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1965: The Forgotten Holocaust of Indonesia

28 October 2005


Following an aborted coup attempt in October 1965, the Indonesian military organized what turned out to be one of the most horrifying massacres of the twentieth century. More than half a million people were killed while hundreds of thousands of others " real, alleged and imagined members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and other left and progressive mass organizations " were detained for years in prison camps throughout the country. Relatives, friends and acquaintances of the victims amounting to more than five million people also became targets of repression and discrimination, which resulted in the formation of a political pariah.
In the official history of the Suharto regime, however, the killings and severe repression of millions of Indonesian citizens, were non-events. No mention was made of the central role of the Indonesian military in orchestrating the killings. In fact in several places like Bali, the killings might have not happened, if the military had not sent the special troops to the island to carry out the anti-communist campaign. The evidences are abundant that the military not only carried out the killings themselves, but also mobilized anti-communist youth groups to participate.
In the past few years more facts have been revealed, while more and more victims and their families have come out and break the long silence imposed by the military regime and reveal its masks and myths. Victims groups have been established while human rights organizations have begun to bring the heinous crimes committed by the regime into focus.

On 28 October 2005, a number of human rights groups and activists, academics and concerned individuals organized a one-day seminar and exhibition to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Indonesian Holocaust at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. Topics discussed at the seminar included the involvement of Dutch scientists in the handling of political prisoners, and the solidarity movement in Holland that questioned and protested its government support for the Suharto regime for many years.


  • Movies
    • Mass Grave. A very emotional documentary film about an investigation that held by some groups of human rights activists and families of those killed in 1965-66 massacres. They exhumed a mass grave in Wonosobo, Central Java.
    • Women prison in Plantungan. Documentary film about the condition of women that imprisoned in Plantungan, Central Java.
  • Testimonials
    • Ken Setiawan (children of the victim) and Cisca Pattipilohi (survivor).
  • Seminar
    • Session I: Link between 1965 massacre in Indonesia and the Dutch involvement
      • Team Presentation on Archives related to "University Nijmegen involvement to interogatation process of Buru's prisoners" (Hilmar Farid and Marek Ave)
      • Joop Morrien
      • Peter Schumacher
    • Session II: 40 years after 1965: In Search of Justice and How To Move On
      • Carmel Budiarjo (Tapol - London)
      • Degung Santika (Historian - Bali)
      • Martha Meijer (Humanistisch Overleg Mensenrechten- Amsterdam)