The Pancasila monument in Jakarta is dedicated to the military leaders who were murdered in the supposed 1965 coup attempt blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Up to a million PKI members were massacred in a pogrom against Indonesian communists in the year after that, which paved the way for the rise of former president Suharto's New Order regime. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak)

Fifty Years On, Indonesia Urged to Address Abuses of 1965


SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

Jakarta. Fifty years after the bloodbaths of the mid-1960s, authorities in Indonesia continue to ignore the suffering of millions of victims and their relatives, Amnesty International said in a press release on Wednesday.

“Five decades is far too long to wait for justice for one of the worst mass killings of our era," said Papang Hidayat, Amnesty International’s Indonesia researcher. "Across Indonesia, victims of the 1965 and 1966 events and their family members have been left to fend for themselves, while those suspected of criminal responsibility walk free,” he added in the press release.

“Indonesian authorities must put an end to this injustice once and for all. Today’s anniversary must be the starting point for a new era where crimes of the past are no longer swept under the carpet.”

The 1965-66 anti-communist purges in Indonesia -- led by the military and supported by Western powers -- left hundreds of thousands and possibly over a million people dead. Countless others faced torture, arbitrary detention and often both.

The deadly campaign was triggered by a failed coup attempt on Sept. 30, 1965 and ushered in the New Order regime led by Suharto, who was to rule Indonesia until his downfall in 1998.

Since then, Indonesia has gone through a process of democratization that was largely successful but thus far the country has failed to address most rights abuses from the New Order period, including those of the mid-1960s.

"A chilling culture of silence has prevailed in Indonesia where even discussing the killings of 50 years ago has been largely impossible for victims, let alone demanding the reparation or access to truth and justice that they are entitled to under international law," Amnesty said in Wednesday's press statement.

“Far too many brave activists and survivors have faced harassment, intimidation and threats to expose the mass crimes of 50 years ago. Authorities must start listening to the human rights community, not suppressing their voices,” Papang said, calling on President Joko Widodo to "ensure that the past is no longer forgotten."

"This is a country that is quickly emerging as a regional leader," he said. "It must take this position seriously and set an example when it comes to justice, truth and reparations."