President Joko Widodo and first lady Iriana Joko Widodo during a visit to the Pancasila Sakti Monument in Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta. The monument commemorates the victims of the 30 September incident, which sparked the 1965-66 anti-communist purge. (Antara Photo/M. Agung Rajasa)

International People's Tribunal Declares Indonesia Responsible for 1965-1966 Mass Killings


JULY 21, 2016

Jakarta. The International People’s Tribunal in the Hague declared on Wednesday (20/07) that Indonesia was responsible for committing crimes against humanity during the 1965-1966 mass killings which killed between 500,000 to one million suspected communists.

The military-backed purge against Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and their sympathizers paved the way for the rise of former President Suharto's New Order regime.

The final verdict of an international panel of judges stated Indonesia must be held accountable for ten gross human rights violations that happened in 1965-1966, including genocide against members, followers and sympathizers of the PKI and supporters of President Soekarno as well as members of the Indonesian National Party, or PNI.

“The State of Indonesia is responsible for and guilty of crimes against humanity consequent upon the commission and perpetration, particularly by the military of that state through its chain of command, of the inhumane acts,” presiding judge Zak Yacoob stated in the final report released on Wednesday.


Besides mass killings, the other gross human rights violations committed by the state according to the tribunal were destruction, imprisonment, slavery, torture, forced disappearance, sexual violence, banishment, false propaganda, international complicity and genocide.

“All these acts were an integral part of a broad widespread systematic attack against the Indonesian Communist Party, its affiliate organizations, its leaders, members and supporters and their families,” Yacoob said, adding that the attacks were started with false propaganda.

According to Yacoob, the state is ultimately responsible for the inhumane actions of the military and its henchmen. “The State of Indonesia also failed to prevent the perpetration of these inhumane acts or to punish those responsible for their commission. To the extent that some crimes were committed independently of the authorities, by so-called “spontaneous” local action, this did not absolve the State from the obligation to prevent their occurrence and to punish those responsible,” he said.

Indonesia must apologize

At the end of the statement, Yacoob read a series of recommendations which called on the Indonesian government to “apologize to all victims, survivors and their families for all the crimes against humanity and other crimes committed in Indonesia in relation to the 1965 events.”

The recommendations also included a call to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes and ensure appropriate compensation and reparation to victims and survivors.

The tribunal also urged all relevant authorities to push for the government to act swiftly to resolve the longstanding problem. Specifically, the Attorney General should follow up a report released by the National Commission of Human Rights in 2012 which recommended investigations into grave violations of human rights during the Communist pogrom.

The tribunal also demanded the government rehabilitate surviving victims of the purge, prevent further persecution against them by the authorities and protect all their rights as guaranteed by international and Indonesian law.