Source : Malaysia Kini, 23/07/16

By Kua Kia Soong*

After more than 50 years of silence in the routinised world of diplomacy, the International Tribunal at the Hague has found Indonesia guilty of crimes against humanity in the 1965 genocide and the US, UK and Australia complicit in these heinous crimes.

The Tribunal report estimates that over 400,000 people were murdered in 1965 anti-communist purges. The panel, presided over by head judge Zak Yacoob, a former South African Constitutional Court Justice, held a four-day hearing in the Hague in November last year.

The judges concluded that the Suharto regime had carried out “inhumane, ruthless torture, unjustifiable imprisonment and forced labor that might well have amounted to enslavement… evidence of systematic sexual violence, political persecution and exile, and disappearances of thousands who were thought not to support the Suharto dictatorship with sufficient fervour.”

The report also states that the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Australia were fully aware of what was taking place in Indonesia and were complicit to varying degrees.

According to the judges, the US supported the Indonesian military “knowing well that they were embarked upon a programme of mass killings,” and the UK and Australia repeated false propaganda from the Indonesian army, even after it became “abundantly clear that killings and other crimes against humanity were taking place.”

Public intellectuals vindicated

This has finally vindicated what public intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, ES Herman, Peter Dale Scott, John Pilger and others have written about since the genocide occurred. The CIA itself has called this genocide “one of the worst mass murders of the twentieth century”, (Peter Dale Scott, Pacific Affairs, 58, Summer 1985, pages 239-264.)

US 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 US Ambassador Jones later called PKI (Partai Komunis Indonesia) “carnage”.

Among other CIA tactics, Chomsky and Herman had written: “Army-inspired anti-Chinese programs that took place in West Java in 1959 were financed by US contributions to the local army commander”; apparently CIA funds were used by Colonel Kosasih to pay local thugs in “the army’s (and probably the Americans’) campaign to rupture relations with China.” (Noam Chomsky and ES Herman, ‘The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism’ (Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1979), p 206)

The 1965 bloodbath in Indonesia was sparked by a failed coup and the murder of a number of generals in the military. General Suharto blamed the coup on communists and the ousted president Sukarno, the country’s first post-independence leader, and the genocide ensued. Suharto assumed the presidency in 1967 and ruled Indonesia until 1998. Military death squads targeted not only communists but ethnic Chinese, or anyone with left wing views.

Indonesians exhilarated over May 13 incident in Malaysia

In my 2007 title, ‘May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969’, I noted the racist views by the Counsellor of the Indonesian Embassy imparted to the New Zealand High Commissioner, when the former was revelling in the imposition of “Malay domination” after the “slaughter on May 13” and the fact that “the Chinese would be held firmly down”.

We also discovered from the British High Commission documents that the only foreign leader to have sent a congratulatory note to the new Malaysian regime under Abdul Razak Hussein after May 13 was General Suharto: “Moerdani’s (Counsellor, Indonesian Embassy) views on the Chinese were, as one might expect, pretty basic… It was essential Malaysia should put the Chinese in their place… Indonesia had been able to deal with its Chinese fairly easily because they were so much in the minority. This was not the case in Malaysia.

“He said he did not think there would be a Chinese backlash as a result of the slaughter on May 13 – they were practical people and they knew who had the guns. Nor did he think Chinese political pressures would build up in the face of a new Malay Malaysia – once they realised who was master they would turn docilely to their primary interest in making money.” (Confidential memo from British HC to Foreign and Colonial Office, June 27, 1969, quoted in Kua Kia Soong, 2007:106)

Indonesian government must apologise and compensate survivors

The judges in the Tribunal have recommended the Indonesian government apologise to victims and their families, investigate the crimes against humanity, and ensure any survivors receive appropriate compensation. The US bears responsibility for paying reparations to the families of victims of the 1965 genocide. In one of its recommendations, the panel of judges of the IPT has also urged the Indonesian government to probe and prosecute all of the perpetrators.

Since 1965, Indonesia’s security forces have also committed atrocities in Timor Leste and continue to do so in West Papua against West Papuans who have been demonstrating for their right to self-determination. Last October, security officials forced the cancellation of sessions addressing the 1965 massacres at an international writers’ festival in Bali.

The US and Indonesia must release all their classified records concerning the crimes committed in 1965 and all those responsible for the atrocities must be held accountable for these serious crimes.

Asean Human Rights Commission must address genocide

The Asean Human Rights Commission must respond to these findings by the International Tribunal on the 1965 genocide in Indonesia and make recommendations. And in the light of the occurrence of the 1965 genocide in Indonesia, the 1969 pogrom in Malaysia and the atrocities committed by the military juntas in Burma and Thailand, the Asean Human Rights Commission also needs to ensure that adequate human rights safeguards and sanctions are in place in Asean to ensure that such atrocities are never allowed to happen in any of the Asean countries ever again.

  • DR KUA KIA SOONG is Suaram adviser.