Subject: Release in English Nø 1
Date sent: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 05:16:55 +0700

Indonesian Institute for the Study of the 1965/966 Massacre
(Yayasan Penelitian Korban Pembunuhan 1965/1966 - YPKP)
Jalan Kalibesar Timur no.3, Jakarta Barat 11110, Indonesia
PO BOX 4923 JKTF 11049 Tel (62-21) 6930324 and 5483800
E-mail :
Release in English Nø 1



This report is part of a worldwide campaign to publicize the activities of the Indonesian Institute for the Study of the 1965/1966 Massacres (in Indonesian, Yayasan Penelitian Korban Pembunuhan 1965/1966, abbreviated as YPKP). The aim of the Institute is to contribute to current efforts to restore the truth about the Indonesian massacres of 1965/1966, when between two to three million innocent people were wantonly slaughtered by military forces or military recruited forces, all of which were led by General Suharto. The Institute is dedicated to breaking the silence about the massacres, a silence imposed and assiduously maintained for more than 30 years by Suharto's military regime.

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Since its founding in Jakarta in April 1999, the Institute has conducted an exhumation of a mass gravesite near Wonosobo, Java. The exhumation took place from November 16 to November 18, 2000.

To fulfill the demands made by members of the victim?s families to honor the dead by burying them properly according to religious customs, the Institute launched its first exhumation. The President of the Institute, Mrs. Sulami, 74 years old, has stated on many occasions that researching the 1965/1966 massacres is done with the intention to facilitate a sense of justice among the members of the victims? families. By facilitating this sense of justice through the restoration of historical truth, the Institute has as its final goal, the creation of the conditions necessary for national reconciliation. The exhumation of mass gravesites is a first step in this process. Mrs. Sulami has repeatedly underscored the fact that this endeavor was carried out in the full spirit of humanitarian service. The Institute was led to this particular site in Central Java because its Department of Research received information that numerous individuals were summarily executed by the military in a forest near Wonosobo.

Historical importance of the exhumation

In consideration of the historical importance of the exhumations, certain preparatory steps were taken. The entire operation of the exhumation was coordinated by the head of the Legal Department of the Institute (Ester Jusuf SH, lawyer), and a team of forensic experts led by Dr. Handoko of the Medical Faculty of the University of Indonesia were recruited. In so doing, the Institute ensured that both the legal and the scientific aspects of the operation were handled with the utmost integrity, so that the findings can be relied upon for wide future use by historians, academics, journalists and everyday citizens.

The exhumation of the graves in Wonosobo, recognized as merely the beginning of an ongoing long term project of the Institute, was carried out with the approval of the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas Ham) in Jakarta, which is recognized by the Indonesian government. With the Commission's official support, the exhumation benefited from the co-operation of local authorities (civilian, governmental, the army and the police), in addition to the co-operation of several sectors of the local community. To assist in providing security during the exhumation, a contingent of 15 persons was sent by an Islamic youth organization (Banser), as well as 15 persons from a youth guard of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-P).

The participation of these various individuals and organizations, demonstrates a spirit of cooperation, support, and coalition that has been unprecedented and was simply unthinkable during the long period of Suharto's military regime, when to even speak of the slaughters of 1965 and 1966, was taboo and punishable by imprisonment.

Results beyond the fixed target

The exhumation of the graves during those three days proved that in the years of 1965/1966, the Indonesian army wantonly massacred many innocent people. According to the Institute?s research, the victims of the massacres in Central Java were men and women from all walks of life: government officials, teachers, activists and members of trade unions, youth organizations, women?s organizations, peasant unions and student associations.

Dr. Handoko, who led the forensic team, determined that the bullets lodged into the skeletons were fired from long and short rifles, which were the type of firearms used by the army at that time.

On the first day of exhumation, the crew unearthed seven skeletons; one of them was female and was found with a plastic comb and a kind of scarf around the neck. On the second day another 10 skeletons were unearthed, one of which still wore a wedding ring engraved with the name of his bride (Sudjijem) and their wedding date of 28 June 1965. On the third day, another 7 skeletons were discovered, bringing the total of exhumed victims to 24. Since the sites unearthed represent only a part of the forest?s terrain, there is a great likelihood that more skeletons will be found later. Due to the Institute?s financial limitations, the exhumation was halted after three days.

In order to protect the sites of the graves, fences were built and locked with chains. As soon as funds are made available, this project will continue, with the exhumation of other graves scattered in many places of the country.

Historical importance of the exhumation of Wonosobo. Because of the historical importance of this event, films and photos documented the exhumation. Representatives of the local government and the press were present during the operation, and every day hundreds of people arrived by cars and trucks from villages and cities both near and far.

The exhumation of the graves near Wonosobo is the first crucial part of the Institute?s ongoing efforts to provide legal proof that crimes against humanity were perpetrated in 1965/1966 by the Indonesian military. The mass killings in Indonesia was one of the most barbaric acts of the twentieth century, when between two and three million alleged communists were slaughtered by the army, as well as by certain elements of society which were manipulated by the army. Unlike former Nazi Germany, Indonesia as a nation and as a people has not dealt with this wholesale state sanctioned slaughter. As a direct consequence of the mass killings and the attendant state terrorism exercised by the military regime of Suharto, millions of the victims? families have suffered lasting intense psychological trauma. For more than 30 years, these relatives and family members have not even been able to freely air their grievances.

The activities of the Institute, which aim to restore the historical truth about the massacres in 1965/1966, will certainly contribute to the correction of the official history, which was a carefully constructed set of lies presented by the New Order government of Suharto for decades. The manipulation and flagrant misrepresentation of historical facts was just one of various and devious means used by the military regime to maintain its rule. The falsification of the historical facts concerning the massacres of 1965 and 1966 by the Suharto regime has indoctrinated the minds of many people, especially the young generation (in this aspect, it is similar to Pinochet?s appropriation of Chile?s history surrounding Allende?s murder as well as the subsequent national trauma which resulted from Pinochet?s state of siege). Due to the Suharto regime?s success in manipulating this massive falsification of history, democratic life in Indonesia was completely incapacitated.

The necessity of actions of international solidarity

Despite its recent inception, the Institute has already made significant achievements. It is organized with a number of departments (Department of Research, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Historical Studies, Department of Network Agencies and Department of Public Relations). Nevertheless, due to the limitations of its budget, many of the Institute?s departments are not able to function in their full breadth and capacity. Many of the Institute?s activities, especially in the field, are carried by persons who willingly offer voluntary but occasional help.

The scope of the Institute?s activities has developed very rapidly, thanks to the enthusiastic response from people throughout Indonesia, who believe that the process of national reconciliation, must begin by first addressing, as a nation, the massacres of 1965/1966.

Further, this willingness to assist the Institute reflects the needs of many people, especially among the relatives of the victims, to express their longing for justice and the restoration of truth about the events in 1965. The participation of many people in the Institute?s activities stimulates the needed growth of Indonesia?s consciousness that the events of 1965 must never happen again.

However, due to the pervasive indoctrination of Indonesian society for more than 30 years by Suharto?s military regime, the Institute still faces many obstacles. The Institute desperately needs the funds to continue its work. International support and solidarity are urgently needed, and in this context, the appeal for urgent action issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission, as well as the co-operation demonstrated by the foundation France Libert‚s, presided by Mrs. Danielle Mitterrand, are of paramount importance.

We in Indonesia are at a crucial and critical juncture in our nation?s history. As a nation, it is imperative that we face the truth of our history with respect to the massacres of 1965/1966. We need help to continue the vitally important work of the Institute, to help ensure that the events of 1965 are brought to light and prevented from ever happening again.

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Notes : Many thanks for your help in diffusing this document. We welcome any positive remark and suggestion about the aim and activities of the Institute. The support of the international opinion will constitute a great contribution to the accomplishment of our mission.
Please send your support by E-mail to
or to our postal address mentioned above.

delivered by Suharno


HAK CIPTA © 1996 - 2000 -
Pengelola : Dr. Willy R. Wirantaprawira, LL.M., Ph.D.