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Indonesia's darkest secret revealed:The truth about the 1965/66 Crimes
 Aug 24, 2012 08:25 PDT 

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*Indonesia's Human Rights Commission reveals the truth about 1965/66
Crimes Against Humanity *

London, 23 August 2012 - For the first time ever, an official body has
revealed the truth about Indonesia’s darkest secret. While official
acknowledgement has taken nearly fifty years to attain, the victims of
one of the worst massacres of the twentieth century now have a glimmer
of hope that justice may finally be done. In July this year,
Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission – Komnas HAM – published
the results of a four year investigation, describing the events of
1965-1966 as ‘a black page in the history of the Indonesian people,’
involving widespread violence on ‘a truly massive scale.’

Survivor Carmel Budiardjo welcomed the report. "I'm elated," said
Budiardjo, who spent three years in prison without trial during
Suharto's rise to power. "I'm just glad that after forty years of
campaigning, I lived long enough to see the truth come out."

In the face of overwhelming political pressure, Komnas HAM’s report
finally tells the true story of those fateful years; the killings, the
torture, the mass arrests, the evictions, the forced disappearances,
the rape and the forced labour. It states that these brutal acts were
carried out with the purpose of destroying the Indonesian Communist
Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI), which was hugely popular in
Indonesia at the time, with a broad following of around 26 million
people, according to the report. Finding ample evidence of ‘crimes
against humanity’ which were ‘widespread’ and ‘systematic,’ the report
reveals the identities of the killers, noting that in legal terms,
they now have nowhere to hide.

The groundbreaking report has shaken Indonesia to its core, and the
political consequences could be far-reaching. According to the
country’s history books and current political discourse, the mass
crimes described in the report never happened. Meanwhile, the advocacy
of Marxism is still illegal in Indonesia and the establishment of
parties or organisations which are suspected of having communist
leanings is prohibited.

Komnas HAM decided to launch it investigations after being approached
by surviving victims and families of victims, going on to interview
349 witnesses in total. The report carefully details what happened,
limiting the range of its investigations to four regions in the
country due to the enormity of the geographical spread of the crimes,
the length of time elapsed, the lack of funds, and the trauma still
experienced by survivors and the families of the victims who died or
were ‘disappeared.’

The investigations make it clear that the perpetrators of these crimes
were members of the Indonesian armed forces and that they were acting
on the basis of orders issued by KOMPAKTIB, the Command for the
Restoration of Security and Order. The commander of this unit was
Suharto, who seized power from President Sukarno in late 1965 and
whose ‘New Order’ remained in power for more than three decades, until
the middle of 1998.

While the report only investigated four specific areas of Indonesia,
it details over 240,000 victims who were killed, enslaved, detained,
tortured, raped, starved and disappeared. While the report makes no
attempt to extrapolate from this the total numbers of those killed and
affected during the six months from October 1965 to March 1966, it is
clear that long-standing estimates of 500,000–1,000,000 people killed
in the massacres are, if anything, extremely conservative.

The investigation found that people were rounded up in vast numbers,
arrested without warrants, subjected to torture and mal-treatment and
in many cases dispatched to prisons and work camps, remaining in
prison for up to ten years. The allegation against these people was
that they were ‘involved’ – terlibat – in an incident on 1 October
1965 when six generals were kidnapped and killed in Jakarta, the
so-called G30S movement. According to the witness testimonies, many
people were slaughtered and their bodies disposed of in rivers, dumped
in caves or simply left lying in public places, unburied. There were
also many who died as the result of untreated injuries or from
starvation caused by of the denial of basis foodstuffs.

Members of Komnas HAM travelled to all the districts that were
selected for investigation, in order to speak to local people and to
see for themselves the places that were used to incarcerate people,
not only prisons but buildings such as schools, church halls and the
offices of Chinese organisations. Their findings state the estimated
death tolls in these places, amounting in many cases to hundreds of

The thoroughness of their investigations is clear from the level of
detail in their report about the places where people were held and
what happened to them, how while being interrogated, they were beaten
and tortured by army officers, subjected to vicious body blows,
beatings on the head with crude implements such as blocks of wood,
whippings and sexual assaults including rape.

The report also makes it clear that ‘crimes against humanity’ fall
under the rubric of universal jurisdiction, on the principle that
there is no safe haven anywhere in the world for the perpetrators and
moreover that according to the Rome Statute on the Establishment of an
International Criminal Court, adopted on 17 July 1998, the statute of
limitations does not apply in the case of such crimes.

In its recommendations, it states that those responsible for these
crimes, including the commander of KOPKAMTIB who established the
policy and local military or police officers who were the perpetrators
in the regions, should be called to account. It calls on the Attorney
General to ‘follow through the results of its investigations with its
own investigation,’ adding that the matter may also be handled through
‘non-judicial mechanisms in order to comply with the sense of justice
of the victims and their families.’

TAPOL congratulates Komnas HAM for having undertaken these
investigations and calls on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to take
all necessary measures to follow through these ground-breaking
investigations and end the impunity which has prevailed for so long in
Indonesia. While President Suharto died without ever facing justice,
many of the killers are still at large. They must be brought to justice.

The unofficial TAPOL translation of the report’s Executive summary is
available on our website:


The original Indonesian version is also available on our website:

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