I sit here with Bradley Simpson, who has just given a testimonial at the Tribunal about the involvement of some foreign countries , particularly the US, in the bloody events in Indonesia in 1965, and some years after that. Simpson is author of Economists with guns: Authoritarian Development and US-Indonesian Relations, 1960-1968.
Bradley Simpson, you have given a testimony about the complicity of the US government during the bloodbath in Indonesia in the 1960s. What are the important points that you conveyed during your presentation?
The point that I was trying to make was that the US and other western governments had been attempting for more than a year to provoke an armed conflict between the army and the PKI in the hopes that the army would crush the Indonesian Communist Party.
After G 30 S the US government initiated a program of covert operations to support the Indonesian army and encourage it to destroy the PKI. It provided weapons, financial support and political support to the army so that Gen. Soeharto and his allies knew that they had the full support of the US government even if that support was provided covertly because it was politically risky for the US to publicly support the Indonesian army and the generals opposing Sukarno at the time. I also testified that the US was well aware of the killings as they began, and was aware of how many people were being killed as the killings got under way. And that the US did nothing to protest or oppose those killings and in fact provided whatever assistance it could to the Indonesian government or the Indonesian military in order to assits it in destroying the PKI, knowing full well that the assistance it provided was being used by the army to murder unarmed civilians.
How long did this operation take place?
From what we know of the declassified records, the United States began covertly assisting the Indonesian army in late October 1965 as the … who happenned to be supporters or alleged supporters of the PKI or one of its affiliated organizations.
So it’s American money, American weapons and American tacit approval?
Yes. I should emphasize that the material support that the US gave to Indonesia was quite small at the time because it was very risky for the US to openly support the Indonesian army against Sukarno because Sukarno was still the president, the US was not very popular in Indonesia at the time, and so the CIA and the US government generally had to be extremely careful in providing support to ensure that this support did not become public knowledge. Had it become known that the US was supporting the army, this would have discredited the army at the moment that it was seeking to portray itself as the legitimate rulers of the country. And army leaders did not want the US to do anything to endanger their prospects of coming to power. And so this was a very delicate situaiton where the US wanted to give the army the support that it could, without giving it so much support that people would find out, thereby endangering the army in achieving its broader goals of destroying the pki, overthrowing Sukarno and taking power themselves.
I’m sure America was not alone in this. Are there any other countries involved?
Very few countries, actually no country did anything to oppose the killings in any meaningful way. The British government conducted covert propaganda operations in support of the army’s campaign, as did the Australian government. The Japanese government provided financial assistance to the Indonesian army as well as a number of other western governments which provided intelligence support, even the Soviet government