More than half a century ago, a wave of bloody purges swept through Indonesia, in scope and brutality comparable to the terror of the Khmer Rouge. Recently, there was evidence that Britain was indirectly involved in the massacre. However, this is unlikely to serve as a basis not only for compensation, but even for an apology.
Like Hitler and Genghis Khan
“A propaganda campaign organized by Great Britain provoked one of the bloodiest massacres of the second half of the twentieth century – the massacre of the communists in Indonesia,” writes The Guardian, citing declassified documents from the Foreign Office, the United Kingdom Foreign Office.
In the early 1960s, the anti-British President Sukarno was in power. He was supported by the Communist Party of Indonesia (CPI). London and Washington feared that the country would move closer to China, where Mao Zedong ruled at the time.
On instructions from the authorities, officers from the Foreign Office’s propaganda department traveled to Singapore. There they actively worked to undermine the regime.
“The group was led by forty-year-old Ed Wynn. He was assisted by four local residents, a junior colleague and two women from the information research department, created in 1945 to oppose Soviet propaganda. They are located in a two-story villa in a prestigious quiet area,” the article says.
With their submission, a radio station criticizing the head of state began broadcasting to Indonesia. High-ranking officials were provided with leaflets, which were issued on behalf of the emigrants. In fact, they were scribbled by the British. To cover their tracks, booklets were sent via Hong Kong, Tokyo and Manila.
“We do not call for violence. But on behalf of all patriots, we demand to cut out the communist cancer. The party has turned into a wounded snake. It’s time to kill it before it recovers,” some leaflets said. Others recalled Hitler and Genghis Khan, urged “to eradicate communism, otherwise the red threat will again envelop the country.”
As a result, the regime was shattered and a coup d’etat took place. The British, as the newspaper writes, actively incited the Indonesians to “liquidate all communist organizations.” Otherwise, they assured, “the nation will be in danger.” They acted mainly through army generals. According to various sources, from 1965 to 1966, from 500 thousand to three million people died, one way or another connected with the communists. Power was seized by the dictator Suharto. He ruled the country for over thirty years.
The Communist Party itself was banned in 1966. Purges in the army and government agencies began in Jakarta, spread to Central Java, and swept across East Java and Bali. “In Britain they knew about the massacres,” the newspaper writes.
According to journalists, Washington is also involved. Perhaps the American authorities gave the Indonesians lists of officials who were suspected of having links with the Communists. The CIA denies this. Although local historians insist on something else. “The states were involved to the point where they helped the local military to carry out the massacre,” said Bradley Simpson, director of documentation for Indonesia and Timor Leste at the US National Security Archives.
The State Department website has a transcript of the report of Robert McNamara, who was then Secretary of Defense. “I believe that our program of military assistance to Indonesia over the past few years has contributed to the pro-American orientation of the army, turned it against the Communist Party,” he reported to Lyndon Johnson. “Key positions have passed to officers trained in the United States.”
Require to repent, but will not be punished
Human rights activists from Amnesty International in Indonesia are asking President Joko Widodo to reopen their investigations “for the sake of justice and for the survivors.”
Descendants of the victims of anti-communist purges also demand an apology from London. “We are victims, we are angry. Reconciliation is impossible without the truth, so open it up! I call on Britain, the United States, Australia and other countries that took advantage of the massacre of innocent Indonesians to accept responsibility!” – insists the head of the Indonesian Institute for the Study of the Events of 1965-66, Bejo Untung.
“Anyone who seemed even a little leftist was arrested. People shied away from each other, spoke in whispers,” says human rights activist Tari Lang. Her parents were imprisoned at the time.
There are many Chinese people among the victims of the massacres and purges. “The killings left a deep scar in the hearts of the Indonesians, it has not healed until now,” – said the journalists of the South China Morning Post.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry declined to comment on reports of London’s involvement. The British embassy in Jakarta is also silent.
However, immediately after the scandal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson met in Glasgow with his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo and promised to actively invest in the green economy in order to “support the republic’s transition to alternative energy sources.” London also said it would “prepare a loan package for Indonesia.” Departments have already been instructed to draw up a list of priority areas.
Natalya Eremina, professor of the Department of European Studies at the Faculty of International Relations, St. Petersburg State University, is sure that no one will be punished and the UK will not apologize. “The local authorities will not be persistent. But for Indonesians it is important that everyone knows about it. There are many examples in history of how the British violated human rights. Think of India. It’s just that not all the facts are known. London certainly cannot call itself a model. to follow, “the political scientist argues.
The British authorities do not confirm their involvement in the Indonesian events, but journalists cite the statement of Norman Reddaway, one of the founders of the Foreign Office’s information research department. In a 1996 interview, he admitted that the authorities had allocated him £ 100,000 to “do everything possible to get rid of President Sukarno.” It is now clear what he meant by “everything possible,” concludes The Guardian.