History, Memory and Remembrance: a Perspective from  the Victims 

by: Bedjo Untung*



Firstly I would like to thank deeply for the opportunity given to me to speak in front of you – the historians, scientists, academicians, historio-graphers, Human Rights activists, experts –   in the most honorable forum – the Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.

I am the Victim of the 1965 affair. At that time I was  a Senior High School  student, a member of Indonesian Youth Students Association that was supposed to be under the umbrella of Indonesian Communist Party, I was captured, detained, interrogated, tortured, stripnaked and sent to Tangerang  force labour camp –  approximately 26 kilometres westward away from Jakarta. During in the detention I lived in a worse condition, not enough food and worst  sanitation.

I was sick of malnutrition. Most of the political detainees around 2000 prisoners  were dying of hunger and  starvation. I had to find extra food such as eating rats, snakes, insects, snails and wild plantation just only to survive.  I was detained for 9 years (1970 – 1979) without judicial process.


Unbelievable Affair

It was like a nightmare. Nobody will predict the worst thing happen in 1965. As Indonesian people I believe that President Sukarno the first president of the Republic of Indonesia will lead the nation to be prosperous country, justice for all what so call socialism. Sukarno was a popular president who would like to build the world anew, the world that is free of exploitation de lhome par lhome and exploitation der nation par nation. He strengthened the solidarity of the people of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Even, he was brave enough to say “ Go to Hell with your Aid”. It was stated to encounter the United States of America imperialism. Just before the 30 September 1965 the people, students, labors union in Jakarta made a big rally  – demonstration to  refuse the foreign capital investment.

Not only that, Sukarno was also declared to withdraw the membership of Indonesia  from  the United Nations Organisation and developed  the Conference of the New Emerging Forces in Jakarta.

The plan of Sukarno was supported by Indonesian Communist Party – the third largest Communist party in the world after Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China.

Of course, it made the US imperialism was upset. Through CIA  Central  Intelligence Agency of the US imperialism made an effort to make a plot to destroy Indonesia. Its intelligence spied the territory of Indonesia to collect data to prepare direct attack to Indonesia. An armed forces of PRRI/PERMESTA  the separatist – that would like to separate from Indonesia was backed up by US military weapon. The US Spy Air Force piloted by Allan Pope was shot down by Indonesian Air Force.

Again, a plot to kill Sukarno was designed by Moslem fundamentalist which would like to develop an Islamic State. Sukarno was shot down when he attended the School Inauguration Day at the Cikini, Jakarta Basic School as well as in the Idhul Adha Prayer. Both failed. Sukarno saved from the assassination.

Learning from the failure, CIA then changed the strategy not to use direct target to kill Sukarno but to let the Indonesian Communist Party – as the militant supporters of Sukarno –  made their mistakes by themselves  then destroy them as a step forward to topple down Sukarno. The plan was succesfully  done.

On March 23, 1965 just 6 months or 191 days before the affair of 1965 exploded, high rank  CIA officers had a meeting in its head base camp Bagio City, Manila, Filipine. They were Averrel Harriman – Military Intelligence, retired Officer of Second World War OSS Office Stategy Study, William Bundy, Elsworth Bunker – negotiator of Peace Keeping on West Irian case, and Howard P. Jones – USA Ambassador in Indonesia for 7 years.

The meeting was very important and had a deciding conclusion on the political gesture for Indonesia. They got direct order from Johnson the President of USA as Chairman of the NSC National Security Council.

Shortly, the decision is to trap Indonesian Communist Party to make their mistakes by themselves then crash them.  [Interview with Leutnant Colonel  Heru Atmodjo  Indonesian Air Force Intelligence http://bingkaimerahindonesia.blogspot.com/2009/10/sumbang-tapi-benar-kesaksian-1-oktober.html]


Mass Killing Everywhere

The killing of  six generals and one middle-ranking officer of the Army in the early hours of October 1, 1965 by a group of Presidency Military Guards is the starting point for blaming PKI  as scapegoat, the mastermind behind the murder of the generals.

Black propaganda launched soon. Facts and data were darkened. The press is controlled by the army. All newspapers are banned. The only newspapers are permitted are Angkatan Bersendjata (Armed Forces  Newspaper)  and Berita Yudha (War News) as the official mouthpiece of the army. The following action is crushing the entire PKI followers and  the supporters of its mass organizations. It took place throughout  Indonesia. The mass murder of people accused as Communists began. Arresting, detention, torture, imprisonment, rape, looting everywhere. This political violence and mass violations of human rights are known and designed by  the army. An estimated are 500 thousand to 3 million people were killed  in the  tragedy of 1965/1966. The destruction of the PKI was really an in between target. The main target is to overthrow Sukarno himself.


Investigation of  YPKP 65

Since the establishment of  YPKP 65 (Indonesian Institute for the Study of 1965/1966 Massacre) in 1999, the Institute is  committed to make a research, investigate  and find facts and evidence to prove that there are  genocide in various regions across Indonesia by the army.
In the  research, YPKP 65 visited various areas, among others: Medan (North Sumatra), Bukittinggi, Painan, Padang Pariaman (West Sumatra), Pakanbaru (Riau), Palembang (South Sumatra), Lampung, Balikpapan, Argosari (East Kalimantan), many  Cities in West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java and Bali.
The Result of the investigations are: There is no evidence of what is often exposed by the military  rulers that  PKI set a rebellion. There is no concentration of PKI members to take the fight against the authority. There is no weapons found  against the government. The real evidence is, PKI obey the instruction  of President Sukarno, not to fight. The members of PKI themselves come to report to the army  forces camps. But, from the detention barracks, members of the PKI were  kidnapped and murdered.

YPKP 65 found at least 122 sites of mass-graves/location for mass killing  with total 13.999 people murdered. These amounts are still temporary due to  the reports from  the institution branches are still going on. Here are the lists:



Centra Java :  50 sites  – 5.543  persons

Yogyakarta :   2 sites  –   757  persons

East Java  : 28  sites  –  2.846  persons

West Java :   3  sites  –   115  persons

Banten  :    1  site  –     200  persons

North Sumatera  :    7  sites  –  5.759  persons

West Sumatera  :  21  sites  –  1.988  persons

Riau Archipelago :    5  sites   –    173  persons

South Sumatera :   2  sites   –  2.150  persons

Bali Island :   1  site   –     11  persons

Kalimantan Timur :     1  site        –

Sulawesi :   1  site      –


Total :  122  sites   –   13.999  persons  (killed)


The above report is a summary. The complete report has been delivered to the Commission of Human Rights and the Coordinator Minister of Politic, Law and Security on May 2016.

YPKP 65 has ever exhumed the mass  grave in Wonosobo Central Java, found 21 skeletons. It was facts that the mass killing in 1965-66 and the following years  is true and undeniable.

Unfortunately, the process of excavation is now hindered by administrative  procedure so that  since then no intention to dig anymore.

The Research of YPKP 65 also reinforce the results of the investigation of the National Commission on Human Rights for the  Tragedy of 1965-66 Massacre. There are  9 elements of serious Human Rights violations, namely: murder, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention, forced labor / slavery, mass rape, forced setlement, the plunder, restriction of freedom / freedom of expression. The element of ethnic cleansing is not found. However, in the tragedy of human rights violations of 1965/66 massacre, there are elements of the genocide, the destroying of a certain group of people who has different belief or ideology. The conclusion is, the tragedy of 1965-66 is a gross violation of Human Rights, a crime against humanity.

YPKP 65 also supported the Final Verdict of the International People’s Tribunal in Den Haag that was broadly announced on July 20, 2016. The tragedy of 1965/66 and the following years especially  in the reign of dictatorship Suharto  is a Crime against Humanity and also Genocida.


Stigma and Terrorize 

Until this moment the formerly political detainees are still bear stigmas and discrimination. Although they are old and do not have power to move, the military still put them under control. Every time the victims arranged such gathering, meeting to discuss their problem, the military always come to monitor even hearing what the victims talk. When the victims would visit seminar or conference in Jakarta, the military officer come and make  pictures of us.

In August 2015, a National Meeting of the Victims arranged by YPKP 65  due to be held in the Central Java city of Salatiga was postponed following death threats against organising committee members.

In April 2016 the Travelling and Seminar of YPKP 65 that will be held in Cianjur also be banned by intolerant  organisations. The threats came from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic Defenders Guard (GPI). YPKP 65 members had also been approached by an intelligence officer from the national police urging them to postpone the event.

The discussion arranged by the victims sometimes was banned. Although we just  want to talk about medical/psychological treatment launched by the Institution of the Protection for Victims and Witnesses. As we know based on the law  the Victims have right to get protection and medical care.

The latest is  when  I became  a key-note speaker at the discussion arranged by the students of Malang Islamic University on September 29, 2016, it is unavoidably banned by the intelligence guard. Fortunately, the students hurrily evacuated me to a safe place.


Recommendation  of the National Commission of Human Rights

YPKP 65 and the Victims welcome happily  the Commission Recommendation on July 23, 2012 because this could be the entering point to resolve the case of 1965 tragedy  after almost half a century of being pent-up. However, on November 2012  the  Attorney General Office returned the files of the Commission to restore the investigation reports  for reasons that are not relevant, for instance the question on  whether the witness was sworn or not. In addition, the Attorney General questioned the administrative completeness of the letter, etc.

The Commission then made correction on the files. Afterward  on December 2012 the Commissioner sent them  back to the Attorney general. Again,  on the first week of January  2013 the Attorney General returned  the files back to the Commissioner, asked the Commissioner should  add the additional testimony of  the witnesses  who can be a suspect  that  are most responsible on the gross violation of 1965/66 massacre.

The  Human Rights Commissioner Team of Investigation on 1965-66 Case has worked since June 1, 2008 until April 30,2012. During its inquiry, they investigated 349 witnesses from many regions in Indonesia except Papua. They concluded that the 1965-66 Case is a gross violation against Human Rights whom military command, military institution such as Kopkamtib (Operational Commandos for Security and Safety), Laksusda (Region Special Operational Body), Kodam (Military District Commando), Kodim (Military Sub District Commando), Koramil ( Military Rayon Commando) should be responsible on the violation of Human Rights of 1965-66 Case.

It is important to establish an Ad Hoc Human Rights Court as mandated by Law Nr. 26 Year 2000 of Human Rights Court.
The Recommendation also asked the Attorney General to prosecute the perpetrators.
In accordance with the provisions of Article 47 Paragraph (1) and (2) of Law Nr. 26 Year 2000 of Human Rights Court, the fulfillment of serious Human Rights violations of 1965-66 tragedy  can also be resolved through non-judicial mechanism.



Although the Recommendation of the Commission has been published and submitted to the Attorney General Office, which gave a slight hope as an entering point to solve the case. However the road is still winding and get many obstacles.

The former civilian and military officials in the New Order regime are now upset, rushing to reject the recommendations. The former military leaders, mass organizations leaders who  were involved in the violence of 1965 massacre began to be  panic and fear.

It seems that the government of Republic of Indonesia  does not have political will and courage to take the immediate  decision to solve this case. The  victims are aware of that condition. As a matter of fact that the current government is still supported by  political machine which  involved in the 1965-66 violence. They are the heirs of Suharto’s New Order regime. The perpetrators are still taking power. They don’t want to strengthen  Human Rights  and Democracy.
A set of laws that are not for the sake of the  people were established like the State Intelligence Law of Indonesia, Mass Organizations Law, the National Security Act, etc.., While the Law of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC-Act) which is expected to become a tool of truth-seeking and justice for the victims, were  abandoned, not immediately addressed.



Despite opportunities almost closed, but civil society and victims organizations continue their struggle  to discover a breakthrough.

The Institution of YPKP 65 conducted meetings of the victims  to arise their spirit to survive. The meetings also invite the testimony of the victims, make a public hearing. This kind of program is very necessary as a psychological treatment of victims’ trauma.

On some special events, YPKP 65  together with coalition of civil societies organizations arrange such memorial ceremony: praying at some mass graves sites, rally to the State Palace wearing black suits and  black umbrellas, urging President to take action for victims rights.

Campaign at national and international level through media like newspapers, televisions, Online, etc.
Grassroots models of reconciliation, according to local wisdom, for example: Ruwatan  (special ceremony, mourn prayer, reading holy al Quran followed by public community with a hope that evil spirit may not disturb the people)

Making Data Base of Involuntary enforced Disappearances, extrajudicial killing, identifying  mass grave sites, places of torture, recording true  stories of victims. Those would be  important for documentation on reports to International Tribunal.

If the Court of the  Republic of Indonesia does not have ability  to prosecute the Gross Violation of Human Rights especially on the case of 1965-66 tragedy, the final solution then, we will bring these case to International Tribunal, United Nation Working Group on Involuntary Enforced Disappearances, UN Human Rights Council, and other international legal mechanism.


What Do the Victims Desire 

Where Is Their Dignity?  How can a nation walk into its future when dark spots of its history remain hidden behind a smoke screen?

The Indonesian national trauma of the 1965-66 massacres has never been resolved. Until today, no justice has been done to the victims,  they and their families still live under a stigma perpetuated by those in the corridors of power.

The aims  of the victims is simple, we ask the recognition that the authority has made mistake of abusing Human Rights.  Let’s establish the truth based on the facts about the violence of 65/66, seek acknowledgement, rehabilitation and justice for the victims, ultimately leading to reconciliation. 

Not too complicated, really, what the victims desire. We just want clarity, legal certainty, and the recognition by the State on that violations of Human Rights that have been committed by the authority. We need to know where our families were kidnapped. Truth-seeking process should be done. In order to  get justice,  an Ad Hoc Human Rights Court should be established. This is to give lessons and deterrence for perpetrators, so that such violation will not happen again.
The  Humanitarian Tragedy of 1965/66 Massacre is not merely Human Rights violations  or crimes against humanity, but also as a political crime as well. Therefore, it needs to be resolved by a political solution. President should  immediately issues a presidential decree containing the comprehensive settlement of 1965/66 cases with all its aspects. Restoring victims’ rights, giving reparation, rehabilitation and compensation. The President as Head of the State should make apology  to the victims.


International  Pressure
There were  obviously seen that the West Countries  take huge advantages and profits  over rising militaristic  New Order Regime in Indonesia. Billions dollars of capital investment, dredging mining, looting of natural wealth, all of those are explored  and absorbed  for the benefit of Western  Countries. While the Victims of 1965 have become martyr of the Nation, for the prosperity of Western Countries and the corrupted Generals and Government officers as well.

Now, it  is   time, the International Community to increase the pressure over  the government of Indonesia. Will they allow Indonesia’s wallowing with crimes against humanity? Indonesia should be punished for disobedience toward Human Rights and Democracy.

Jakarta November 12, 2016

Bedjo Untung
Chairman of YPKP 65


*) This paper is the abstraction material for the material of International Conference  Indonesian History With 1965: Facts, Rumors  & Stigma  November 10 – 12, 2016 arranged  by  Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.