.3 million in 1962)
as opposed to $28.3 million for the thirteen years 1949-61.73
After March 1964, when Soekarno told the U.S., "go to hell with your
aid," it became increasingly difficult to extract any aid from the
U.S. congress: those persons not aware of what was developing found it
hard to understand why the U.S. should help arm a country which was
nationalizing U.S. economic interests, and using immense aid subsidies
from the Soviet Union to confront the British in Malaysia.
public image was created that under Johnson "all United States aid
to Indonesia was stopped," a claim so buttressed by misleading
documentation that competent scholars have repeated it.74 In
fact, Congress had agreed to treat U.S. funding of the Indonesian
military (unlike aid to any other country) as a covert matter,
restricting congressional review of the president's determinations on
Indonesian aid to two Senate committees, and the House Speaker, who were
concurrently involved in oversight of the CIA.75
Jones' more candid account admits that "suspension" meant
government undertook no new commitments of assistance, although it
continued with ongoing programs.... By maintaining our modest assistance
to [the Indonesian Army and the police brigade], we fortified them for a
virtually inevitable showdown with the burgeoning PKI."76
from recently released documents do we learn that new military aid was en
route as late as July 1965, in the form of a secret contract to deliver
two hundred Aero-Commanders to the Indonesian Army: these were light
aircraft suitable for use in "civic action" or counterinsurgency
operations, presumably by the Army Flying Corps whose senior officers
were virtually all trained in the U.S.77 By this time, the
publicly admitted U.S. aid was virtually limited to the completion of an
army communications system and to "civic action" training. It
was by using the army's new communications system, rather than the
civilian system in the hands of Soekarno loyalists, that Soeharto on
October 1, 1965 was able to implement his swift purge of Soekarno-Yani
loyalists and leftists, while "civic action" officers formed
the hard core of lower-level Gestapu officers in Central Java.78
turning to the more covert aspects of U.S.
military aid to Indonesia
in 1963-65, let us review the overall changes in U.S.-Indonesian
relations. Economic aid was now in abeyance, and military aid tightly
channeled so as to strengthen the army domestically. U.S.
government funding had obviously shifted from the Indonesian state to one
of its least loyal components. As a result of agreements beginning with martial
law in 1957, but accelerated by the U.S.-negotiated oil agreement of
1963, we see exactly the same shift in the flow of payments from U.S.
oil companies. Instead of token royalties to the Soekarno government, the
two big U.S. oil companies in Indonesia, Stanvac and Caltex, now made
much larger payments to the army's oil company, Permina, headed by an
eventual political ally of Soeharto, General Ibnu Sutowo; and to a second
company, Pertamin, headed by the anti-PKI and pro-U.S. politician,
Chaerul Saleh.79 After Soeharto's overthrow of Soekarno, Fortune
wrote that "Sutowo's still small company played a key part in
bankrolling those crucial operations, and the army has never forgotten
Support for the Soeharto Faction Before Gestapu
officials commenting on the role of U.S.
aid in this period have taken credit for assisting the anti-Communist
seizure of power, without ever hinting at any degree of conspiratorial
responsibility in the planning of the bloodbath. The impression created is
officials remained aloof from the actual planning of events, and we can
see from recently declassified cable traffic how carefully the U.S.
government fostered this image of detachment from what was happening in
fact, however, the U.S.
government was lying about its involvement. In Fiscal Year 1965, a period
when The New York Times claimed "all United States aid to
Indonesia was stopped," the number of MAP (Military Assistance
Program) personnel in Jakarta actually increased, beyond what had been
projected, to an unprecedented high.82 According to figures
released in 1966,83 from FY 1963 to FY 1965 the value of MAP
deliveries fell from about fourteen million dollars to just over two
million dollars. Despite this decline, the number of MAP military
personnel remained almost unchanged, approximately thirty, while in FY
1965 civilian personnel (fifteen) were present for the first time.
Whether or not one doubts that aid deliveries fell off as sharply as the
figures would suggest, the MILTAG personnel figures indicate that their
"civic action" program was being escalated, not decreased.84
We have seen that some months before Gestapu, a Soeharto emissary with
past CIA connections (Colonel Jan Walandouw) made contact with the U.S.
government. From as early as May 1965, U.S. military suppliers with CIA
connections (principally Lockheed) were negotiating equipment sales with
payoffs to middlemen, in such a way as to generate payoffs to backers of
the hitherto little-known leader of a new third faction in the army,
Major-General Soeharto -- rather than to those backing Nasution or Yani,
the titular leaders of the armed forces. Only in the last year has it
been confirmed that secret funds administered by the U.S. Air Force
(possibly on behalf of the CIA) were laundered as "commissions"
on sales of Lockheed equipment and services, in order to make political
payoffs to the military personnel of foreign countries.85
Senate investigation into these payoffs revealed, almost inadvertently, that
in May 1965, over the legal objections of Lockheed's counsel, Lockheed
commissions in Indonesia had been redirected to a new contract and
company set up by the firm's long-time local agent or middleman.86
Its internal memos at the time show no reasons for the change, but in a
later memo the economic counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta is
reported as saying that there were "some political considerations
behind it."87 If this is true, it would suggest that in
May 1965, five months before the coup, Lockheed had redirected its
payoffs to a new political eminence, at the risk (as its assistant chief
counsel pointed out) of being sued for default on its former contractual
Indonesian middleman, August Munir Dasaad, was "known to have
assisted Soekarno financially since the 1930's."88 In
1965, however, Dasaad was building connections with the Soeharto forces,
via a family relative, General Alamsjah, who had served briefly under
Soeharto in 1960, after Soeharto completed his term at SESKOAD. Via the
new contract, Lockheed, Dasaad and Alamsjah were apparently hitching
their wagons to Soeharto's rising star:
the coup was made during which Soeharto replaced Soekarno, Alamsjah, who
controlled certain considerable funds, at once made these available to
Soeharto, which obviously earned him the gratitude of the new President.
In due course he was appointed to a position of trust and confidence and
today Alamsjah is, one might say, the second important man after the
in 1966 the U.S. Embassy advised Lockheed it should "continue to
use" the Dasaad-Alamsjah-Soeharto connection.90
July 1965, at the alleged nadir of U.S.-Indonesian aid relations, Rockwell-Standard
had a contractual agreement to deliver two hundred light aircraft
(Aero-Commanders) to the Indonesian Army (not the Air Force) in the next
two months.91 Once again the commission agent on the deal, Bob
Hasan, was a political associate (and eventual business partner) of
Soeharto.92 More specifically, Soeharto and Bob Hasan
established two shipping companies to be operated by the Central Java
army division, Diponegoro. This division, as has long been noticed,
supplied the bulk of the personnel on both sides of the Gestapu coup
drama -- both those staging the coup attempt, and those putting it down.
And one of the three leaders in the Central Java Gestapu movement was Lt.
Col. Usman Sastrodibroto, chief of the Diponegoro Division's "section
dealing with extramilitary functions."93
of the two known U.S. military sales contracts from the eve of the
Gestapu Putsch, both involved political payoffs to persons who emerged
after Gestapu as close Soeharto allies. The use of this traditional channel
for CIA patronage suggests that the U.S. was not at arm's length from the
ugly political developments of 1965, despite the public indications, from
both government spokesmen and the U.S. business press, that Indonesia was
now virtually lost to communism and nothing could be done about it.
actions of some U.S.
corporations, moreover, made it clear that by early 1965 they expected a
significant boost to the U.S.
standing in Indonesia.
For example, a recently declassified cable reveals that Freeport Sulphur
had by April 1965 reached a preliminary "arrangement" with
Indonesian officials for what would become a $500 million investment in West
Papua copper. This gives the lie to the public
claim that the company did not initiate negotiations with Indonesians
(the inevitable Ibnu Sutowo) until February 1966.94 And in
September 1965, shortly after World Oil reported that
"indonesia's gas and oil industry appeared to be slipping deeper
into the political morass,"95 the president of a small
oil company (Asamera) in a joint venture with Ibnu Sutowo's Permina
purchased $50,000 worth of shares in his own ostensibly-threatened
company. Ironically this double purchase (on September 9 and September
21) was reported in the Wall Street Journal of September 30, 1965,
the day of Gestapu.
CIA's "[One Word Deleted] Operation" in 1965
than a year after Gestapu and the bloodbath, James Reston wrote
appreciatively about them as "A Gleam of Light in Asia": Washington is being careful not to
claim any credit for this change in the sixth most populous and one of
the richest nations in the world, but this does not mean that Washington
had nothing to do with it. There was a great deal more contact between
the anti-Communist forces in that country and at least one very high
official in Washington
before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized.96
the CIA in 1965, we have the testimony of former CIA officer Ralph
McGehee, curiously corroborated by the selective censorship of his former
the necessary circumstances or proofs are lacking to support U.S.
intervention, the C.I.A. creates the appropriate situations or else
invents them and disseminates its distortions worldwide via its media
operations. A prominent example would be Chile....
Disturbed at the Chilean military's unwillingness to take action against
Allende, the C.I.A. forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot
to murder Chilean military leaders. The discovery of this
"plot" was headlined in the media and Allende was deposed and
is a similarity between events that precipitated the overthrow of Allende
and what happened in Indonesia
in 1965. Estimates of the number of deaths that occurred as a result of
the latter C.I.A. [one word deleted] operation run from one-half
million to more than one million people.97
claims to have once seen, while reviewing CIA documents in Washington,
a highly classified report on the agency's role in provoking the
destruction of the PKI after Gestapu. It seems appropriate to ask for
congressional review and publication of any such report. If, as is
alleged, it recommended such murderous techniques as a model for future
operations, it would appear to document a major turning-point in the
agency's operation history: towards the systematic exploitation of the
death squad operations which, absent during the Brazilian coup of 1964,
made the Vietnam Phoenix counterinsurgency program notorious after 1967,
and after 1968 spread from Guatemala to the rest of Latin America.98
claims of a CIA psychological warfare operation against Allende are
corroborated by Tad Szulc: CIA
agents in Santiago
assisted Chilean military intelli-gence in drafting bogus Z-plan
documents alleging that Allende and his supporters were planning to
behead Chilean military commanders. These were issued by the junta to
justify the coup.99
the CIA deception operations against Allende appear to have gone even
farther, terrifying both the left and the right with the fear of
incipient slaughter by their enemies. Thus militant trade-unionists as
well as conservative generals in Chile received small cards printed with
the ominous words Djakarta se acerca (Jakarta is approaching).100
is a model destabilization plan -- to persuade all concerned that they no
longer can hope to be protected by the status quo, and hence weaken the
center, while inducing both right and left towards more violent
provocation of each other. Such a plan appears to have been followed in Laos
in 1959-61, where a CIA officer explained to a reporter that the aim
"was to polarize Laos."101
It appears to have been followed in Indonesia
in 1965. Observers like Sundhaussen confirm that to understand the coup
story of October 1965 we must look first of all at the "rumour
market" which in 1965 ... turned out the wildest stories."102
On September 14, two weeks before the coup, the army was warned that
there was a plot to assassinate army leaders four days later; a second
such report was discussed at army headquarters on September 30.103
But a year earlier an alleged PKI document, which the PKI denounced as a
forgery, had purported to describe a plan to overthrow
"Nasutionists" through infiltration of the army. This
"document," which was reported in a Malaysian newspaper after
being publicized by the pro-U.S. politician Chaerul Saleh104
in mid-December 1964, must have lent credence to Soeharto's call for an
army unity meeting the next month.105
army's anxiety was increased by rumors, throughout 1965, that mainland China
was smuggling arms to the PKI for an imminent revolt. Two weeks before
Gestapu, a story to this effect also appeared in a Malaysian newspaper,
citing Bangkok sources which relied in turn on Hong Kong sources.106
Such international untraceability is the stylistic hallmark of stories
emanating in this period from what CIA insiders called their "mighty
Wurlitzer," the world-wide network of press "assets"
through which the CIA, or sister agencies such as Britain's MI-6, could
plant unattributable disinformation.107 PKI demands for a
popular militia or "fifth force," and the training of PKI youth
at Lubang Buaja, seemed much more sinister to the Indonesian army in the
light of the Chinese arms stories.
for months before the coup, the paranoia of the PKI had also been played
on, by recurring reports that a CIA-backed "Council of
Generals" was plotting to suppress the PKI. It was this mythical
council, of course, that Untung announced as the target of his allegedly
anti-CIA Gestapu coup. But such rumors did not just originate from
anti-American sources; on the contrary, the first authoritative published
reference to such a council was in a column of the Washington
journalists Evans and Novak:
back as March, General Ibrahim Adjie, commander of the Siliwangi
Division, had been quoted by two American journalists as saying of the
Communists: "we knocked them out before [at Madiun]. We check them
and check them again." The same journalists claimed to have
information that "...the Army has quietly established an advisory
commission of five general officers to report to General Jani ... and
General Nasution ... on PKI activities."108
sees the coincidence that five generals besides Yani were killed by
Gestapu as possibly significant.
should also be struck by the revival in the United States of the image of
Yani and Nasution as anti-PKI planners, long after the CIA and U.S. press
stories had in fact written them off as unwilling to act against
Soekarno.109 If the elimination by Gestapu of Soeharto's
political competitors in the army was to be blamed on the left, then the
scenario required just such a revival of the generals' forgotten
anti-Communist image in opposition to Soekarno. An anomalous unsigned
August 1965 profile of Nasution in The New York Times, based on an
1963 interview but published only after a verbal attack by Nasution on
British bases in Singapore, does just this: it claims (quite
incongruously, given the context) that Nasution is "considered the
strongest opponent of Communism in Indonesia"; and adds that
Soekarno, backed by the PKI, "has been pursuing a campaign to
neutralize the ... army as an anti-Communist force."110
same month of August 1965, fear of an imminent showdown between "the
PKI and the Nasution group" was fomented in Indonesia
by an underground pamphlet; this was distributed by the CIA's long-time
asset, the PSI, whose cadres were by now deeply involved:
PKI is combat ready. The Nasution group hope the PKI will be the first to
draw the trigger, but this the PKI will not do. The PKI will not allow
itself to be provoked as in the Madiun Incident. In the end, however,
there will be only two forces left: the PKI and the Nasution group. The
middle will have no alternative but to choose and get protection from the
could hardly hope to find a better epitome of the propaganda necessary
for the CIA's program of engineering paranoia. McGehee's article, after
censorship by the CIA, focuses more narrowly on the CIA's role in
anti-PKI propaganda alone:
Agency seized upon this opportunity [Soeharto's response to Gestapu] and
set out to destroy the P.K.I.... [eight sentences deleted]....
Media fabrications played a key role in stirring up popular resentment
against the P.K.I. Photographs of the bodies of the dead generals --
badly decomposed -- were featured in all the newspapers and on
television. Stories accompanying the pictures falsely claimed that the
generals had been castrated and their eyes gouged out by Communist women.
This cynically manufactured campaign was designed to foment public anger
against the Communists and set the stage for a massacre.112
might have added that the propaganda stories of torture by hysterical
women with razor blades, which serious scholars dismiss as groundless,
were revived in a more sophisticated version by a U.S.
journalist, John Hughes, who is now the chief spokesman for the State
forces, particularly Col. Sarwo Edhie of the RPKAD commandos, were
overtly involved in the cynical exploitation of the victims' bodies.114
But some aspects of the massive propaganda campaign appear to have been
orchestrated by non-Indonesians. A case in point is the disputed
editorial in support of Gestapu which appeared in the October 2 issue of the
PKI newspaper Harian Rakjat. Professors Benedict Anderson and Ruth
McVey, who have questioned the authenticity of this issue, have also
ruled out the possibility that the newspaper was "an Army
falsification," on the grounds that the army's "competence ...
at falsifying party documents has always been abysmally low."115
questions raised by Anderson and McVey have not yet been adequately
answered. Why did the PKI show no support for the Gestapu coup while it
was in progress, then rashly editorialize in support of Gestapu after it
had been crushed? Why did the PKI, whose editorial gave support to
Gestapu, fail to mobilize its followers to act on Gestapu's behalf? Why
did Soeharto, by then in control of Jakarta, close down all newspapers
except this one, and one other left-leaning newspaper which also served
his propaganda ends?116 Why, in other words, did Soeharto on
October 2 allow the publication of only two Jakarta newspapers, two which
were on the point of being closed down forever?
stated at the outset, it would be foolish to suggest that in 1965 the
only violence came from the U.S.
government, the Indonesian military, and their mutual contacts in British
and Japanese intelligence. A longer paper could also discuss the
provocative actions of the PKI, and of Soekarno himself, in this tragedy
of social breakdown. Assuredly, from one point of view, no one was
securely in control of events in this troubled period.117 And
yet for two reasons such a fashionably objective summation of events
seems inappropriate. In the first place, as the CIA's own study concedes,
we are talking about "one of the ghastliest and most concentrated
bloodlettings of current times," one whose scale of violence seems
out of all proportion to such well-publicized left-wing acts as the
murder of an army lieutenant at the Bandar Betsy plantation in May 1965,118
And, in the second place, the scenario described by McGehee for 1965 can
be seen as not merely responding to the provocations, paranoia, and sheer
noise of events in that year, but as actively encouraging and channeling
should be noted that former CIA Director William Colby has repeatedly
denied that there was CIA or other U.S.
involvement in the massacre of 1965. (In the absence of a special CIA
Task Force, Colby, as head of the CIA's Far Eastern Division from
1962-66, would normally have been responsible for the CIA's operations in
Indonesia.) Colby's denial is however linked to the discredited story of
a PKI plot to seize political power, a story that he revived in 1978:
exploded, with a bid for power by the largest Communist Party in the
world outside the curtain, which killed the leadership of the army with
Soekarno's tacit approval and then was decimated in reprisal. CIA
provided a steady flow of reports on the process in Indonesia,
although it did not have any role in the course of events themselves.119
important to resolve the issue of U.S.
involvement in this systematic murder operation, and particularly to
learn more about the CIA account of this which McGehee claims to have
seen. McGehee tells us: "The Agency was extremely proud of its
successful [one word deleted] and recommended it as a model for
future operations [one-half sentence deleted]."120
Ambassador Green reports of an interview with Nixon in 1967:
Indonesian experience had been one of particular interest to [Nixon]
because things had gone well in Indonesia.
I think he was very interested in that whole experience as pointing to
the way we [!] should handle our relationships on a wider basis in Southeast
Asia generally, and maybe in the world.121
unchallenged assessments help explain the role of Indonesians in the
Nixon-sponsored overthrow of Sihanouk in Cambodia in 1970, the use of the
Jakarta scenario for the overthrow of Allende in Chile in 1973, and the
U.S. sponsorship today of the death squad regimes in Central America.122
University of California,
1. The difficulties of
this analysis, based chiefly on the so-called "evidence"
presented at the Mahmilub trials, will be obvious to anyone who has tried
to reconcile the conflicting accounts of Gestapu in, e.g., the official
Soeharto account by Nugroho Notosusanto and Ismail Saleh, and the
somewhat less fanciful CIA study of 1968, both referred to later. I shall
draw only on those parts of the Mahmilub evidence which limit or
discredit their anti-PKI thesis. For interpretation of the Mahmilub data,
cf. especially Coen Holtzappel, "The 30 September Movement," Journal
of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 (1979), pp. 216-40. The case for general
skepticism is argued by Rex Mortimer, Indonesian Communism Under
Soekarno (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1974), pp.
421-3; and more forcefully, by Julie Southwood and Patrick Flanagan, Indonesia:
Law, Propaganda, and Terror (London: Zed Press, 1983), pp. 126-34.
2. At his long-delayed
trial in 1978, Gestapu plotter Latief confirmed earlier revelations that
he had visited his old commander Soeharto on the eve of the Gestapu
kidnappings. He claimed that he raised with Soeharto the existence of an
alleged right-wing "Council of Generals" plotting to seize
power, and informed him "of a movement which was intended to thwart
the plan of the generals' council for a coup d'etat" (Anon.,
"The Latief Case: Soeharto's Involvement Revealed," Journal
of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 , pp. 248-50). For a more
comprehensive view of Soeharto's involvement in Gestapu, cf. especially
W.F. Wertheim, "Whose Plot? New Light on the 1965 Events," Journal
of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 (1979), pp. 197-215; Holtzappel,
"The 30 September," in contrast, points more particularly to
intelligence officers close to the banned Murba party of Chaerul Saleh
and Adam Malik: cf. fn. 104.
3. The three phases are:
(1) "Gestapu," the induced left-wing "coup"; (2)
"KAP-Gestapu," or the anti-Gestapu "response,"
massacring the PKI; (3) the progressive erosion of Soekarno's remaining
power. This paper will chiefly discuss Gestapu / KAP-Gestapu, the first
two phases. To call the first phase by itself a "coup" is in my
view an abuse of terminology: there is no real evidence that in this
phase political power changed hands or that this was the intention.
4. U.S. Central Intelligence
Agency, Research Study: Indonesia -- The Coup that Backfired, 1968
(cited hereafter as CIA Study), p. 71n.
5. Harold Crouch, The
Army and Politics in Indonesia
(Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1978), pp. 79-81.
6. In addition, one of the
two Gestapu victims in Central Java (Colonel Katamso) was the only
non-PKI official of rank to attend the PKI's nineteenth anniversary
celebration in Jogjakarta
in May 1964: Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 432. Ironically,
the belated "discovery" of his corpse was used to trigger off
the purge of his PKI contacts.
7. Four of the six
pro-Yani representatives in January were killed along with Yani on
October 1. Of the five anti-Yani representatives in January, we shall see
that at least three were prominent in "putting down" Gestapu
and completing the elimination of the Yani-Soekarno loyalists (the three
were Soeharto, Basuki Rachmat, and Sudirman of SESKOAD, the Indonesian
Army Staff and Command School): Crouch, The Army, p. 81n.
8. While Nasution's
daughter and aide were murdered, he was able to escape without serious
injury, and support the ensuing purge.
22 (October 1976), p. 165 (CIA Memorandum of 22 March 1961 from Richard
M. Bissell, Attachment B). By 1965 this disillusionment was heightened by
Nasution's deep opposition to the U.S.
involvement in Vietnam.
10. Crouch, The Army,
p. 40; Brian May, The Indonesian Tragedy (London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1978), pp. 221-2.
11. I shall assume for
this condensed argument that Untung was the author, or at least approved,
of the statements issued in his name. Scholars who see Untung as a dupe
of Gestapu's controllers note that Untung was nowhere near the radio
station broadcasting in his name, and that he appears to have had little
or no influence over the task force which occupied it (under Captain
Suradi of the intelligence service of Colonel Latief's Brigade):
Holtzappel, pp. 218, 231-2, 236-7. I have no reason to contradict those
careful analysts of Gestapu -- such as Wertheim, "Whose Plot?"
p. 212, and Holtzappel, "The 30 September," p. 231 -- who
conclude that Untung personally was sincere, and manipulated by other dalangs
such as Sjam.
12. Broadcast of 7:15
a.m. October 1; Indonesia
1 (April 1966), p. 134; Ulf Sundhaussen, The Road to Power: Indonesian
Military Politics, 1945-1967 (Kuala Lumpur and Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1982), p. 196.
13. Ibid., p. 201.
14. Broadcasts of October
1 and 4, 1965; Indonesia
1 (April 1966), pp. 158-9.
15. CIA Study, p. 2; O.G.
Roeder, The Smiling General: President Soeharto of Indonesia
(Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1970), p. 12, quoting Soeharto himself: "On
my way to KOSTRAD HQ [Soeharto's HQ] I passed soldiers in green berets
who were placed under KOSTRAD command but who did not salute me."
16. Anderson and McVey
concluded that Soekarno, Air Force Chief Omar Dhani, PKI Chairman Aidit
(the three principal political targets of Soeharto's anti-Gestapu
"response") were rounded up by the Gestapu plotters in the
middle of the night, and taken to Halim air force base, about one mile
from the well at Lubang Buaja where the generals' corpses were
discovered. In 1966 they surmised that this was "to seal the
conspirators' control of the bases," and to persuade Soekarno
"to go along with" the conspirators' plans (Benedict Anderson
and Ruth McVey, A Preliminary Analysis of the October 1, 1965, Coup in
Indonesia [Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1971], pp.
19-21). An alternative hypothesis of course is that Gestapu, by bringing these
men together against their will, created the semblance of a PKI-air
force-Soekarno conspiracy which would later be exploited by Soeharto.
Soekarno's presence at Halim "was later to provide Soekarno's
critics with some of their handiest ammunition" (John Hughes, The
End of Soekarno [London: Angus and Robertson, 1978], p. 54).
17. CIA Study, p. 2; cf.
p. 65: "At the height of the coup ... the troops of the rebels [in
Central Java] were estimated to have the strength of only one battalion;
during the next two days, these forces gradually melted away."
18. Rudolf Mrazek, The
and the Indonesian Military, 1945-1966 (Prague: Czechoslovak Academy
of Sciences, 1978), vol. II, p. 172. These battalions, comprising the bulk
of the 3rd Paratroop Brigade, also supplied the bulk of the troops used
to put down Gestapu in Jakarta.
The subordination of these two factions in this supposed civil war to a
single close command structure under Soeharto is cited to explain how
Soeharto was able to restore order in the city without gunfire. Meanwhile
out at the Halim air force base an alleged gun battle between the 454th
(Green Beret) and RPKAD (Red Beret) paratroops went off "without the
loss of a single man" (CIA Study, p. 60). In Central
Java, also, power "changed hands silently
and peacefully," with "an astonishing lack of violence"
(CIA Study, p. 66).
19. Ibid., p. 60n;
Arthur J. Dommen, "The Attempted Coup in Indonesia,"
Quarterly, January-March 1966, p. 147. The first "get-acquainted"
meeting of the Gestapu plotters is placed in the Indonesian chronology of
events from "sometimes before August 17, 1965"; cf. Nugroho
Notosusanto and Ismail Saleh, The Coup Attempt of the "September
30 Movement" in Indonesia (Jakarta: [Pembimbing Masa, 1968], p.
13); in the CIA Study, this meeting is dated September 6 (p. 112).
Neither account allows more than a few weeks to plot a coup in the
world's fifth most populous country.
20. Mortimer, Indonesian
Communism, p. 429.
21. Of the six General
Staff officers appointed along with Yani, three (Suprapto, D.I.
Pandjaitan, and S. Parman) were murdered. Of the three survivors, two
(Mursjid and Pranoto) were removed by Soeharto in the next eight months.
The last member of Yani's staff, Djamin Gintings, was used by Soeharto
during the establishment of the New Order, and ignored thereafter.
22. Howard Palfrey Jones,
The Possible Dream (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1971), p.
391; cf. Arnold
Brackman, The Communist Collapse in Indonesia
(New York: Norton, 1969), pp. 118-9.
23. Crouch, The Army,
24. Ibid., pp.
140-53; for the disputed case of Bali, even Robert Shaplen, a journalist
close to U.S. official sources, concedes that "The Army began
it" (Time Out of Hand [New York: Harper and Row, 1969], p.
125). The slaughter in East Java "also really got started when the
RPKAD arrived, not just Central Java and Bali"
(letter from Benedict Anderson).
25. Sundhaussen, The
Road, pp. 171, 178-9, 210, 228; Donald Hindley, "Alirans and the
Fall of the Older Order," Indonesia,
25 (April 1970), pp. 40-41.
26. Sundhaussen, The
Road, p. 219.
27. "In 1965 it [the
BND, or intelligence service of the Federal Republic of Germany] assisted
Indonesia's military secret service to suppress a left-wing Putsch
in Djakarta, delivering sub-machine guns, radio equipment and money to
the value of 300,000 marks" (Heinz Hoehne and Hermann Zolling, The
General Was a Spy [New York: Bantam, 1972], p. xxxiii).
28. We should not be
misled by the CIA's support of the 1958 rebellion into assuming that all
U.S. Government plotting against Soekarno and the PKI must have been
CIA-based (cf. fn. 122).
29. Daniel Lev, The
Transition to Guided Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957-1959
(Ithaca, New York: Cornell University press, 1966), p. 12. For John
Foster Dulles' hostility to Indonesian unity in 1953, cf. Leonard Mosley,
Dulles (New York: The Dial Press / James Wade, 1978), p. 437.
Documents Quarterly Catalogue (Woodbridge, Connecticut: Research
Publications, 1982), 001191.
31. As the head of the
PKI's secret Special Bureau, responsible only to Aidit, Sjam by his own
testimony provided leadership to the "progressive officers" of
Gestapu. The issue of PKI involvement in Gestapu thus rests on the
question of whether Sjam was manipulating the Gestapu leadership on
behalf of the PKI, or the PKI leadership on behalf of the army. There
seems to be no disagreement that Sjam was (according to the CIA Study, p.
107) a longtime "double agent" and professed "informer for
the Djakarta Military Command." Wertheim (p. 203) notes that in the
1950s Sjam "was a cadre of the PSI," and "had also been in
touch with Lt. Col. Soeharto, today's President, who often came to stay
in his house in Jogja." This might help explain why in the 1970s,
after having been sentenced to death, Sjam and his co-conspirator Supeno
were reportedly "allowed out [of prison] from time to time and wrote
reports for the army on the political situation" (May, The
Indonesian, p. 114). Additionally, the "Sjam" who actually
testified and was convicted, after being "captured" on March 9,
1967, was the third individual to be identified by the army as the
"Sjam" of whom Untung had spoken: Declassified Documents
Retrospective Collection (Washington, D.C.: Carrollton Press, 1976),
613C; Hughes, p. 25.
32. Wertheim, "Whose
Plot?" p. 203; Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 431 (Sjam);
Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 228 (Suwarto and Sarwo Edhie).
33. Joseph B. Smith, Portrait
of a Cold Warrior (New York: Putnam, 1976), p. 205; cf. Thomas
Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets (New York: Knopf, 1979), p.
Congress, Senate, Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with
Respect to Intelligence Activities. "Alleged Assassination Plots
Involving Foreign Leaders," 94th Cong., 1st Sess., 1975 (Senate
Report No. 94-465), p. 4n; personal communications.
Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 002386; 1981, 367A.
36. Ibid., 1982, 002386
(JCS Memo for SecDef, 22 September 1958).
22 (October 1976), p. 164 (CIA Memorandum of 22 March 1961, Attachment A,
38. Scholars are divided
over interpretations of Madiun as they are over Gestapu. Few Americans
have endorsed the conclusion of Wertheim that "the so-called
communist revolt of Madiun ... was probably more or less provoked by
anti-communist elements"; yet Kahin has suggested that the events
leading to Madiun "may have been symptomatic of a general and
widespread government drive aimed at cutting down the military strength
of the PKI" (W.F. Wertheim, Indonesian Society in Transition
[The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1956], p. 82; George McT. Kahin, Nationalism
and Revolution in Indonesia [Ithaca, New York: Cornell University
Press, 1970], p. 288). Cf. Southwood and Flanagan,
Law, pp. 26-30.
39. Southwood and
Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, p. 68; cf. Nasution's statement to
students on November 12, 1965, reprinted in Indonesia,
1 (April 1966), p. 183: "We are obliged and dutybound to wipe them
[the PKI] from the soil of Indonesia."
40. Examples in Peter
Dale Scott, "Exporting Military-Economic Development," in
Malcolm Caldwell, ed., Ten Years' Military Terror in Indonesia
(Nottingham, England: Spokesman Books, 1975), pp. 227-32.
41. David Ransom,
"Ford Country: Building an Elite for Indonesia,"
in Steve Weissman, ed., The Trojan Horse (San Francisco,
California: Ramparts Press, 1974), p. 97; cf. p. 101. Pauker brought
Suwarto to RAND
42. John H. Johnson, ed.,
The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries (Princeton,
New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1962), pp. 222-4. The foreword to
the book is by Klaus Knorr, who worked for the CIA while teaching at Princeton.
43. Shaplen, Time,
p. 118; Hughes, The End, p. 119; Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia:
Law, pp. 75-6; Scott, "Exporting," p. 231. William Kintner,
a CIA (OPC) senior staff officer from 1950-52, and later Nixon's
ambassador to Thailand, also wrote in favor of "liquidating"
the PKI while working at a CIA-subsidized think-tank, the Foreign Policy
Research Institute, on the University of Pennsylvania campus (William
Kintner and Joseph Kornfeder, The New Frontier of War [London:
Frederick Muller, 1963], pp. 233, 237-8): "If the PKI is able to
maintain its legal existence and Soviet influence continues to grow, it
is possible that Indonesia may be the first Southeast Asia country to be
taken over by a popularly based, legally elected communist government....
In the meantime, with Western help, free Asian political leaders --
together with the military -- must not only hold on and manage, but
reform and advance while liquidating the enemy's political and guerrilla
44. Ransom, "Ford
Country," pp. 95-103; Southwood and Flanagan,
Law, pp. 34-6; Scott, "Exporting," pp. 227-35.
45. Sundhaussen, The
Road, pp. 141, 175.
46. Published U.S.
accounts of the Civic Mission / "civic action" programs
describe them as devoted to "civic projects -- rehabilitating canals,
draining swampland to create new rice paddies, building bridges and
roads, and so on (Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation [Garden City,
New York: Doubleday, 1967], p. 377). But a memo to President Johnson from
Secretary of State Rusk, on July 17, 1964, makes it clear that at that
time the chief importance of MILTAG was for its contact with
anti-Communist elements in the Indonesian Army and its Territorial
Organization: "Our aid to Indonesia ... we are satisfied ... is not
helping Indonesia militarily. It is however, permitting us to
maintain some contact with key elements in Indonesia
which are interested in and capable of resisting Communist takeover.
We think this is of vital importance to the entire Free World" (Declassified
Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 001786 [DOS Memo for President
of July 17, 1964; italics in original]).
47. Southwood and Flanagan,
Law, p. 35; Scott, "Exporting," p. 233.
48. Ransom, "Ford
Country," pp. 101-2, quoting Willis G. Ethel; cited in Scott,
"Exporting," p. 235.
49. Sundhaussen, The
Road, p. 141. There was also the army's "own securely controlled
paramilitary organization of students -- modelled on the U.S.R.O.T.C. and
commanded by an army colonel [Djuhartono] fresh from the U.S. army
intelligence course in Hawaii": Mrazek, The United States,
vol. II, p. 139, citing interview of Nasution with George Kahin, July 8,
50. Pauker, though modest
in assessing his own political influence, does claim that a RAND paper he
wrote on counterinsurgency and social justice, ignored by the U.S.
military for whom it was intended, was influential in the development of
his friend Suwarto's Civic Mission doctrine.
51. Noam Chomsky and E.S.
Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (Boston,
Massachusetts: South End Press, 1979), p. 206; David Mozingo, Chinese
Policy Toward Indonesia (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press,
1976), p. 178.
52. Sundhaussen, The
Road, pp. 178-9. The PSI of course was neither monolithic nor a
simple instrument of U.S.
policy. But the real point is that, in this 1963 incident as in others,
we see conspiratorial activity relevant to the military takeover,
involving PSI and other individuals who were at the focus of U.S.
training programs, and who would play an important role in 1965.
53. Sundhaussen, The
Road, pp. 228-33: in January 1966 the "PSI activists" in Bandung
"knew exactly what they were aiming at, which was nothing less than
the overthrow of Soekarno. Moreover, they had the protection of much of
the Siliwangi officer corps" Once again, I use Sundhaussen's term
"PSI-leaning" to denote a milieu, not to explain it. Sarwo
Edhie was a long-time CIA contact, while Kemal Idris' role in 1965 may
owe much to his former PETA commander the Japanese intelligence officer
Yanagawa. Cf. Masashi Nishihara, The Japanese and Soekarno's Indonesia
(Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1976), pp. 138, 212.
54. Sundhaussen, The
Road, pp. 99-101. Lubis was also a leader in the November 1957
assassination attempt against Soekarno, and the 1958 rebellion.
55. Ibid., 188;
cf. p. 159n.
"student" status does not of course mean that he was a mere
pawn in the hands of those with whom he established contact at SESKOAD.
For example, Soeharto's independence from the PSI and those close to them
became quite evident in January 1974, when he and Ali Murtopo cracked
down on those responsible for army-tolerated student riots reminiscent of
the one in May 1963. Cf. Crouch, The Army, pp. 309-17.
57. Sundhaussen, The
Road, pp. 228, 241-43. In the same period SESKOAD was used for the
political re-education of generals like Surjosumpeno, who, although
anti-Communist, were guilty of loyalty to Soekarno (p. 238).
58. Crouch, The Army,
p. 80; at this time Soeharto was already unhappy with Soekarno's
"rising pro-communist policy" (Roeder, The Smiling, p.
59. Crouch, The Army,
p. 81; cf. Mrazek, The United
vol. II, pp. 149-51.
60. Sundhaussen, The
Road, pp. 241-3.
61. Through his
intelligence group OPSUS (headed by Ali Murtopo) Soeharto made contact
with Malaysian leaders; in two accounts former PSI and PRRI / Permesta
personnel in Malaysia played a role in setting up this sensitive
political liaison: Crouch, The Army, p. 74; Nishihara, The
Japanese, p. 149.
62. Sundhaussen, The
Road, pp. 188.
63. Mrazek, The United
vol. II, p. 152.
64. Cf. Edward Luttwak, Coup
D'Etat: A Practical Handbook (London: Allen Lane / Penguin Press,
1968), p. 61: "though Communist-infiltrated army units were very
powerful they were in the wrong place; while they sat in the Borneo
jungles the anti-Communist paratroops and marines took over Jakarta, and
the country." What is most interesting in this informed account by
Luttwak (who has worked for years with the CIA) is that "the anti-Communist
paratroops" included not only the RPKAD but those who staged the
Gestapu uprising in Jakarta,
before putting it down.
65. Nishihara, The
Japanese, pp. 142, 149.
66. Ibid., p. 202,
cf. p. 207. The PRRI / Permesta veterans engaged in the OPSUS peace
feelers, Daan Mogot and Willy Pesik, had with Jan Walandouw been part of
a 1958 PRRI secret mission to Japan, a mission detailed in the inside
account by former CIA officer Joseph B. Smith (Portrait of a Cold
Warrior [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1976], p. 245), following
which Walandouw flew on "to Taipeh, then Manila and New York."
communication. If the account of Neville Maxwell (senior research officer
at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Oxford University) can be
believed, then the planning of the Gestapu / anti-Gestapu scenario may
well have begun in 1964 (Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2
, pp. 251-2; reprinted in Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law,
p. 13): "A few years ago I was researching in Pakistan into the
diplomatic background of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan conflict, and in foreign
ministry papers to which I had been given access came across a letter to
the then foreign minister, Mr. Bhutto, from one of his ambassadors in
Europe ... reporting a conversation with a Dutch intelligence officer
with NATO. According to my note of that letter, the officer had remarked
to the Pakistani diplomat that 'Indonesia
was going to fall into the Western lap like a rotten apple.' Western
intelligence agencies, he said, would organize a 'premature communist
coup ... [which would be] foredoomed to fail, providing a legitimate and
welcome opportunity to the army to crush the communists and make Soekarno
a prisoner of the army's goodwill.' The ambassador's report was dated
22 (October 1976), p. 164 (CIA Memo of March 27, 1961, Appendix A, p. 8);
cf. Powers, The Man, p. 89.
22 (October 1976), p. 165 (CIA Memo of March 27, 1961).
70. The lame-duck
Eisenhower NSC memo would have committed the U.S.
to oppose not just the PKI in Indonesia,
but "a policy increasingly friendly toward the Sino-Soviet bloc on
the part of whatever regime is in power." "The size and
importance of Indonesia,"
it concluded, "dictate [!] a vigorous U.S.
effort to prevent these contingencies": Declassified Documents
Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 000592 (NSC 6023 of 19 December, 1960).
For other U.S. intrigues at this time to induce a more vigorous U.S.
involvement in Southeast Asia, cf. Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue,
1983, 001285-86; Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy (New York:
Bobbs Merrill, 1972), pp. 12-14, 17-20.
The Possible Dream, p. 299.
72. Mortimer, Indonesian
Communism, pp. 385-6.
Department of Defense, Military Assistance Facts, May 1, 1966.
Before 1963 the existence as well as the amount of the MAP in Indonesia
was withheld from the public; retroactively, figures were published.
After 1962 the total deliveries of military aid declined dramatically,
but were aimed more and more particularly at anti-PKI and anti-Soekarno
plotters in the army; cf. fns. 46, 76 and 83.
74. The New York Times,
August 5, 1965, p. 3; cf. Nishihara, The Japanese, p. 149; Mrazek,
vol. II, p. 121.
75. A Senate amendment in
1964 to cut off all aid to Indonesia unconditionally was quietly killed
in conference committee, on the misleading ground that the Foreign
Assistance Act "requires the President to report fully and
concurrently to both Houses of the Congress on any assistance furnished
to Indonesia" (U.S. Cong., Senate, Report No. 88-1925, Foreign
Assistance Act of 1964, p. 11). In fact the act's requirement that
the president report "to Congress" applied to eighteen other
countries, but in the case of Indonesia
he was to report to two Senate Committees and the speaker of the
House: Foreign Assistance Act, Section 620(j).
The Possible Dream, p. 324.
77. U.S., Congress,
Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Multinational Corporations and
United States Foreign Policy, Hearings (cited hereafter as Church
Committee Hearings), 94th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1978, p. 941; Mrazek, The
United States, vol. II, p. 22. Mrazek quotes Lt. Col. Juono of the
corps as saying that "we are completely dependent on the assistance
of the United
78. Notosusanto and
Saleh, The Coup, pp. 43, 46.
79. ishihara, The
Japanese (pp. 171, 194, 202), shows the role in the 1965-66
anti-Soekarno conspiracy of the small faction (including Ibnu Sutowo,
Adam Malik, and the influential Japanese oilman Nishijima) who interposed
themselves as negotiators between the 1958 PRRI Rebellion and the central
government. Alamsjah, mentioned below, was another member of this group;
he joined Soeharto's staff in 1960. For Murba and CIA, cf. fn. 104.
80. Fortune, July
1973, p. 154, cf. Wall Street Journal, April 18, 1967; both in
Scott, "Exporting," pp. 239, 258.
Documents Retrospective Collection, 609A (Embassy Cable 1002 of
October 14, 1965); 613A (Embassy Cable 1353 of November 7, 1965).
82. The New York Times,
August 5, 1965, p. 3.
Department of Defense, Military Assistance Facts, May 1, 1966. The
thirty-two military personnel in FY 1965 represent an increase over the
projected figure in March 1964 of twenty-nine. Most of them were
apparently Green Beret U.S. Special Forces, whose forward base on Okinawa
was visited in August 1965 by Gestapu plotter Saherman. Cf. fn. 122.
84. George Benson, an
associate of Guy Pauker who headed the Military Training Advisory Group (MILTAG)
was later hired by Ibnu Sutowo to act as a lobbyist for the army's oil
company (renamed Pertamina) in Washington:
The New York Times, December 6, 1981, p. 1.
85. San Francisco
Chronicle, October 24, 1983, p. 22, describes one such USAF-Lockheed
operation in Southeast Asia, "code-named 'Operation Buttercup' that
operated out of Norton Air Force Base in California from 1965 to
1972." For the CIA's close involvement in Lockheed payoffs, cf.
Anthony Sampson, The Arms Bazaar (New York: Viking, 1977), pp.
137, 227-8, 238.
86. Church Committee
Hearings, pp. 943-51.
87. Ibid., p. 960.
88. Nishihara, The
Japanese, p. 153.
89. Lockheed Aircraft
International, memo of Fred C. Meuser to Erle M. Constable, 19 July 1968,
in Church Committee Hearings, p. 962.
90. Ibid., p. 954;
cf. p. 957. In 1968, when Alamsjah suffered a decline in power, Lockheed
did away with the middleman and paid its agents' fees directly to a group
of military officers (pp. 342, 977).
91. Church Committee Hearings,
p. 941; cf. p. 955.
92. Southwood and Flanagan,
Law, p. 59.
93. Crouch, The Army,
Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 002507 (Cable of April 15, 1965,
from U.S. Delegation to U.N.); cf. Forbes Wilson, The Conquest of Copper
(New York: Atheneum, 1981), pp. 153-5.
95. World Oil,
August 15, 1965, p. 209.
96. The New York Times,
June 19, 1966, IV, 4.
97. Ralph McGehee,
"The C.I.A. and the White Paper on El
The Nation, April 11, 1981, p. 423. The deleted word would appear
from its context to be "deception." Cf. Roger Morris and
Richard Mauzy, "Following the Scenario," in Robert L. Borosage
and John Marks, eds., The CIA File (New York: Grossman / Viking,
1976), p. 39: "Thus the fear of Communist subversion, which erupted
to a frenzy of killing in 1965-1966, had been encouraged in the
'penetration' propaganda of the Agency in Indonesia.... 'All I know,'
said one former intelligence officer of the Indonesia
events, 'is that the Agency rolled in some of its top people and that
things broke big and very favorable, as far as we were concerned.'"
All references to deletions appear in the original text as printed in The
Nation. These bracketed portions, shown in this article in bold-face
type, reflect censorship by the CIA.
98. Victor Marchetti and
John Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (New York: Knopf,
1974), p. 245. For a list of twenty-five U.S.
operatives transferred from Vietnam
in the 1964-73 period, cf. Susanne Jonas and David Tobis, Guatemala
(Berkeley, California, and New York: North American Congress on Latin
America, 1974), p. 201.
99. Tad Szulc, The
Illusion of Peace (New York: Viking, 1978), p. 724. The top CIA operative
in charge of the 1970 anti-Allende operation, Sam Halpern, had previously
served as chief executive officer on the CIA's anti-Soekarno operation of
1957-58: Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power (New York: Summit
Books, 1983), p. 277; Powers, The Man, p. 91.
100. Donald Freed and Fred
Simon Landis, Death in Washington
(Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill, 1980), pp. 104-5.
101. Time, March 17,
102. Sundhaussen, The
Road, p. 195.
The Possible Dream, p. 374; Justus M. van der Kroef, "Origins of
the 1965 Coup in Indonesia:
Probabilities and Alternatives," Journal of Southeast Asian
Studies, III, 2 (September 1972), p. 282. Three generals were alleged
targeted in the first report (Soeharto, Mursjid, and Sukendro); all survived
104. Chaerul Saleh's Murba
Party, including the pro-U.S. Adam Malik, was also promoting the
anti-Communist "Body to Support Soekarnoism" (BPS), which was
banned by Soekarno on December 17, 1964. (Subandrio "is reported to
have supplied Soekarno with information purporting to show U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency influence behind the BPS" [Mortimer, p. 377]; it
clearly did have support from the CIA- and army-backed labor organization
SOKSI.) Shortly afterwards, Murba itself was banned, and promptly
"became active as a disseminator of rumours and unrest"
(Holtzappel, p. 238).
105. Sundhaussen, The
Road, p. 183; Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, pp. 376-77; Singapore
Straits Times, December 24, 1964; quoted in Van der Kroef,
"Origins," p. 283.
Times, September 14, 1965; quoted in Van der Kroef,
"Origins," p. 296. Mozingo, Chinese Policy (p. 242)
dismisses charges such as these with a contemptuous footnote.
107. Powers, The Man,
p. 80; cf. Senate Report No. 94-755, Foreign and Military Intelligence,
p. 192. CIA-sponsored channels also disseminated the Chinese arms story
at this time inside the United
States -- e.g., Brian Crozier, "Indonesia's
Civil War," New Leader, November 1965, p. 4.
108. Mortimer, Indonesian
Communism, p. 386. The Evans and Novak column coincided with the
surfacing of the so-called "Gilchrist letter," in which the
British ambassador purportedly wrote about a U.S.-U.K. anti-Soekarno plot
to be executed "together with local army friends." All accounts
agree that the letter was a forgery. However it distracted attention from
a more incriminating letter from Ambassador Gilchrist, which Soekarno had
discussed with Lyndon Johnson's envoy Michael Forrestal in mid-February
1965, and whose authenticity Forrestal (who knew of the letter) did not
deny (Declassified Documents Retrospective Collection, 594H
[Embassy Cable 1583 of February 13, 1965]).
109. Cf. Denis Warner, Reporter,
March 28, 1963, pp. 62-63: "Yet with General A.H. Nasution, the
defense minister, and General Jani, the army chief of staff, now
out-Soekarnoing Soekarno in the dispute with Malaya over Malaysia ... Mr.
Brackman and all other serious students of Indonesia must be troubled by
the growing irresponsibility of the army leadership."
110. The New York Times,
August 12, 1965, p. 2.
111. Brackman, The
Communist, p. 40.
112. McGehee, "The
C.I.A.," p. 423.
113. Hughes, The End,
pp. 43-50; cf. Crouch, The Army, p. 140n: "No evidence
supports these stories."
114. Hughes, The End,
p. 150, also tells how Sarwo Edhie exploited the corpse of Colonel
Katamso as a pretext for provoking a massacre of the PKI in Central
Java; cf. Crouch, p. 154n; also fn. 6.
and McVey, A Preliminary, p. 133.
116. Benedict Anderson and
Ruth McVey, "What Happened in Indonesia?"
New York Review of Books, June 1, 1978, p. 41; personal
communication from Anderson.
A second newspaper, Suluh Indonesia, told its PNI readers that the
PNI did not support Gestapu, and thus served to neutralize potential opposition
to Soeharto's seizure of power.
117. Thus defenders of the U.S.
role in this period might point out that where "civic action"
had been most deeply implanted, in West
Java, the number of civilians murdered was
relatively (!) small; and that the most indiscriminate slaughter occurred
where civic action programs had been only recently introduced. This does
not, in my view, diminish the U.S.
share of responsibility for the slaughter.
118. CIA Study, p.
70; Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 185.
119. William Colby, Honorable
Men: My Life in the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), p. 227.
Crouch, The Army (p. 108), finds no suggestion in the Mahmilub
evidence "that the PKI aimed at taking over the government,"
only that it hoped to protect itself from the Council of Generals.
120. McGehee, "The
C.I.A.," p. 424.
121. Szulc, The Illusion,
122. Southwood and Flanagan,
Law, pp. 38-9 (Cambodia).
According to a former U.S. Navy intelligence specialist, the initial U.S.
military plan to overthrow Sihanouk "included a request for
authorization to insert a U.S.-trained assassination team disguised as
Vietcong insurgents into Phnom
Penh to kill Prince
Sihanouk as a pretext for revolution" (Hersh, The Price, p.
179). As Hersh points out, Green Beret assassination teams that operated
routinely dressed as Vietcong cadre while on missions. Thus the alleged U.S.
plan of 1968, which was reportedly approved "shortly after Nixon's
inauguration ... 'at the highest level of government,'" called for
an assassination of a moderate at the center by apparent leftists, as a
pretext for a right-wing seizure of power. This raises an interesting
question, albeit outlandish: did the earlier anti-Soekarno operation call
for foreign elements to be infiltrated into the Gestapu forces murdering
the generals? Holtzappel ("The 30 September," p. 222) has
suspected "the use of outsiders who are given suitable disguises to
do a dirty job." He points to trial witnesses from Untung's
battalion and the murder team who "declared under oath not to have
known ... their battalion commander." Though these witnesses
themselves would not have been foreigners, foreigners could have
infiltrated more easily into their ranks than into a regular battalion.
************* 0 0 0 0 0 **************
The Indonesian Massacres and the CIA
by Ralph McGehee
Covert Action Quarterly, Fall 1990
In my original article ( The Nation, April 11,
1981) I tried to explain, through the constraints of the secrecy agreement
and the deletions by the CIA's review board, one aspect of the Agency's
successful effort to manipulate events in Indonesia
in late 1965 and early 1966. The article was based on a classified CIA
study of which I was custodian while working in the International
Communism Branch of the CIA's Counterintelligence Staff. The Nation
joined with me in an unsuccessful lawsuit by the ACLU to gain release of
the deleted portions of the article. The Agency claims it cannot delete
unclassified lies or speculations. By heavily censoring my article, it
effectively admitted to an Agency role in the peration.
In a recent story in the San Francisco
Examiner, researcher Kathy Kadane quotes CIA and State department officials
who admit compiling lists of names of the Communist Party of Indonesia
(PKI), making those lists available to the Indonesian military, and
checking names off as people were "eliminated.'' The killings were
part of a massive bloodletting after an abortive coup attempt taking,
according to various estimates, between 250,000 and 1,000,000 lives and
ultimately led to the overthrow of President Sukarno's government.
Since then a debate has simmered over what
happened. A recent study based on information from former Johnson ad
ministration officials, asserted that for months the U.S.
"did their damnedest" through public pressure and more discreet
methods, to prod the Indonesian army to move against Sukarno without
Debate continues over the origins of the coup
attempt called Gestapu. Was it the result of CIA machinations, a takeover
maneuver by General Suharto, a revolt by leftist officers under the
control of the PKI, a power play by the People's Republic of China,
a pre-emptive strike by Sukarno loyalists to prevent a move by officers
friendly to the CIA, some combination of these factors, or others as yet
unknown? I confess to no inside knowledge of the Gestapu.
It is well known that the CIA had long sought
to unseat Sukarno: by funding an opposition political party in the
mid-1950s, sponsoring a massive military overthrow attempt in the
mid-1958, planning his assassination in 1961, and by rigging intelligence
to inflame official U.S.
concerns in order to win approval for planned covert actions.
Before attempting to describe one aspect of
the CIA's role, it is essential to provide background on the scope and
nature of its worldwide operations. Between 1961 and 1975 the Agency
conducted 900 major or sensitive operations, and thousands of lesser
covert actions. The majority of its operations were propaganda, election
or paramilitary. Countries of major concern, such as Indonesia
in the early 1960s, were usually subjected to the CIA's most concerted
Critics of the CIA have aptly described the
mainstays of such attention: "discrediting political groups... by
forged documents that may be attributed to them. . . ," faking
"communist weapon shipments,'' capturing communist documents and
then inserting forgeries prepared by the Agency's Technical Services
Division. The CIA's "Mighty Wurlitzer" then emblazoned and
disseminated the details of such "discoveries."
The Mighty Wurlitzer was a worldwide
propaganda mechanism consisting of hundreds or even thousands of media
representatives and officials including, over a period of years,
approximately 400 members of the American media. The CIA has used the
Wurlitzer and its successors to plant stories and to suppress expository
or critical reporting in order to manipulate domestic and international
perceptions. From the early 1980s, many media operations formerly the
responsibility of the CIA have been funded somewhat overtly by the
National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
From the earliest days, the Agency's
International Organizations Division (IOD) implemented and coordinated
its extensive covert operations. The division's activities created or
assisted international organizations for youth, students, teachers,
workers, veterans, journalists, and jurists. The CIA used, and continues
to use, the various labor, student, and other suborned organizations not
only for intelligence and propaganda purposes, but also to participate in
elections and paramilitary operations and to assist in overthrowing
governments. At the same time, the CIA manipulates their organizational
publications for covert propaganda goals.
The labor unions the CIA creates and
subsidizes, in their more virulent stages, provide strong-arm goon squads
who burn buildings, threaten and beat up opponents, pose as groups of the
opposition to discredit them, terrorize and control labor meetings, and
participate in coups.
of "Subversive Control Watch Lists"
As a matter of course, the Agency develops
close relationships with security services in friendly nations and
exploits these in many ways-by recruiting unilateral sources to spy on
the home government, by implementing pro-U.S. policies, and by gathering
and exchanging intelligence. As one aspect of those liaisons, the CIA
universally compiles local "Subversive Control Watch Lists" of
leftists for attention by the local government. Frequently that attention
is the charter of government death squads.
After the CIA's overthrow of Arbenz's
government in Guatemala
in 1954, the U.S.
gave the new government lists of opponents to be eliminated. In Chile
from 1971 through 1973, the CIA fomented a military coup through forgery
and propaganda operations and compiled arrest lists of thousands, many of
whom were later arrested and assassinated. In Bolivia
in 1975, the CIA provided lists of progressive priests and nuns to the
government which planned to harass, arrest and expel them. To curry the
favor of Khomeini, in 1983 the CIA gave his government a list of KGB
agents and collaborators operating in Iran.
Khomeini then executed 200 suspects and closed down the communist Tudeh
party. In Thailand,
I provided the names of hundreds of leftists to Thai security services.
program in Vietnam
was a massive U.S.-backed program to compile arrest and assassination
lists of the Viet Cong for action by CIA-created Provisional
Reconnaissance Unit death squads. In fact, former Director of the CIA
William Colby compared the Indonesian operation directly to the Vietnam
Phoenix Program. Colby further admitted directing the CIA to concentrate
on compiling lists of members of the PKI and other left groups.
In 1963, responding to Colby's direction,
U.S.-trained Indonesian trade unionists began gathering the names of
workers who were members or sympathizers of unions affiliated with the
national labor federation, SOBSI. These trade unionist spies laid the
groundwork for many of the massacres of 1965-1966. The CIA also used
elements in the 105,000 strong Indonesian national police force to
penetrate and gather information on the PKI.
Providing "Watch Lists" based on
technical and human penetration of targeted groups is a continuing
program of CIA covert operators. Today, U.S.-advised security services in
El Salvador, using the techniques of the Phoenix program, operate
throughout El Salvador and have taken a heavy toll on peasants, activists
and labor leaders in that country. In the late 1980s, the CIA began
assisting the Philippine government in the conduct of
"low-intensity" operations by, among other things,
computerizing security service records of leftists and assisting in the
development of a national identity card program. Wherever the CIA
cooperates with other national security services it is safe to assume
that it also compiles and passes "Subversive Control Watch Lists."
the Pieces Together
All of this is essential to understanding what
happened in Indonesia
in 1965 and 1966. In September and October of 1965, the murder of six top
military officers during the Gestapu coup attempt provided a pretext for
destroying the PKI and removing Sukarno. Surviving officers-principally
General Suharto, who was not a target-rallied the army and defeated the
coup, ultimately unseating Sukarno.
Two weeks before the coup, the army had been
warned that the PKI was plotting to assassinate army leaders. The PKI,
nominally backed by Sukarno, was a legal and formidable organization and
was the third largest Communist Party in the world. It claimed three
million members, and through affiliated organizations-such as labor and
youth groups-it had the support of 17 million others. The Army's anxiety
had been fed by rumors throughout 1965 that mainland China
was smuggling arms to the PKI for an imminent revolt. Such a story
appeared in a Malaysian newspaper, citing Bangkok
sources which relied in turn on Hong
Kong sources. Such untraceability is a telltale
mark of the Mighty Wurlitzer.
Less subtle propaganda claimed that the PKI
was a tool of the Red Chinese and planned to infiltrate and divide the
armed forces. To bolster these allegations, "communist weapons"
were discovered inside Chinese crates labeled as construction material.
Far more inflammatory news reporting prior to October 1965 claimed the
PKI had a secret list of civilian and military leaders marked for
After the coup attempt the Indonesian Army in
the main left the PKI alone, as there was no credible evidence to
substantiate the horror stories in the press. [Eight sentences censored.]
As noted, a favorite tactic is to arrange for the capture of communist
documents and then insert forgeries prepared by the Agency's Technical
Suddenly documents were serendipitously
discovered providing "proof" of PKI guilt. On October 23, 1965,
the Suara Islam reported:
...millions of copies of the text of a
proclamation of the counterrevolutionary Gestapu...have been
recovered.... The text...was obviously printed in the CPR [People's
Republic of China].
Steel helmets and a large quantity of military equipment have also been
found.... There is in controvertible evidence of the CPR's
involvement.... The arms sent by the CPR were shipped under cover of
"diplomatic immunity." ...other important documents offer
irrefutable evidence of the involvement of the CPR Embassy and the CPR
On October 30,1965 Major General Suharto, in a
speech before a military audience, angrily denounced the PKI saying that
captured documents proved the PKI was behind Gestapu. Suharto demanded
that the "Communists be completely uprooted."
On November 2, the Indonesian Armed Forces
Bulletin asserted that the PKI had a plan for revolution, and published
supposed PKI directives for the period following the October coup
attempt. The document stated that the PKI "is only supporting the
revolutionary council" that the coup tried to establish. It added
that if the council were crushed the PKI would "directly
confront" the generals whom the coup leaders accused of planning to
overthrow President Sukarno. The document also said, "when the
revolution is directly led by the PKI, we can achieve victory because the
command will be under the PKI-our hidden strength is in the armed forces."
Military leaders [seven words censored] began
a bloody extermination campaign. Civilians involved were either recruited
and trained by the army on the spot, or were drawn from groups such as
the army- and CIA-sponsored SOKSI trade unions [Central Organization of
Indonesian Socialist Employees], and allied student organizations. Media
fabrications had played a key role in preparing public opinion and
mobilizing these groups for the massacre.
The documents, manufactured stories of
communist plans and atrocities, and claims of communist arms shipments
created an atmosphere of hysteria, resulting in the slaughter and the
establishment of a dictatorship that still exists today.
The Agency wrote a secret study of what it did
[One sentence censored.] The CIA was extremely proud of its [one word
censored] and recommended it as a model for future operations [one half
Yesterday's Fake News, Today's Fake History
The CIA desperately wants to conceal evidence
of its role in the massacre, which it admits was one of the century's
worst. The U.S.
media seem equally determined to protect the American image from
consequences of covert operations.
Reaction to Kadane's new revelations was
swift. An Op-Ed by columnist Stephen S. Rosenfeld in the July 20, 1990
Washington Post, and an article by correspondent Michael Wines in the
July 12, 1990 New York
Times, each deny any CIA role in the massacre. Rosenfeld, reversing his conclusions
of a week before, ignores the new evidence, cites one of many academic
studies, and concludes with certainty: "For me, the question of the
American role in Indonesia
Prior to his article, Wines interviewed me.
His approach was to reject any information that might implicate the
Agency. I told him virtually everything in this article and more. He
dismissed the information and instead quoted John Hughes, an
"observer removed from the controversy," citing him as formerly
of the Christian Science Monitor but failing to mention that he was also
State Department spokesman from 1982 to 1985. In an interview with
Kadane, Hughes claimed that during the coup which brought Suharto to
power, he functioned as the "eyes and ears of the embassy."
Wines was uninterested.
Subversive control watch lists are an
effective and deadly political tool long used by U.S.
intelligence, so deadly that the Agency cannot allow them to become
public knowledge. Keeping them secret depends on at least two things:
Agency censorship of government employees, and self-censorship by the
Ralph McGehee worked for the CIA from 1952
until 1977 and now writes about intelligence matters, notably the book
Deadly Deceits -- My 25 years in the CIA (New York: Sheridan Square
Press, 1983). He has compiled a computer data base on CIA activities.
Persons interested may write to him at: 422
Arkansas Ave., Herndon, VA
The historical background
1965 the international working class suffered one of its greatest defeats
and betrayals in the post-World War II period.
one million workers and peasants were slaughtered in a CIA-organised army
coup led by General Suharto which swept aside the shaky bourgeois regime
of President Sukarno, crushed the rising movement of the Indonesian
masses, and established a brutal military dictatorship.
US diplomats and CIA officers, including the former American ambassador
to Indonesia and Australia,
Marshall Green, have admitted working with Suharto's butchers to massacre
hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants suspected of supporting the
Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). They personally provided the names of
thousands of PKI members from the CIA's files for the armed forces death
to Howard Federspeil, who was an Indonesian expert working at the State
Department at the time of the anti-communist program: "No one cared,
so long as they were communists that they were being butchered."
coup was the culmination of a prolonged operation by the CIA, with the
help of agents of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, to build up
and train the Indonesian armed forces in preparation for a military
dictatorship to suppress the revolutionary strivings of the Indonesian
time of the coup, the PKI was the largest Stalinist party in the world,
outside China and the
Soviet Union. It had 3.5 million
members; its youth movement another 3 million. It controlled the trade
union movement SOBSI which claimed 3.5 million members and the 9
million-strong peasants' movement BTI. Together with the women's
movement, the writers' and artists' organisation and the scholars'
movement, the PKI had more than 20 million members and active supporters.
the independence struggle against the Dutch in the 1940s and throughout
the 1950s and 1960s hundreds of thousands of class conscious workers
joined the PKI, believing that it still represented the revolutionary
socialist traditions of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
the end of 1965, between 500,000 and a million PKI members and supporters
had been slaughtered, and tens of thousands were detained in
concentration camps, without any resistance being offered.
killings were so widespread that the rivers were clogged with the corpses
of workers and peasants. While the CIA-backed military death squads
rounded up all known PKI members and sympathisers and carried out their
grisly work, Time magazine reported:
killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of corpses has
created a serious sanitation problem in northern Sumatra
where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travellers from
these areas tell us small rivers and streams have been literally clogged
with bodies. River transportation has become seriously impeded."
was this historic defeat able to be inflicted? The answer requires an
examination of the history of the struggle of the Indonesian masses, the
treachery of the national bourgeoisie led by Sukarno, the
counter-revolutionary role played by the PKI, and the crucial part played
by the Pabloite opportunists of the "United Secretariat" of
Ernest Mandel and Joseph Hansen in aiding the treachery of the Stalinists.
'Jewel of Asia'
bloody coup in Indonesia
was the outcome of the drive by US
imperialism to gain unchallenged control of the immense natural wealth
and strategic resources of the archipelago, often referred to as the
"Jewel of Asia".
importance that United States
imperialism attached to Indonesia
was emphasised by US President Eisenhower in 1953, when he told a state
governors' conference that it was imperative for the US
to finance the French colonial war in Vietnam
as the "cheapest way" to keep control of Indonesia.
detailed: "Now let us assume that we lose Indochina.
If Indochina goes, several things
happen right away. The Malay peninsula,
the last little bit of land hanging on down there, would be scarcely
defencible. The tin and tungsten we so greatly value from that area would
cease coming, and all India
would be outflanked.
would be in no position for defence. All of that position around there is
very ominous to the United States,
because finally if we lost all that, how would the free world hold the
rich empire of Indonesia?
you see, somewhere along the line, this must be blocked and it must be
blocked now, and that is what we are trying to do.
when the US votes
$400 million to help the war (in Indochina),
we are not voting a giveaway program. We are voting for the cheapest way
that we can prevent the occurrence of something that would be of a most
terrible significance to the United States
of America, our security, our power and ability to
get certain things we need from the riches of the Indonesian territory
and from South East Asia.
Indonesia is estimated to be the
fifth richest country in the world in terms of natural resources. Besides
being the fifth largest oil producer, it has enormous reserves of tin,
bauxite, coal, gold, silver, diamonds, manganese, phosphates, nickel,
copper, rubber, coffee, palm oil, tobacco, sugar, coconuts, spices,
timber and cinchona (for quinine).
1939 the then Dutch East Indies supplied more than half the total US
consumption of 15 key raw materials. Control over this vital region was
central to the conflict in the Pacific between the US
during World War II. In the post-war period the US
ruling class was determined not to have the country's riches torn from
their grasp by the Indonesian masses.
the defeat of the French in Vietnam
in 1954 the US feared
that the struggle of the Vietnamese masses would ignite revolutionary
upheavals throughout the South East Asian region, threatening its grip
just prior to the Indonesian coup, Richard Nixon, soon to become US
president, called for the saturation bombing of Vietnam
to protect the "immense mineral potential" of Indonesia.
Two years later he declared Indonesia
to be the "greatest prize" of South East
the coup, the value of Suharto's dictatorship to the interests of US
imperialism was underlined in a 1975 US State Department report to
Congress which referred to Indonesia
as the "most strategically authoritative geographic location on
· "It has the largest population
of any country in South East Asia.
· "It is the principal supplier of
raw materials from the region.
· "Japan's continued economic
prosperity depends heavily on oil and other raw materials supplied by
· "Existing American investments
in Indonesia are substantial, and our trading relationship is growing
· "Indonesia will probably become
an increasingly important supplier of US energy needs.
· "Indonesia is a member of OPEC, but
assumed a moderate stance in its deliberations, and did not participate
in the oil embargo.
· "The Indonesian archipelago sits
astride strategic waterways and the government of Indonesia is playing a
vital role in the law-of-the-sea negotiations which are vital to our
security and commercial interests."
of colonial plunder
Dutch colonial powers mercilessly plundered Indonesia
for 350 years, looting the natural resources, establishing vast
agricultural estates, and ruthlessly exploiting its people.
1940 there was only one doctor per 60,000 people (compared to India,
where the ratio was 1:6,000) and just 2,400 Indonesian graduates from
high school. At the end of World war II, 93 percent of the population was
beginning of the 19th century, the rising British bourgeoisie
increasingly challenged the Dutch for domination over the region. In 1800
the Dutch East India
company collapsed and the British occupied the region from 1811 to 1816.
The Treaty of London of 1824 carved up the region between the two
colonial powers: the British took control of the Malayan peninsula and
the Dutch kept charge of the 13,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago.
turn of the 20th century, the emerging imperialist power, the United
States, began challenging the old European colonial
power, particularly after the American occupation of the Philippines
was locked into a trade war with the Dutch over oil and rubber. The
Standard Oil Company began to contest the monopoly on the Indonesian oil
fields by the Royal Dutch company. In 1907, Royal Dutch and Shell merged
to combat the American competitor. Taking advantage of World War I,
Standard Oil commenced drilling in central Java in 1914, and in the same
corporations also moved into the rubber plantations. Goodyear Tyre and
Rubber opened estates and US Rubber brought the largest rubber estates in
the world under single ownership.
US strategy in the region during
this period was summed up by Senator William Beveridge:
Philippines are ours
forever ... and beyond the Philippines
illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either. We will not
repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our duty in
the Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race,
trustee under God, of the civilisation of the world ... We will move
forward to our work ... with gratitude ... and thanksgiving to Almighty
God that he has marked us as his chosen people, henceforth to lead
in the regeneration of the world ... Our largest trade henceforth must
be with Asia. The Pacific is our ocean ... and the Pacific is the
ocean of the commerce of the future. The power that rules the Pacific,
therefore, is the power that rules the world. And with the Philippines,
that power is and will forever be the American
(Emphasis in the original)
rise of Japanese imperialism and its expansion into Korea,
Manchuria and China
led to increasing conflict with US
imperialism over control over the region, culminating in World War II.
The drive by the Japanese bourgeoisie to contest US, British, French and
Dutch hegemony brought into sharp focus the value of Indonesia
as the South East Asian gateway to the Indian Ocean
and as a source of natural resources.
1942 the Dutch colonialists surrendered control of Indonesia
to the Japanese rather than allow the Indonesian people to fight for
their independence. All the imperialist powers had good reason to fear
the oppressed Indonesian masses.
early as 1914 the best representatives of the Indonesian toilers had
turned to Marxism when the Indies Social Democratic Association was
founded on the initiative of the Dutch communist Hendrik Sneevliet. In
1921 it had transformed itself into the Indonesian Communist Party in
response to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
PKI had won great authority among the masses by taking the lead of the
struggle against Dutch colonialism, including the first major uprisings,
in Java and Sumatra in 1926 and 1927.
the Chinese masses were rising up in the second Chinese Revolution of
1926-27, the Indonesian workers and peasants also came forward in a
rebellion, led by the PKI. However, the Dutch colonial authorities
succeeded in quelling the revolts. They arrested 13,000 suspects,
imprisoned 4,500 and interned 1,308 in a concentration camp in West
Papua. The PKI was outlawed.
liberation struggle betrayed
end of World War II the oppressed masses in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka,
China, throughout South East Asia and internationally came forward in
revolutionary struggles to throw off the yoke of imperialism.
same time, the working class in Europe
and the capitalist countries engaged in convulsive struggles. These were
only contained through the treachery of the Soviet bureaucracy headed by
Stalin and the Stalinist parties worldwide. The betrayal of the French,
Italian and Greek workers in particular and the imposition of
bureaucratically controlled regimes in Eastern
Europe allowed imperialism to stabilise itself.
1930s, the emergence of a privileged caste in the Soviet
Union, which usurped political power from the Soviet
proletariat, had destroyed the Communist Parties. From revolutionary
internationalist parties they became transformed into counter-revolutionary
organisations, suppressing the independent struggles of the working class.
colonial countries the Stalinised parties, including the PKI,
systematically subordinated the masses to the national bourgeoisie led by
figures such as Gandhi in India and Sukarno in Indonesia who sought to
reach settlements with the colonial powers in order to maintain
post-war settlements did not achieve genuine national liberation from
imperialism but imposed on the masses a new set of agents of imperialist
rule. This was clearly the case in Indonesia
where the national bourgeoisie, with Sukarno in the lead, entered into a
series of reactionary deals with the Dutch.
the son of a Javanese school teacher of aristocratic family, was a young
architecture graduate, part of a very thin layer of educated
petty-bourgeois. He had been the founding chairman of the Indonesian
Nationalist Party (PNI) in 1927 and had suffered imprisonment and exile
at the hands of the Dutch for campaigning for national independence.
World War II Sukarno and the national bourgeoisie worked with the
occupying Japanese forces in the hope of achieving a degree of national
self-government. In the dying days of the war Sukarno, with the reluctant
support of the Japanese, declared the independent Republic
of Indonesia on
August 17, 1945.
perspective of the national bourgeois leaders was not to lead a
proletarian uprising against imperialism but to establish an administration
and strengthen their hand for negotiations with the Dutch, who had no
forces in the region.
the response of the Dutch ruling class was to launch a brutal war to
suppress the new regime. They ordered that Indonesia
be kept under Japanese command until British troops could arrive. The
British and the Dutch then used Japanese troops to attack the ferocious
resistance of the Indonesian workers, youth and peasants. Thus all the
imperialist powers united against the Indonesian masses.
armed opposition erupted throughout Indonesia
against the Dutch forces, Sukarno, backed by the PKI leadership, pursued
a policy of compromise with the Dutch and signed the Linggadjati
Agreement in March 1947. The Dutch nominally recognised Indonesian
control over Java, Madura and Sumatra
and agreed to evacuate their troops. But in fact the Dutch used this as a
breathing space to build up their forces and prepare for a new attack of
unsurpassed brutality in July and August 1947.
this period, hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants joined or
supported the PKI because of their disillusionment with the bourgeois
leaders and because they viewed the PKI as a revolutionary party. They
were also greatly inspired by the advances of Mao Zedong's Chinese Communist
Party in its war against Chiang Kai Shek. In the war against the Dutch,
workers and peasants repeatedly seized property and mass unions were
head off this development, Sukarno's Republican government, led by the
then Prime Minister Amir Sjarifuddin (a secret member of the PKI), signed
the January 1948 Renville Agreement (so called because it was negotiated
aboard the USS Renville in the harbour). This pact gave the Dutch control
of half the sugar mills in Java, 75 percent of Indonesia's
rubber, 65 percent of coffee, 95 percent of tea and control of Sumatran
oil. Moreover, this US-imposed settlement provided for the withdrawal of
guerrilla forces from Dutch-occupied territory and created the conditions
for the liquidation of the PKI-led "people's armed units" in
favour of the bourgeois "Indonesian National Armed Forces"
controlled by Sukarno and his generals.
1948 a series of strikes erupted against the Republican government, now
headed by right-wing Vice-President Hatta as Prime Minister, demanding a
parliamentary government. These strikes were suppressed by Sukarno who
appealed for "national unity".
same time, the exiled PKI leader Musso returned from the Soviet
Union and a series of prominent leaders of the Indonesian
Socialist and Labor parties announced that they had been secret PKI
members for many years. The announcement revealed a far wider base of
support for the PKI than previously realised by the imperialist powers.
July 1948 the bourgeois leaders, including Sukarno and Hatta, held a
secret meeting with US representatives at Sarangan where the US
demanded, in return for assistance to the government, the launching of a
purge of PKI members in the army and the public service. Hatta, who also
held the post of Defence Minister, was given $10 million to carry out a
months later, in an attempt to crush the PKI, the Maduin Affair was
launched in Java. A number of army officers, members of the PKI, were
murdered and others disappeared, after they opposed plans to demobilise
the guerrilla units of the army that had been at the forefront of the
fight against the Dutch.
killings provoked an uprising at Maduin which was suppressed bloodily by
the Sukarno regime. Prime Minister Hatta proclaimed martial law. Thousands
of PKI members were killed, 36,000 were imprisoned and PKI leader Musso
and 11 other prominent leaders were executed.
Consul General Livergood cabled his superiors in the US
that he had informed Hatta that "the crisis gives the Republican
government the opportunity (to) show its determination (to) suppress
by the anti-communist pogrom, the Dutch launched a new military attack in
December 1948, arresting Sukarno. But widespread resistance forced the
Dutch to capitulate within six months.
then, the 1949 Round Table conference at the Hague imposed a new betrayal
on the Indonesian masses, involving still more concessions by the
Sukarno regime agreed to take over the debts of the former colony, and gave
guarantees to protect Dutch investments. The Dutch were to keep control
of West Papua and the Indonesian
Republic was to
continue to cooperate with the Dutch imperialists within the framework of
a Netherlands-Indonesian Union. The Sukarno government kept all the
colonial laws intact. A new army was formed by incorporating the former
Dutch troops of Indonesian nationality into the "National Armed
Forces". In other words, the old colonial state apparatus and laws
were retained beneath the facade of parliamentary government in the new
PKI leadership supported the betrayal of the national liberation struggle
and determined to confine the working class and peasantry to
"peaceful democratic" forms of struggle. This was a
continuation of the PKI's position throughout World War II when the PKI
leadership (as well as the Communist Party of the Netherlands)
had followed Stalin's line of cooperating with the Dutch imperialist
government against Japan,
and called for an "independent Indonesia
within the Commonwealth of the Dutch Empire". This call remained PKI
policy even during the post-war fighting against the Dutch.
for the Indonesian masses, the fraud of "national independence"
under the continued domination of Dutch, American and world imperialism
became ever more apparent. The natural resources, principal industries,
agricultural estates and financial power remained in the hands of the
example, 70 percent of the inter-islands sea traffic was still controlled
by the Dutch firm KPM and one of the big Dutch banks, the Nederlandche
Handel Maatschappij, controlled 70 percent of all Indonesian financial
to the Indonesian government calculations, in the mid-1950s, Dutch
investments in the country were worth $US1.5 billion. The Sukarno
government declared that even if it wanted to nationalise the Dutch
possessions it did not have the money to indemnify the former colonial
rulers. And to nationalise without compensation would be labelled
disillusionment of the masses was reflected in the 1955 elections when
the number of seats held by the PKI increased from 17 to 39.
two years the mass movement was to erupt in the seizure of Dutch,
American and British factories, plantations, banks, shops and ships.
betray the mass movement
December 1957 the whole fabric of imperialist domination over the
Indonesian economy was shaken by a massive eruption of the working class
and peasantry. Factories, plantations, banks and ships were seized and
bourgeois nationalist regime was only able to survive because the
Stalinist Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) leadership sabotaged the mass
movement, insisting that the masses hand over the property they had
seized to the US-backed army which was sent in by Sukarno to take control.
dispatch in the New York Times of December 8, 1957 provided some idea of
the scope and intensity of the upsurge: "The movement of the workers
in Jakarta, to the extent we have been able to determine, took place
without the government's sanction, and in opposition to the declarations
of Prime Minister Djuanda, of the Army Chief-of-Staff, General Abdul
Haris Nasution, and of other high governmental functionaries, according
to whom such measures were inadmissible and rendered their participants
liable to severe penalties...
three Dutch banks here, the Netherlands Trading Society, the Escompto and
the Netherlands Commercial Bank, were seized by the delegates. They read
a proclamation before their enthusiastic comrades and then before the
Dutch administrators, stating that the seizure was made in the name of
the Association of Indonesian Workers and that the banks would become the
property of the Indonesian Republic."
Dutch newspaper Volksrant reported with alarm on December 11, 1957:
"In Jakarta the Communists continue to hoist red flags on the Dutch
enterprises ... Today the main office of Philips in Jakarta and that of
the Societe D'Assurances Nillmij have been 'expropriated' by the
Indonesian personnel under the leadership of 'Communist' trade union
movement was not confined to Java. According to the New York
Herald-Tribune of December 16: "Workers of SOBSI, central trade
union organisation dominated by the Communists, seized Dutch bakeries and
stores in Java and banks in Borneo."
The New York Times of the same day reported that in Palembang,
capital of South Sumatra, "security
forces arrested a number of workers belonging to the central trade union
organisation controlled by the Communists for having taken 'arbitrary
action' against three Dutch proprietors. Thirty seven red flags hoisted
by the workers before the houses occupied by the Dutch employees were
bourgeois papers spoke of "a situation of anarchy in Bali" and
a fleeing Dutch plantation owner was quoted as saying that in Atjeh and
Deli, on the east coast of Sumatra, the
mass actions were directed not only against the Dutch companies but also
against the American and British. Similar reports came from North
Sumatra, the Celebes and other islands.
were reports too that the uprisings inspired resistance in
New Guinea. At Karema 20 people were
wounded when native people fought soldiers after a native nurse reported
that she had been insulted.
rebellion throughout Indonesia
erupted in response to a call by Sukarno for a general strike against all
Dutch enterprises. He had previously raised the question of
nationalisation of Dutch industry at a mass rally. Sukarno's aim was to
use the threat of nationalisation to pressure the Netherlands
to withdraw from West Papua, which it retained under the 1949 Round Table
Conference agreement, so that Indonesia
could then take control.
to balance between the rapacious dictates of Dutch, US and British
imperialism, the seething discontent of the oppressed masses and the
growing strength of the US-backed military on which his regime relied,
Sukarno sought to use the pressure of the masses to force the hand of
themselves began to occupy the Dutch companies. Sukarno was totally
unprepared for such a response. He immediately authorised the military to
move in to take control of the enterprises which had been seized by the
Political Bureau of the PKI rushed to Sukarno's assistance, issuing a
resolution that urgently appealed to the people "to quickly resolve
the differences of opinion on the methods of struggle against Dutch
colonialism by negotiations, so that in this way unity in the people and
between the people, the government and the army may be strengthened".
same time the PKI appealed to the workers, "not only to set going
the occupied enterprises, but to make them function in a still more
disciplined and better way and to increase production.
government must appoint a capable and patriotic direction for these
enterprises and the workers must support this direction with all their strength."
addition, the PKI insisted that the takeovers must be confined to the
Dutch companies, seeking to reassure US and British imperialism that
their interests would not be harmed: "All the actions of the
workers, of the peasants and the organisations of youth are directed
against the Dutch capitalists. The other capitalist countries did not
take a hostile attitude in the conflict between Holland
and Indonesia in West
Irian. That is why no action will be engaged against the
enterprise of the capitalists of other countries."
the efforts of the PKI to choke the movement of the masses, Tillman
Durdin wrote in the New York Times of December 16: "Members of the
National Consultative Council of Communist orientation are known to have
actually pronounced forcibly against the seizures by workers and have
called such movements undisciplined 'anarcho-syndicalism'. The Communists
defend a program of seizure directed by the government such as it is now
himself was ready to flee the country for a "holiday" in India,
but the handing over of the Dutch enterprises to the military, on the
instructions of the PKI, rescued his bourgeois regime. The Stalinist
leadership of the PKI not only saved the day for the Sukarno government.
They created the conditions for the military generals and their US
backers to prepare for their bloody counter-revolution eight years later.
perspective fought for by the PKI leadership was the Stalinist "two
stage" theory that the struggle for socialism in Indonesia
had to first pass through the stage of so-called "democratic"
capitalism. The revolutionary strivings of the masses for socialist
measures had to be suppressed and subordinated to a "united
front" with the national bourgeoisie.
line with this reactionary perspective, the Stalinist bureaucracies in
the Soviet Union and China
hailed Sukarno and his regime throughout this entire period. Krushchev,
for example, visited Jakarta
and said he would give Sukarno every assistance in "all
eventualities". In fact most of the weapons that were to be used to
massacre the Indonesian masses in 1965 were supplied by the Kremlin.
1956 the US-backed army had begun preparations for military dictatorship
to crush the movement of the masses. In August the commander of the West
Java military region ordered the arrest of Foreign Minister
Roeslan Abdulgani on a charge of corruption. In November the army Deputy
Chief of Staff, Colonel Zulkifli Lubis, attempted unsuccessfully to seize
control of Jakarta
and overthrow the Sukarno government. The next month there were regional
military takeovers in Central and North Sumatra.
October 1956 Sukarno moved to strengthen his hand against the masses and
to appease the military by calling for political parties to disband
themselves. This call was later extended to an attempt to form a National
Council of all parties, including the PKI, to rule the country. When
military commanders in East Indonesia, Kalimantan, Atjeh, and South
Sumatra rejected the plan and took control of their
provinces, Sukarno declared a state of emergency. Finally a new
"non-party" cabinet was formed which included two PKI
response to the mass upsurge of December 1957 the operations of United
States imperialism were immediately
stepped up. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been active
since the 1940s, spending millions to subsidise pro-US elements within
the national bourgeoisie, particularly the Socialist Party (PSI) of
Sumiro, a colleague of Hatta, and its larger Moslem ally, the Masjumi
party of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, with whom Hatta had also retained
1957 and 1958 a series of CIA-inspired secessionist and right-wing
revolts were orchestrated in the oil-rich islands of Sumatra and Sulawesi,
where the PSI and Masjumi dominated politically.
first was the Permesta military revolt which began in March 1957 and
continued into 1958, ending in a CIA-backed attempted coup in February
States government provided substantial financial
support, military advisers, arms and a small airforce of B-26 bombers,
piloted from bases in Taiwan
and the Philippines.
US Secretary of State Dulles even publicly expressed his support for the
aircraft carrier of the US Seventh Fleet was sent to Singapore
and for some time it appeared that the US
might directly intervene in Sumatra
under the guise of defending Caltex oil personnel and property.
Indonesian military command finally decided that the rebellion, having failed
to win any popular support at all, had to be ended. The Sukarno
the role of the army had been enormously strengthened. Over the next six
years the US poured
huge resources into it, laying the basis for General Suharto to begin his
climb to power after leading the military campaign to seize control of West
Papua in 1962.
1959 and 1965 the US
supplied $64 million in military grant-aid to the Indonesian military
generals. According to a report in Suara Pemuda Indonesia: "Before
the end of 1960, the US
had equipped 43 battalions of the army. Every year the US
trained officers of the right-wing military clique. Between 1956 and 1959
more than 200 high-ranking officers were trained in the US,
while low-ranking officers are trained by the hundreds every year. Once
the head of the Agency for International Development in America said that
US aid, of course, was not intended to support Sukarno and that the US
had trained a great number of officers and ordinary people who would form
a unit to make Indonesia a 'free country'."
same time, Sukarno instituted his system of "Guided Democracy".
In July 1959 the parliament was dissolved and Sukarno imposed a
presidential constitution by decree again with the full support of the
PKI. He further boosted the hand of the military, appointing army
generals to leading positions.
PKI warmly embraced Sukarno's "Guided Democracy" and his
supposed consensus or Konsepsi alliance between nationalism, Islam and
communism called "NASAKOM".
of their "national united front" with Sukarno and the national
bourgeoisie, the PKI leaders promoted the most deadly illusions in the
five years before the bloody defeat inflicted upon the Indonesian workers
and peasants at the hands of the military, the PKI line was put most
crudely in a statement by the leadership of SOBSI, the PKI-led trade
union federation, on May Day 1960:
SOBSI maintains the viewpoint that the armed forces of the Republic are
still the true son of the popular revolution ... and therefore from the
officers down to the NCOs and soldiers ... they cannot be drawn into
actions which are treacherous to the Republic. Besides, president
Sukarno, who identifies himself with the people, possesses a strong
influence over members of the armed forces and he refuses to be a
military annexation of West Papua was
fully backed by the PKI leadership, along with the suppression of the
resistance of the West Papuan people to the occupation. In Indonesia
itself, the underlying economic and class tensions, produced by the
continued exploitation of the Indonesian masses by the imperialist
corporations and their national bourgeois lackeys, re-emerged. The period
of "Guided Democracy," that is, of the collaboration of the PKI
leadership with the national bourgeoisie in suppressing the independent
struggles of the worker and peasant masses, failed to resolve any of the
pressing economic and political questions. Export income declined,
foreign reserves fell, inflation continued to spiral, and bureaucratic
and military corruption became endemic.
1963 onwards the PKI leadership increasingly sought to avoid the growing
clashes between the party's mass activists and the police and military.
PKI leaders stressed the "common interests" of the police and
"the people". PKI leader D.N. Aidit inspired the slogan
"For Civil Order Help the Police". In April, 1964, in an
interview with S.M. Ali of the Far Eastern Economic Review Aidit
set out for the international bourgeoisie the Stalinists' perspective of
a peaceful and gradual "two stage" transformation to socialism
we complete the first stage of our revolution which is now in progress,
we can enter into friendly consultation with other progressive elements
in our society, and without an armed struggle lead the country towards
socialist revolution." He presented a scenario in which the masses
would be confined to placing pressure on the national bourgeoisie:
"The chastening effect of the present stage of the revolution will
maintain a kind of revolutionary pressure on Indonesia's
national capitalists. "There will be no armed struggle unless there
is foreign armed intervention on the capitalists' behalf. And when we
successfully complete our present national democratic revolution the
chances of any foreign power interfering with Indonesia's
international affairs will become extremely remote."
August, 1964, Aidit urged all PKI members to rid themselves of
"sectarian attitudes" toward the army, calling on all left-wing
artists and writers to make the "soldier masses" the subject of
art and literary works. In late 1964 and early 1965 hundreds of thousands
of peasants took action to seize the land of the big landowners. Fierce
clashes developed with landlords and police. To forestall the
revolutionary confrontation which was rapidly developing, the PKI called
on its supporters to prevent violent conflict with the landlords and to
improve cooperation with other elements, including the armed forces.
meeting of the PKI central committee Aidit urged the suppression of
peasants' actions and denounced party cadre who, "carried away by
their desire to spread the peasant actions, immediately became impatient,
indulged in individual heroism, were insufficiently concerned with
developing the consciousness of the peasants and wanting a definite
event, were not careful enough in differentiating and choosing their
targets." PKI leaders justified halting the land takeovers and
handing back the land to the landowners by referring to the
"impending probable" formation of a "NASAKOM cabinet".
early 1965 workers in the oil and rubber industries owned by US
corporations began to seize control of them. The PKI leadership responded
by formally joining the government. At the same time, leading generals
were brought into the cabinet. The PKI ministers not only sat beside the
military butchers in Sukarno's cabinet, but they continued to promote the
deadly illusion that the armed forces were part of the "peoples'
democratic revolution". Aidit delivered a lecture to army staff
school trainees in which he referred to the "feeling of mutuality
and unity that daily grows strong between all the armed forces of the Indonesian
Republic and the
various groups of Indonesian people, including the communists".
this way, the Stalinists completely disarmed the most class conscious
sections of the working class. The elementary Marxist understanding of
the state as the "body of armed men" employed by the ruling
class to maintain its rule was criminally denied. Aidit rushed to assure
the bourgeoisie and the military that the PKI opposed the revolutionary
mobilisation of the masses. "The important thing in Indonesia
now is not how to smash the state power as is the case in many other
states, but how to strengthen and consolidate the pro-people's aspect ...
and to eliminate the anti-people's aspect".
Sukarno regime moved against the working class by banning all strikes in
industry. The PKI leadership raised no objections because industry was
considered to belong to the NASAKOM government. Just before the coup, the
PKI, well aware of preparations for military rule, called for the
establishment of a "fifth force" within the armed forces, consisting
of armed workers and peasants. Far from fighting for the independent
mobilisation of the masses against the military threat, the PKI
leadership sought to constrain the deepening mass movement within the
bounds of the capitalist state.
grovelled to the generals, seeking to assure them that the PKI's proposal
would lead to the strengthening of the state. Aidit announced in a report
to the PKI central committee that the "NASAKOMisation" of the
armed forces could be achieved and that the fifth force could be
established with the cooperation of the armed forces. Right up to the
very end, the PKI leadership suppressed the revolutionary aspirations of
the working class. As late as May 1965, the PKI Politburo sowed the
illusion that the military and state apparatus was being modified to
isolate the "anti-people's aspect" of state power:
strength of the pro-people's aspect (of state power) is already becoming
steadily greater and holds the initiative and the offensive, while the
anti-people's aspect, although moderately strong, is relentlessly pressed
into a tight corner. The PKI is struggling so that the pro-people's
aspect will become more powerful and finally dominate, and the
anti-people's aspect will be driven out of the state power." The Indonesian
and international working class paid a bitter and bloody price for this
Stalinist perfidy when Suharto and the generals struck on September 30,
-- Stalinism's bloody legacy
Indonesian military coup of October 1-2, 1965 was the outcome of a
carefully-orchestrated and long-planned operation by the CIA and the US-trained
and backed commanders of the Indonesian armed forces. Throughout 1965
class tensions mounted. The year began with peasants seizing the estates
of large landowners and oil and rubber workers occupying US-owned
enterprises. President Sukarno had brought the army commanders, led by
General Nasution, and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) leadership
into his cabinet to suppress the movement. The PKI leadership halted the
takeovers but the mass movement was becoming increasingly difficult to
control. There was growing discontent over the sentencing of 23 peasants
to 15 to 20 years in prison for allegedly beating an army officer to
death in the course of resisting military action to suppress land
seizures in Sumatra.
evening of September 30, 1965, a CIA provocation was organised. A group
of middle-ranking military officers, at least one of whom had close
personal relations with General Suharto, arrested and executed the army
chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Yani, and five other leading
generals, and announced the establishment of a Revolutionary Council. The
round up of the generals did not include two key figures. The first was
Suharto, then the commander of the Strategic Reserve Forces (Kostrad),
comprised of the military's crack troops. The mutineers led by
Lieutenant-Colonel Untung made no attempt to arrest Suharto nor cut off
his headquarters in Jakarta
despite being in a position to do so. The Defence Minister, General
Nasution, also escaped. He was supposedly on the plotters' death list but
so-called coup bid was a charade. Within 24 hours Suharto routed the
rebels, virtually without a shot being fired, and took control of the
capital, backed by Nasution. By the end of the week, Suharto's
reconstituted army command eliminated all pockets of resistance, and
launched the greatest anti-communist pogrom in history, orchestrated by
embassy and the CIA. The White House, Pentagon and CIA, already fighting
an undeclared war in Vietnam,
were determined to drown the Indonesian revolution in blood. US diplomats
and CIA officers, led by the US
ambassador to Indonesia,
Marshall Green, worked hand in glove with Suharto's death squads to
exterminate every known member and supporter of the Indonesian Communist
preparation for the coup, US officials had spent at least two years
compiling death lists which were handed over to the military with a clear
instruction: exterminate them all. Suharto's men were ordered to report
back after each set of killings so the names could be checked off on the
CIA's lists. Some of the American officers involved described what took
place. "It really was a big help to the army," said a former
political officer in the US
embassy in Jakarta,
Robert Martens. "They probably killed a lot of people and I probably
have a lot of blood on my hands, but that's not all bad.
a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment."
headed an embassy group of State Department and CIA officers who, from
1962, compiled a detailed who's who of the leadership of the PKI. They
included, he said, names of provincial, city and other local PKI
committee members, and leaders of PKI-backed trade union, women's and
youth groups. The operation was masterminded by former CIA director
William Colby, who was then director of the CIA's Far East Division, and
thus responsible for directing US covert strategy in Asia. Colby said the
work to identify the PKI leadership was a forerunner to the CIA's Phoenix
Program in Vietnam,
which attempted to exterminate supporters of the National Liberation
Front in the late 1960s.
admitted that the work of checking off the death lists was regarded as so
important that it was supervised at the CIA's intelligence directorate in
"We came to the conclusion that with the sort of draconian way it
was carried out, it really set them (the PKI) back for years."
Deputy CIA station chief Joseph Lazarsky described with undisguised
relish how Suharto's Jakarta headquarters
provided the US
embassy with running reports on the roundup and killing of PKI leaders.
"We were getting a good account in Jakarta
of who was being picked up. The army had a 'shooting list' of about 4,000
or 5,000 people. "They didn't have enough goon squads to zap them
all, and some individuals were valuable for interrogation. The
infrastructure was zapped almost immediately. We knew what they were
doing. We knew they would keep a few and save them for the kangaroo
courts, but Suharto and his advisers said, if you keep them alive, you
have to feed them."
this was conducted with the approval of Green who was later appointed US
ambassador to Australia,
where he played a leading role in the preparations for the dismissal of
the Whitlam government in 1975. At least one million people were
slaughtered in the six month holocaust that followed the coup. This was
the estimate of a team of University
graduates commissioned by the army itself to inquire into the extent of
and aided by the army, gangs of youth from right-wing Muslim
organisations carried out mass killings, particularly in central and east
Java. There were reports that at certain points the Brantas
River near Surabaya
was "choked with corpses". Another report from the east Javan
hill town of Batu
said there were so many killed within the narrow confines of a police
courtyard that the bodies were simply covered over with layers of cement.
On the island
of Bali, formerly
considered to be a PKI stronghold, at least 35,000 were killed by the
beginning of 1966. There the Tamins, the storm-troopers of Sukarno's PNI
(Indonesian National Party) performed the slaughter. A special
correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung told of bodies lying
along the roads, or heaped in pits, and of half-burned villages in which
peasants dared not leave the charred shells of their huts. In other areas
suspects were forced to kill their alleged comrades with their own hands
to prove their loyalty. In the major cities anti-Chinese pogroms were
conducted. Workers and public servants who went on strike in protest at
the counter-revolutionary wave of terror were sacked.
least 250,000 workers and peasants were thrown into concentration camps.
An estimated 110,000 were still held as political prisoners at the end of
1969. Executions continue to this day, including several dozen since the
early 1980s. Another four prisoners, Johannes Surono Hadiwiyono, Safar
Suryanto, Simon Petrus Sulaeman and Norbertus Rohayan, were executed
nearly 25 years after the coup, a clear sign that the Suharto regime
still fears the resurgence of the Indonesian proletariat and poor
hundreds of thousands of suspected PKI members and supporters were being
hunted down and slaughtered, the PKI leadership and their Stalinist
counterparts in the Kremlin, Beijing
and the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) urged PKI cadre and workers
and peasants to offer no resistance, giving a green light for the
generals to proceed with their mass executions. The Stalinists deepened
their reactionary line of demanding that the masses subordinate
themselves to the national bourgeoisie and Sukarno, who was maintained by
Suharto as a puppet president, and to the armed forces themselves.
October 1, 1965 both Sukarno and PKI secretary general Aidit responded to
the formation of the so-called rebel Revolutionary Council by moving to
the Halim Air Base in Jakarta
to seek protection. On October 6 Sukarno called for "national
unity," that is, "unity" between the military and its
victims, and an end to violence. The Political Bureau of the Central
Committee of the PKI immediately urged all members and mass organisations
to support the "leader of the Indonesian revolution" and offer
no resistance to the military. Its statement was reprinted in the CPA's
studied the appeal by the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces
of the Indonesian Republic, by the leader of the Indonesian revolution,
president Sukarno, the political bureau of the central committee of the
Communist Party of Indonesia declares full support for the appeal and
appeals to all party committees and party members and sympathisers, as
well as revolutionary mass organisations led by the PKI members to
facilitate the carrying out of this appeal."
Sukarno, the "leader of the Indonesian revolution," was
collaborating with the military repression in the hope of saving his own
neck. He called for a thorough purge of those allegedly involved in the
"September 30 affair," (the alleged coup bid led by Colonel
Untung), and permitted PKI leaders to be arrested and murdered. On
October 15 he appointed Suharto as army chief.
months later, on March 11, 1966, Sukarno handed Suharto unchallenged
decree-making power. He "ordered" Suharto to "take all
steps" to re-establish order and to safeguard Sukarno's
"personal safety and authority". Suharto's first exercise of
his new powers was to formally outlaw the PKI. In recognition of the
value of his services, Sukarno was retained as the titular president of
the military dictatorship until March 1967.
PKI leadership continued to demand that the masses bow to the authority
of the Sukarno-Suharto regime. Aidit, who had fled, was captured and
executed by the army on November 24, 1965 but his line was maintained by
the PKI's Second Secretary Njoto. In an interview given to a Japanese
newspaper correspondent he emphasised:
PKI recognises only one head of state, one supreme commander, one great
leader of the revolution President Sukarno... It is President Sukarno
united with the forces of the people who will decide the destiny and
future of Indonesia."
party members, Njoto continued, should "fully support the directives
of President Sukarno and pledge themselves to implement these without
reserve... Our party is making every effort in its power to prevent a
civil war." In other words, while the military butchers and their
CIA mentors organised the systematic liquidation of not only the PKI
leadership but the most class conscious sections of the Indonesian
masses, the PKI ordered its cadre to ensure that no-one fought back.
bankruptcy and treachery of the Stalinist "two-stage" theory of
insisting that the masses tie their fate to Sukarno and the national
bourgeoisie could not have been spelt out more graphically. The betrayal
of the PKI was endorsed and reinforced by the Stalinist bureaucracies in Moscow
The Kremlin blamed "putschist" and "adventuristic"
elements in the PKI for the defeat and called repeatedly for the
"unity" of the Indonesian "revolution" around
Sukarno's NASAKOM (Nationalism, Islam and Communism).
October 12, 1965 Soviet leaders Brezhnev, Mikoyan and Kosygin sent a
special message to Sukarno: "We and our colleagues learned with
great joy that your health has improved ... We have with interest heard
about your radio appeal to the Indonesian people to remain calm and
prevent disorders ... This appeal will meet with profound
understanding." At a Tricontinental Conference in Havana
in February, 1966, the Soviet delegation tried in every way to block a
public condemnation of the counter-revolutionary terror raging against
the Indonesian masses. Its stance won praise from the Suharto regime. The
Indonesian parliament passed a resolution on February 11 expressing
"full appreciation" for the "efforts of the delegations of
Nepal, Mongolia, the Soviet Union and others at the Solidarity Conference
of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America, who successfully
neutralised the efforts of the counter-revolutionists of the so-called
September 30 movement, and their protectors and leaders, to intervene in
the internal affairs of Indonesia".
the betrayal of the Stalinists was so brazen that the parliamentary
lapdogs of the military junta were able to refer to the CIA's September
30 set-up as an attempted counter-revolution! The Beijing Stalinists similarly
wiped their hands of the fate of the Indonesian masses. They even went
ahead in Jakarta
with a World Conference Against Foreign Bases and stood by without
protest as their Indonesian comrades were arrested in the conference hall
legacy of the 'bloc of four classes'
Stalinist betrayal in 1965 was the culmination of more than 20 years of
treachery in which the PKI, working on the basis of the Stalinist
"two-stage" theory and, in particular, the Maoist ideology of a
"bloc of four classes," tied the working class and peasant
masses to the bourgeois nationalist regime of Sukarno. Aidit spelt out
the ideological framework of the bloody defeat of the Indonesian
revolution shortly after returning from 18 months in China
in July 1950 and wresting control of the PKI leadership: "The
working class, the peasants, the petty-bourgeoisie and the national
bourgeoisie must unite in one national front."
slavishly followed the line of the Maoist regime in China
which suppressed the independent struggle of the working class and
attempted to establish a "New Democracy", a bourgeois state, in
alliance with sections of the national bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie
after the collapse of Chiang Kai Shek's dictatorship. Parroting Mao, he
called for a "people's democracy" and a "united front of
all anti-imperialist and anti-feudal forces in the country. That is to
say, the working class, the peasantry, the petty-bourgeoisie and the
national bourgeoisie." In keeping with the counter-revolutionary
"two-stage" theory of Stalinism, "The task of this
alliance is to bring about not socialist but democratic reforms".
demanded that the workers and peasant masses support not only the
national bourgeoisie but also "all other patriotic and anti-colonial
forces including the left (rather progressive) landlord group". It
was this line, which Aidit hammered out incessantly, which was used to
suppress workers' and peasants' struggles, tie the working class to the
Sukarno regime, and create the conditions for the US-backed military to
strike. Time and again, PKI members and supporters were instructed to
strangle the class struggle and the revolutionary strivings of the
oppressed masses in order to preserve the "national united
front": "The basic principle we must adhere to in the conduct
of the national struggle is to subordinate the class struggle to the
"two stage" theory of Stalinism insists that in the colonial
and semi-colonial countries such as Indonesia,
the oppressed masses must not engage in struggles that threaten the
national bourgeoisie nor raise the program of socialist revolution. The
class struggle has to be stifled to prop up the national bourgeoisie and
establish a national capitalist democracy.
bloody counter-revolutionary consequences of this Stalinist line were
first demonstrated in China
in 1926-27 when the butcher Chiang Kai Shek inflicted a crushing defeat
on the Chinese working class after the Communist Party had been
instructed by the Kremlin leadership to join his bourgeois nationalist
Koumintang. The massacres carried out by Chiang confirmed Leon Trotsky's
warnings that the weak and belated bourgeoisies of the oppressed nations
are organically incapable of conducting any consistent struggle against
imperialism and feudalism. That is because, to do so requires the
mobilisation of the masses in revolutionary struggle and such a struggle
immediately comes into conflict with the class position of the national
bourgeoisie as exploiters of their "own" working class and
peasantry. As Trotsky explained in his writings on the betrayal of the
really arouse the workers and peasants against imperialism is possible
only by connecting their basic and most profound life interest with the
cause of the country's liberation. A workers' strike small or large an
agrarian rebellion, an uprising of the oppressed sections in city and
country against the usurer, against the bureaucracy, against the local
military satraps, all that arouses the multitudes, that welds them together,
that educates, steels, is a real step forward on the road to the
revolutionary and social liberation of the Chinese people... But
everything that brings the oppressed and exploited masses of the toilers
to their feet inevitably pushes the national bourgeoisie into an open
bloc with the imperialists. The class struggle between the bourgeoisie
and the masses of workers and peasants is not weakened, but, on the
contrary, is sharpened by imperialist oppression, to the point of bloody
civil war at every serious conflict." (Trotsky, Problems of the
Chinese Revolution, New Park 1969, p.5) The criminal role played by
the PKI in tying the Indonesian masses to Sukarno's national bourgeois
regime made Trotsky's analysis tragically prophetic.
unresolved tasks of genuine national liberation, land redistribution,
democracy and economic development in Indonesia
and all historically-oppressed countries can be achieved only by the
working class leading the peasant masses in the socialist revolution.
That is, national self-determination can only arise as a by-product of
the socialist revolution led by the proletariat. The victory of this
struggle is bound up with the development of the world socialist
revolution to overthrow imperialism on a world scale. This is the kernel
of the Marxist theory of Permanent Revolution developed by Leon Trotsky
and vindicated by the victory of the October 1917 Russian Revolution.
accomplices of counter-revolution
months following the bloody CIA-organised military coup of October 1-2,
1965, every known member and supporter of the Indonesian Communist Party
(PKI) and all working class parties, and hundreds of thousands of other
Indonesian workers and peasants, were massacred or thrown into
concentration camps for torture and inter-rogation. The systematic
extermination and ruthless suppression of working class opposition
intensified after March 11, 1966 when Sukarno, the bourgeois nationalist
leader retained by the military as President, granted unfettered
decree-making power to the coup leader and army chief, General Suharto.
betrayal of the tumultuous revolutionary movement of the Indonesian
masses by the Stalinist leadership of the PKI was a profound defeat with
enormous implications for the international working class. The PKI
blocked the repeated attempts of the workers and peasants to seize the
factories and plantations. It tied the masses to the bourgeois
nationalist regime of Sukarno and ultimately joined the US-backed
military leaders, the future butchers of the masses, in the Sukarno
cabinet. After the coup the Stalinists ordered their cadre to enforce
Sukarno's appeal for "unity" with the military and to prevent
any resistance to the holocaust that was being unleashed. The blow struck
to the Indonesian revolution reverberated throughout Asia
and around the world. In particular it encouraged and enabled the massive
escalation of the US
invasion of Vietnam,
it crushed the hopes and revolutionary striving of the masses in Malaysia,
Thailand, and the Philippines,
and it strengthened the hand of the unstable bourgeois regimes in the
and Hansen whitewash Stalinist treachery
the response of the Pabloite revisionists of the "United Secretariat,"
led by Ernest Mandel and Joseph Hansen, was to minimise the magnitude of
the great Indonesian betrayal, to whitewash the counter-revolutionary
role of the Stalinists, and, above all, to cover up their own
responsibility for the bloodbath. While the Indonesian masses were being
slaughtered, Professor Mandel attempted to paint the most reassuring
picture of the future prospects of the Indonesian revolution, in order to
dull the consciousness of the international working class.
"Naturally the struggle has not ended in Indonesia,"
he wrote from the comfort of his Belgian university chair in an article
published in the Pabloite journal World Outlook on March 11, 1966.
part of the Communist cadres have been able to go underground," he
went on. "The discontent of the hungry masses is increasing from day
to day; the empty stomachs of the workers and peasants are not filled
through massacres. The revolt will widen against the corrupt regime.
Sukarno understands this and will resume his eternal balancing act; he
has just eliminated the most ferocious of the generals from his cabinet.
The people will again have their turn." This whitewash of the
immense betrayal of the Indonesian masses demonstrates the
counter-revolutionary consequences of Pabloite opportunism, which emerged
in the Trotskyist movement from the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Michel Pablo, elements such as Mandel adapted to the post-World War II
stabilisation of capitalism and the seeming strengthening of the
Stalinist bureaucracies which suppressed the revolutionary upsurge of the
international working class in the immediate post-war period. They
abandoned Trotsky's struggle for the construction of the Fourth
International as the world party of socialist revolu-tion and claimed
that the Moscow
and Beijing-line Stalinist bureaucracies and parties would be pressured
by the masses into playing a progressive role. On this basis, they set
out to liquidate the Fourth International into whatever Stalinist or
social democratic formation then dominated the labour movement in each
country, declaring that the road to socialism consisted of centuries of
horribly deformed workers' states of the type established in Eastern
Europe and China.
1953 this liquidationism was combatted by the formation of the
International Committee of the Fourth International in response to an
Open Letter issued by American Socialist Workers Party leader James P.
Cannon calling for the defence of "orthodox Trotskyism".
However, by the early 1960s the SWP leaders themselves had increasingly
adapted to the prolonged post-war boom. They hailed the apparent
successes of national bourgeoisie and petty bourgeois elements, such as
Castro in Cuba,
as a substitute for the seizure of power by the working class led by
revolutionary Marxist parties, proclaiming that socialism could be
achieved through such "blunted instruments". This was the
perspective on which they reunified with the Pabloites in 1963 to form
the United Secretariat.
to the Pabloite renunciation of proletarian revolution was the
reactionary objectivist method which presented the struggle for socialism
as a quasi-automatic "historical process" achieved through the
spontaneous movement of the masses led by whatever political tendencies
were at hand, regardless of their class composition and program. Thus the
Indonesian "people" would prevail regardless of the terrible
crisis of leadership produced by the perfidy of the mass Stalinist party.
Sukarno, by now the willing tool of General Suharto, was supposedly
muzzling the most ferocious generals. And, even after its unspeakable
betrayal, Mandel referred to the PKI as a "Communist" party.
snow job was ratified by the "United Secretariat" in a
statement issued on March 20, 1966. Its conclusion was that the emergence
of General Suharto as the "strong man" of the
counter-revolution was of little consequence, because "It is
extremely unlikely that the counter-revolutionists now in power in Jakarta
will be able to stabilise the situation for any length of time." Today,
with Suharto's military junta still riding ruthlessly on the back of Indonesia's
oppressed millions, it is crucial to study how the Pabloite opportunists
provided the essential political cover for the PKI and the Sukarno regime
"United Secretariat" statement sowed the most deadly illusion
that even General Suharto's American-trained killers would be compelled
to act in the interests of the Indonesian masses against imperialism as
part of Sukarno's phoney "confrontation" with the newly-formed
state of Malaysia: "The army leaders themselves will not readily
give up their nationalist, anti-imperialist verbiage which reflects real
conflicts of interest with British imperialism and the ruling comprador
bourgeoisie and semi-feudal landowners of Malaysia."
the Indonesian masses were left leaderless in the face of Suharto's
horrific slaughter, the Pabloites loftily declared their confidence that
somehow the masses would be victorious. "The masses, though
leaderless and deeply shaken, have not lost all fighting potential,
particularly in the countryside. It will prove impossible to get the
thousands of squatters to evacuate the imperialist-owned or
'nationalised' plantations managed by corrupt army officers, or to compel
the thousands of planta-tion and oil workers to revert to the 'normal'
working conditions of colonial times."
all, the Pabloites continued to insist that the masses place their trust
in the Stalinist leaders of the PKI, arguing that they could be convinced
to play a revolutionary role, even after they had strangled every mass
movement against the Sukarno regime. "If they succeed in regrouping
and in regaining a mass following in some regions of the countryside by
calling on the peasants to immediately take over the land held by the
landlords, the plantations and army administration, they could gain on a
progressive scale due to the inability of the Indonesian reaction to
solve the country's basic economic plight and due to the divisions in the
ranks of the army which that inability will undoubtedly provoke."
1957, and again in 1964-65, the PKI had directed workers and peasants to
surrender the factories, banks, oil installations, plantations and other
enterprises they had occupied, saving the day for Sukarno and the
Indonesian bourgeoisie. Now, the Pabloites claimed, they could play a
progressive role. Mandel's article and the "United Secretariat"
statement were published, together with an article by a Pabloite member
of the PKI, by the US Socialist Workers Party in a pamphlet called
"The Catastrophe in Indonesia"
dated December 1966. It was complete with an introduction by Joseph
Hansen, an SWP leader who had played a poisonous role in the 1963
reunification with the Pabloites. Hansen, subsequently exposed as a
Stalinist agent who became an FBI plant in the SWP, was a central
instigator in the SWP's 1963 break from the ICFI. Hansen sought to
reassure the pamphlet's readers that "one of the new features of
world politics today" was "the quickness with which the masses
recover from defeats that formerly would have left them prostrate for
stunning indifference of the Pabloites to the fate of the Indonesian
masses was not simply the product of the callousness and contempt for the
working class which characterises their fetid petty-bourgeois milieu but
was also a bid to cover-up the critical factor in the Indonesian betrayal
the role played by the Pabloites themselves and their Indonesian
representatives. It is a measure of the cynicism of the Pabloites and
their subservience to the Stalinists and the national bourgeoisie that
none of the articles and statements published in the 1966 pamphlet so
much as mentioned the existence of a section of the "United
Secretariat" in Indonesia, let alone explained the part it played in
the events leading up to the coup. There was just one brief appeal for
the legalisation of and release of all members of the PKI, the Partai
Murbah (a social democratic formation) and the Partai Acoma, even though
the Acoma party had relations with the Pabloites at least as early as
1953 and was admitted as a section of the "United Secretariat"
in 1960, just as the American SWP was intensifying its unprincipled
reunification manoeuvres with the Pabloites.
fleeting reference to their own members was a guilty attempt by the
Pabloites to hide the part that they and their Indonesian proteges played
in providing the PKI Stalinists with much-needed credibility throughout
the 1950s and 1960s.
Pabloism emerged in Indonesia
Partai Acoma originated as a breakaway from the PKI in 1948. By falsely
claiming to be Trotskyist, it served to divert and trap working class and
peasant opposition to the support of the PKI for the national bourgeois
regime of Sukarno. Led by an MP, Ibnu Parna, its programmatic documents
presented the PKI as a "Marxist-Leninist party like us." As we
shall show, this was a fraud in relation to both the PKI and the Partai
Acoma. The need for such a fake "Trotskyist" safety valve was
demonstrated by the explosive events of 1948. The collaboration of the
PKI leadership in the post-war administrations headed by Sukarno and
their acceptance of the Indonesian bourgeoisie's rotten agreements with
the Dutch colonialists aroused intense working class opposition.
July 5, 1947 to January 23, 1948 President Sukarno's Republican
adminis-tration was headed by Amir Sjarifuddin who was both Prime
Minister and Defence Minister. Sjarifuddin was a secret member of the
PKI, as was the Deputy Prime Minister and a Minister of State. In
addition, two Ministers of State were open members of the PKI. This
administration signed the Renville Agreement with the Netherlands which
maintained Dutch control of the lion's share of the sugar, rubber,
coffee, tea and oil industries, required the withdrawal of guerrilla
forces from Dutch-occupied territory and provided for the liquidation of
the PKI-led "people's armed units" into the bourgeois
"Indonesian National Armed Forces" controlled by Sukarno and
his generals. Such was the popular opposition to the acceptance of the
US-imposed pact with the Dutch that the government was brought down and
replaced by one headed by right-wing Vice-President Hatta as Prime
then erupted, demanding a parliamentary government. The PKI leadership
supported the suppression of this movement by Sukarno who appealed for
"national unity". When this betrayal was opposed by a section
of the PKI, the PKI leadership responded savagely, executing the leaders
of the opposition faction. Partai Acoma emerged from this dissenting group.
While it opposed the PKI leadership, the Acoma
party maintained that the Indonesian revolution had to be carried out by
the PKI as a "Marxist-Leninist party". Subsequently the Acoma
leaders established contact with the "United Secretariat" which
encouraged their pro-Stalinist positions and illusions in Maoism.
apparent that the Partai Acoma diverted wide layers of workers and
peasants looking for an alternative to the class collaborationist program
of the PKI. From 1953 to 1955, for example, the Acoma's
strength in the 200,000-strong Indonesian Peasants Association (SAKTI)
delayed for two years plans by the PKI leadership to merge SAKTI with two
PKI-controlled peasants' organisations, the RTI and the BTI.
published in February 1958 in the Pabloite journal Quatrieme
International provides a graphic indictment of the role played by
Pabloism in opposing the fight for revolutionary Marxist leadership in
the working class. The article, "The Indonesian Revolution on the
March," by Sal Santen, a close associate of Pablo, was written at
the height of the revolutionary convulsions of December 1957, when
workers and peasants seized control of Dutch and other imperialist-owned
plantations and enterprises.
provided a criminal cover for the counter-revolutionary role of the PKI,
which ordered the masses to hand over their conquests to the military in
order to shore up the Sukarno administration.According to Santen:
"It must be added that the Communist militants, the basic and
average cadres of the PKI and of the SOBSI, the big Indonesian workers'
union organisation, have nothing of the bureaucratic character of Aidit
(Communist Party leader) and Co. They are in front; they are the ones who
took over the initiative in occupying the factories, the plantations, the
banks and the ships. There is no doubt that the most conscious of them
are inflamed by the revolutionary audacity of Tan Malakka, by Leon
Trotsky's ideas of the permanent revolution."
on this perspective, the Indonesian Pabloites politically disarmed the
tens of thousands of workers and peasants who came forward into struggle
only to find their way blocked by the PKI. Just at the point when the
decisive task was to educate the most class conscious elements in the
necessity for an uncompromising struggle against the Stalinist
"two-stage" and "bloc of four classes" line of the
PKI, and the need for a thorough arming with the program of Permanent
Revolution, the Pabloites worked for the opposite.
to the core, they equated Trotsky with Tan Malakka, an early PKI leader
who opposed the plans for a revolt in 1926 and split from the PKI to form
his own organisation. They falsified the Marxist theory of Permanent
Revolution, transforming it from a conscious strategy to guide the
struggles for the dictatorship of the proletariat into a spontaneously
central tenant of Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution is the perfidy
of the national bourgeoisie and their incapacity to lead a real struggle
against imperialism. Only the working class can free the masses from
national and class oppression, by carrying the socialist revolution and
uniting with their class brothers throughout the world in a common
struggle to overthrow imperialism internationally.
struggle can only be undertaken consciously under the banner of the
Fourth International in an uncompromising struggle against the Stalinist
and petty-bourgeois forces, such as the Pabloites, who attempt to disarm
the working class and tie it to its own bourgeoisie. In the hands of the
Pabloites, the program of Permanent Revolution became a justification for
their own adaption to the national bourgeoisie and the Stalinists. The working
class did not need its own revolutionary party to come to power because
the PKI was the instrument through which the Permanent Revolution was
being realised, albeit unconsciously.
Santen, speaking on behalf of Pablo and Mandel, declared:
any case it is clear that the whole of Indonesia
is moving. The march of the masses has become irreversible although
the process remains contradictory and has already reached the stage of dual
power in a good part of Indonesia,
and above all in Java. The occupation of enterprises, of plantations,
of the fleet, and the banks by the masses has only one meaning: It is
a question of the classical beginning of the proletarian revolution. The
Indonesian revolution is in the act of breaking the limits of the
national revolution under a bourgeois nationalist leadership. It develops
according to the laws of the permanent revolution." (Emphasis in
Pabloites held out the prospect of a peaceful transition to "worker
and peasant power":
speedy and almost 'peaceful' victory of the revolution up to worker and
peasant power (above all in Java) was possible, if the PKI, at the first
moment pushed by the spirit of the masses, had not done everything to
castrate the action of the masses by subordinating it to the control of
the Pabloites meant by "worker and peasant power" was
completely opposed to the struggle for the dictatorship of the
proletariat. The Pabloites lined up as cheer leaders for the
counter-revolutionary Stalinist "two-stage" perspective of
demanding that the proletariat give up the struggle for socialist
sanctify their opposition to the independent mobilisation of the working
class and to the forging of a revolutionary proletarian, that is,
Trotskyist, party, the Pabloites insisted that the PKI, despite its
betrayal of the December 1957 occupations, would be pressured to the left
by the masses:
the same time, at each aggravation of the situation, the masses have the
tendency to push the SOBSI and PKI further. A great deal will now depend
on the boldness, on the revolutionary Marxist understanding of the
militants, of the average Communist cadres. We feel completely
solidarised with them, inspired and enthused by their initiatives, by
their boldness which we passionately hope will not stop before the
'taboos' of the Aidits. We salute the Indonesian Trotskyist cadres who
are integrated in the PKI with the correct revolutionary perspective that
the radicalisation of the masses will be realised above all through the
PKI and SOBSI."
was the greatest crime of Pabloism the liquidation of Trotskyist cadre,
and those who were attracted to Trotskyism, into the camp of Stalinism.
added a footnote to emphasise that this treacherous line was advanced in
direct opposition to the struggle waged by the International Committee of
the Fourth International since its founding in 1953 to defend Trotskyism
against Pabloite liquidationism. Santen specifically denounced the ICFI's
fight for the construction of sections of the Fourth International to
defeat counter-revolutionary Stalinism:
contradiction to some sectarian 'orthodox' people, the International does
not let itself be fascinated by the reactionary Stalinist policy, but
orients itself, above all, on the dynamism of the situation itself, a
dynamism that pushes the masses, and through the masses the PKI itself
into contradiction with the present order in Indonesia."
passage should be burned into the consciousness of every worker as the
summation of Pabloism's pro-Stalinist dirty work.
direct struggle against the ICFI, the Pabloites consciously pushed fatal
illusions in the PKI Stalinists, precisely at the point where the burning
question of the hour was to expose the criminal role of the Stalinists
and resolutely fight for a decisive break by the masses from the PKI to
construct a revolutionary Trotskyist leadership.
protracted and implacable struggle waged against the Pabloite
opportunists by the ICFI, which appeared for many years to be a fight
taken up by small isolated forces in the Fourth International, was a life
and death question for millions of Indonesian workers and peasants.
weeks of Santen's lines being penned, the rotten fruits of the PKI's
betrayal of the December 1957 movement began to emerge. A
counter-revolutionary government was formed in Central
Sumatra in February 1958 by coup leader Colonel Achmed
Hussein and headed by Dr Sjafruddin Prawiranegara. This CIA-backed
operation, only possible because of the PKI's disarming of the December
1957 rebellion, was a test run for the bloody coup that was to take place
seven years later.
conscious that this was a dress rehearsal for counter-revolution, the
response of the Pabloites was to intensify their wretched boosting of the
PKI. Quatrieme International's editor added a footnote which
climaxed with the following purple passage:
the 'rebels' main aim is to do away with Sukarno's 'guided democracy' in
which is included the PKI, then any compromise will be at the expense of
the PKI. In this case, the immediate perspective is that the PKI, under
mass pressure, will be obliged, willy nilly, to execute a major policy
about-face as was performed by the Chinese Communist Party in a similar
situation in 1949, and to go past the
bourgeois-nationalist stage of the revolution to the socialist
stage of workers' power. Thus, in fact, but again without
acknowledgement, operating on the basis of, and validifying the Trotskyist
theory of permanent revolution."
the PKI, the hangman of the Indonesian revolution, was depicted as the
unwitting instrument of the Permanent Revolution!
to this was the lie that the Chinese Stalinists, the mentors of Aidit and
the other PKI leaders, had carried through the "socialist stage of
workers' power" in 1949. In fact, the peasant armies of the Maoists
brutally suppressed the proletarian uprising in 1949, murdered the
Trotskyist opposition, and established an extremely deformed workers'
state based on the Stalinist perspective of a partnership with the
national bourgeoisie, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry. This
was indeed the model upon which the PKI leadership based itself.
content with glorifying the Stalinists, the editor's special footnote
then promoted the prospects of the national bourgeoisie undertaking a
progressive transformation as well. It suggested an alternative scenario
premised on the Sukarno government leading a struggle against the
the other event, that the Sukarno government takes a stronger line of
opposition and resistance to the 'rebels,' a further polarisation of all
the bourgeois and semi-feudal counter-revolutionary forces will be seen;
confronting a shadow bourgeois-nationalist government and the masses.
This confrontation of the masses against the new 'slaveholders'
rebellion,' against the new 'Kornilov putsch,' will mean a new upsurge of
the revolution, while the experience of this kind of revolutionary action
by the masses will leave little chance of a relapse to the stability of a
bourgeois nationalist regime."
events of October 1965 were to prove the Sukarno regime to be no less
accommodating to General Suharto's killers than the Kerensky government
was to General Kornilov's coup bid in 1917. Sukarno displayed the essence
of bourgeois nationalism by ending his political career as a puppet
President for Suharto's military junta.
conclusion of the editor's footnote should be inscribed on the tombstone
of Pabloism: "In either case our optimistic perspective is
justified. The Indonesian Revolution is on the march! Its victory as a
socialist revolution is now in gene-ration. (Emphasis in original)
1957 to 1965 the Pabloites internationally perpetrated this objectivist
cover-up of the grave dangers confronting the Indonesian revolution.
work of the Pabloite section in Indonesia
was central to the whole Pabloite world perspective. It was discussed
intensively at the so-called Fifth World Congress of the "United
Secretariat" in 1957.
Fifth World Congress, in discussing the progress and the road of the
world colonial revolution, gave serious attention to the developments in Indonesia.
Recognising the Indonesian situation as pre-revolutionary, it expected a
revolutionary explosion very soon," declared the article by Santen.
The entire Pabloite "United Secretariat" has blood on its
hands. They aided and abetted the Stalinist betrayal of the Indonesian
workers and peasants.
cover up Stalinist treachery
of working class leadership was never posed so sharply as in Indonesia
between 1963 and 1965. The fate of the Indonesian workers and peasants
depended entirely on overcoming and defeating the counter-revolutionary
line of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) which bound the working
class hand and foot to the tottering bourgeois nationalist regime of
Sukarno while the US-backed military prepared for a bloody coup. The PKI
Stalinists, led by general secretary Aidit, repeatedly demanded that
workers and peasants hand back factories and plantations which they had
seized. They then joined the army generals in taking cabinet posts in the
Suharto government and backed the outlawing of workers' strikes.
more it became obvious that the generals were preparing for a bloody
coup, the more the PKI leaders worked feverishly to assure the
bourgeoisie and the military that the PKI opposed the revolutionary
mobilisation of the masses.
repeatedly declared that the state power in Indonesia
did not have to be smashed but could be reformed from within to
"strengthen and consolidate the pro-people's aspect," which
included President Sukarno. The PKI leader gave lectures at army colleges
in which he heralded a "feeling of mutuality and unity that daily
grows strong between all the armed forces of the Indonesian
Republic and the
various groups of Indonesian people, including the communists".
PKI leadership could only advance these positions because the Indonesian
Pabloites were working equally feverishly to prevent workers from
breaking with the Stalinists. They vehemently opposed the construction of
a new revolutionary leadership.
responsibility for the bloody counter-revolutionary consequences of this
line can be traced directly to the 1963 Pabloite Reunification Congress
at which the American Socialist Workers Party consummated an unprincipled
break from the International Committee of the Fourth International and
joined the Pabloite "United Secretariat" of Ernest Mandel.
leading the struggle against Pabloite liquidationism in 1953, the SWP
leaders had in the late 1950s increasingly adapted to the pressure of the
protracted post-war boom and the apparent quiescence of the working
class. They abandoned the struggle for proletarian revolution led by a Bolshevik-type
party and sought "regroup-ment" with petty bourgeois radicals
and disaffected Stalinists. In 1963 they joined hands with the Pabloites
in claiming that not only the Stalinist parties, such as the PKI, but
also the bourgeois nationalist and petty-bourgeois nationalist forces in
the backward countries, such as Castro in Cuba and Sukarno in Indonesia,
could become vehicles for the establishment of socialism.
reunification resolution declared that there was no crisis of
revolutionary leadership in the oppressed countries: "In the
colonial and semi-colonial countries ... the very weakness of capitalism,
the whole peculiar socio-economic structure produced by imperialism, the
permanent misery of the big majority of the population in the absence of
a radical agrarian revolution, the stagnation and even reduction of
living standards while industrialisation nevertheless proceeds relatively
rapidly, creates situations in which the failure of one revolutionary
wave does not lead automatically to relative or even temporary social or
economic stabilisation. A seemingly inexhaustible succession of mass
struggles continues, such as Bolivia
has experienced for 10 years."
other words, no matter how crushing were the defeats and betrayals
inflicted on the masses, they would rise again. There was no need for a
Trotskyist party. The criminal character of this opportunist complacency
was soon to be spelt out in the blood of the Indonesian masses.
1963 conference was based on the rejection of the historical necessity of
building sections of the Trotskyist movement in the backward countries.
The Pabloite resolution declared: "The weakness of the enemy in the
backward countries has opened the possibility of coming to power even
with blunted instruments." In Indonesia,
the "blunted instrument" was to be the PKI.
great betrayal in Sri Lanka
Pabloite treachery in Indonesia
was intimately bound up with the great betrayal in Sri
Lanka in 1964 when the Lanka Sama Samaja
Party (LSSP), the Pabloite organisation, joined the bourgeois coalition
government of Mrs Bandaranaike, together with the Stalinist Communist
Party of Sri Lanka, in order to behead the mass working class movement
against capitalist rule.
LSSP had opposed the formation of the International Committee in 1953 and
subsequently played a central role in preparing the American SWP's
reunification with the Pabloites. Its opposition to the struggle against
opportunism in the Fourth International was rooted in its increasingly
nationalist orientation and abandonment of Trotskyist program and
principles in order to accommodate with the Stalinists and Bandaranaike's
capitalist party, the SLFP, in Ceylon.
Pabloite Reunification Congress of 1963 covered up the LSSP's national
opportunism by claiming that "Our Ceylonese section has
progressively corrected the wrong orientation adopted in 1960 of
supporting the liberal-bourgeois government of the SLFP. Since the masses
began to go into action, it has not hesitated to place itself at their
head against its electoral allies of yesterday." Just one year later
the fake "Trotskyist" credentials supplied by the Pabloites
were used by the LSSP to join the capitalist government.
betrayal by a party hailed by the Pabloites as the "largest
Trotskyist party in the world" had disastrous implications
internationally, first of all in Indonesia.
It strengthened the hand of the Stalinist and Maoist parties, such as the
PKI, whose capacity to suppress and disarm the working class would have
been shattered had the LSSP upheld the program of permanent revolution
and fought for the overthrow of bourgeois rule in Sri
the entry of their Sri Lankan section into the capitalist government in Sri
Lanka alongside the Stalinists, the Pabloites
continued to pursue a very similar pro-Stalinist and pro-national
bourgeois line in Indonesia.
The Pabloites' pamphlet, The Catastrophe in Indonesia, not only
covered up the part played by the Indonesian Pabloite section, the Partai
Acoma, as we exposed in the previous chapter. Even after the bloody coup
the pamphlet continued to promote the prospect of the national
bourgeoisie and the PKI playing a progressive role.
included an article by T. Soedarso, described by US Socialist Workers
Party leader Joseph Hansen in the pamphlet's introduction as a
"young member of the Indonesian Communist party who succeeded in
making his way into exile". Hansen enthusias-tically commended
Soedarso's article as "an indication of the determination of an
important sector of the Indonesian Communist Party to learn from what
happened and to utilise the lessons in such a way as to ensure victory
when the masses again surge forward, as they surely will".
article treated the counter-revolutionary program of the PKI leadership
as a series of "mistakes", including the "errors" of
"seeking to achieve socialism by peaceful means," and of
pursuing a "policy" of a two-stage revolution and a united
front with the national bourgeoisie.
expressed no fundamental differences with the Stalinists, agreeing, for
example, that "The revolutionary movement could and should support
the progressive attitudes or actions of the national bourgeoisie".
If ever proof was needed that the semi-colonial bourgeoisie, personified
by Sukarno, was inherently incapable of a "progressive" program
and would line up behind the slaughter of the working class, the
Indonesian bloodbath provided it. For 18 months Sukarno served General
Suharto's dictatorship as a puppet president, and even after that, from
March 1967, he was retained as a token "president without
Pabloites likewise belittled the significance of the PKI's entry into the
Sukarno NASAKOM coalition government with the military butchers. Soedarso
implored the PKI to reverse this "line," as if it were a mere
virtual apology for this fundamental class treachery was no accident. The
cardinal premise of Pabloism was the reversal of Trotsky's struggle
against Stalinism. The evolution of Stalinism into a counter-revolutionary
bureaucracy was established irrevocably in 1933 when the Stalinist
Comintern, approved, without a single dissenting voice, the betrayal of
the German Communist Party in handing over the German working class to
Hitler without a shot being fired. From that point on Trotsky insisted
that the Third International, following the Second, had passed definitely
into the camp of the bourgeoisie, and that the Fourth International had
to built as the world party of socialist revolution to ensure the continuity
article was a conscious cover-up, organised by Mandel and Hansen, for the
reactionary role of Stalinism. The article deliberately did not use the
word Stalinism, but fraudulently referred to the PKI as
"Communist". And then to make his position crystal clear,
Soedarso concluded: "The above criticism is not intended to
undermine the role of the PKI nor to arouse distrust in Indonesian
a year after the military coup, by which time a million workers and
peasants had perished, the Pabloites were whitewashing the lessons of
1965 and still urging the Indonesian workers and peasants to maintain
their faith in the PKI.
Pabloite 'lessons' of Indonesia
article was not an isolated instance. In fact the line advanced in the
article provided the essential themes for the statement issued on March
20, 1966 by the Pabloite "United Secretariat". Entitled "The
Lesson of Indonesia," it opposed any break from the PKI and
issued no call for the building of a section of the Fourth International.
On the contrary, it declared that the "Indonesian Communists"
could "overcome the results of the present defeat" by
assimilating certain lessons.
first "lesson" was stated as follows: "While it is correct
and necessary to support all anti-imperialist mass movements, and even to
critically support all concrete anti-imperialist measures taken by
representatives of the colonial bourgeoisie like Sukarno, for colonial revolution
to be victorious it is absolutely essential to maintain the proletarian
organisations strictly independent politically and organisationally from
the 'national' bourgeoisie." Not only did the Pabloites continue to
sow the most dangerous illusions in the "anti-imperialist"
pretensions of the national bourgeoisie, their talk of
"independent" proletarian organisations was an utter fraud. The
political independence of the working class could only be forged by
building a Trotskyist party in pitiless and audacious struggle against
the Stalinists whom the Pabloites were trying to resuscitate.
second Pabloite "lesson" claimed that "While it is correct
and necessary during the first phases of the revolution in backward
countries to place the main stress on the problems of winning national
independence, unifying the country and solving the agrarian question
(i.e., the historical tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution which
constitute the most burning tasks in the eyes of 80 to 90 percent of the
population), it is indispensable to understand that the solution of these
tasks is only possible when the working class, in alliance with the poor
peasantry, has conquered leadership of the revolution, establishes the
dictatorship of the proletariat and the poor peasantry and pushes the
revolution through to its socialist phase."
this opportunist line of "two phases," the Pabloites were
trying to breathe new life into the discredited "two stage"
theory of the Stalinists, which demanded that the "socialist
phase" of the revolution be delayed until the completion of the
democratic and national revolution. The Pabloite position was the
opposite of Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution which was based on
the international character of the socialist revolution and the
revolutionary role of the international proletariat. Trotsky emphasised
the essential lesson of the Russian revolution that, in this epoch, the
democratic and national tasks in the backward and oppressed countries
could be achieved only through the proletarian revolution and its
extension on the world scale.
Pabloite call for the "dictatorship of the proletariat and poor
peasantry" sought to revive the "Old Bolshevik" formula of
the "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry"
discarded by Lenin in 1917. Lenin adopted Trotsky's unequivocal position
that the proletariat is the only consistently revolutionary class which
can lead the peasants and carry through the democratic and socialist
tasks of the oppressed nations as part of the struggle of the working
class on a world scale.
third "lesson" advanced by the Pabloites was: "While it is
necessary to win the broadest possible mass base in the countryside, a
revolutionary party capable of applying that policy must be based upon a
hardened proletarian cadre thoroughly trained in Marxist theory and
revolutionary practice." The duplicitous character of this
"lesson" can be seen from the fact that it was oriented toward
the Stalinists. The references to a "hardened proletarian
cadre" and "Marxist theory" were a sham. In fact, the
"United Secretariat" advised the survivors of the PKI
leadership to take the road of rural guerrilla warfare.
statement expressed the hope that "what remains of that leadership
along with the surviving party cadres especially the best educated, those
steeled by the terrible experiences they went through in the past six
months will have taken the road of guerrilla war, if only out of
urged the Stalinists to turn to a peasant-based guerrilla war, aping the
Maoists in China.
Maoism is a variant of Stalinism based on peasant hostility to the
hegemony of the working class. Arising out the defeat of the 1926-27
Chinese revolution and the destruction of the Chinese Communist Party's
working class membership, Mao's turn to the peasantry led to the abortion
of the 1949 Chinese revolution. It produced a highly deformed workers'
state based on Mao's "bloc of four classes" the national
bourgeoisie, the urban petty-bourgeoisie, the peasantry and the working
this very doctrine which guided the determination of the Aidit leadership
of the PKI to prevent a proletarian socialist revolution in Indonesia.
In Aidit's words: "The working class, the peasants, the petty
bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie must unite in one national
Pabloites' pamphlet was a cynical bid to divert class conscious workers
from the most essential lesson of the Indonesian betrayal the necessity
for a Trotskyist party to defeat the Stalinists and their Pabloite accomplices
who function as counter-revolutionary petty-bourgeois agencies within the
mass movement. There was and is only one revolutionary party which can
avenge the betrayal of 1965 by leading the Indonesian workers to power an
Indonesian section of the International Committee of the Fourth
1951 the PKI leadership had set out clearly the path of betrayal it was
to pursue. "In the struggle to realise their political convictions,
the communists will not use force while the ruling class still leaves the
peaceful, the parliamentary way open. If there is the use of force, the
spilling of blood, a civil war, it will not be the communists who start
it but the ruling class itself."
counter-revolutionary perspective was only able to be inflicted on the
Indonesian masses because the Pabloites tied the most class conscious
sections of the working class to the banner and program of the PKI. The
Pabloite betrayals in Sri Lanka
demonstrated the counter-revolutionary character of Pabloism. As the
International Committee of the Fourth International stated in its 1988
perspectives resolution, The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of
the Fourth International,:
the assistance it rendered to Stalinism, social democracy and bourgeois
nationalism, the opportunism of the Pabloite centrists played a vital
role in enabling imperialism to survive the crucial years between 1968
and 1975 when its world order was shaken by economic turmoil and an
international upsurge of the working class and the oppressed masses in
the backward countries. It verified Trotsky's assess-ment of centrism as
a secondary agency of imperialism. The petty-bourgeois defeatists who
pontificate on the doomed character of the proletariat while discover-ing
new vistas for the bourgeoisie never bother to concretely analyse how
decrepit capitalism survived into the 1980s. The Pabloites care least of
all to examine the results of their own policies. Inasmuch as the entire
petty-bourgeois fraternity of centrists, radicals and declassed
intellectuals dismiss a priori the revolutionary capacities of the
working class and accept its defeat as inevitable, they never even
consider what the consequences of a correct Marxist policy would have
been in Sri Lanka in 1964, in France in 1968, in Chile in 1973, and in
Greece and Portugal in 1974.
International Committee, on the other hand, derives from the strategical
experiences of the proletariat during the postwar period the crucial
lesson upon which it bases its preparation for the coming revolutionary
upheavals: that the building of the Fourth International as the World
Party of Socialist Revolution to ensure the victory of the international
working class requires an uncompromising and unrelenting struggle against
opportunism and centrism."
revolutionary leadership must be built to lead the Indonesian masses to
smash the Suharto dictatorship, overthrow the bourgeoisie and throw off
the yoke of imperialist exploitation in the fight for the world socialist
revolution. Against the Stalinists and Pabloites who are preparing
another bloody trap for the masses, an Indonesian section of the ICFI
must be forged to lead this struggle.
1998 by World Socialist Web Site (TM)
article is from Pacific Affairs, 58, Summer 1985, pages 239-264.
Peter Dale Scott is a professor of English at the University
and a member of the advisory board at Public Information Research.
also: "CIA Compiled Indonesian Death Lists in 1965" at
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