US Ignored Massacre of 500K Indonesians, Documents Show

US, aware of killings, didn't speak out against them
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2017 4:20 PM CDT
Documents Show US Complicity in Indonesian Massacre
In this Sept. 3, 2016 photo, two eye witnesses to the aftermath of an execution of local communist party members in 1965 clean up dry leaves around the monument erected at the site of a mass grave in Plumbon village, Central Java, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, File)

Not only was the US aware of anti-Communist killings in the 1960s in Indonesia that resulted in at least 500,000 deaths, but in some instances it celebrated and supported the situation. Thousands of files from the US Embassy in Jakarta were declassified Tuesday, the Independent reports. According to the New York Times, the documents show the US was "meticulously documenting" the killings in 1965 and 1966 but never publicly criticized them. The killings were carried out by the Indonesian army, as well as paramilitaries and religious mobs. They targeted members of the Indonesian Communist Party, or PKI, as well as Chinese people, students, and more, Al Jazeera reports. Among the details revealed in the newly public documents:

  • US was aware Indonesia was dealing with overcrowded prisons by executing suspected communists or "killing them before they are captured."
  • US said anti-American President Sukarno must be replaced in order for Indonesia to receive US aid. He was replaced with Suharto, general who headed three-decade military dictatorship.
  • American diplomat called the change in leadership, even accompanied by mass killings, a "fantastic switch."
  • US officials believed Suharto gave the orders for some mass executions.
  • US tried to stop foreign coverage of the killings.
  • US believed Indonesian army was behind attempted coup against Sukarno despite publicly going along with account that blamed Communists.
A Indonesian human rights lawyer says the killings "are among the world's worst crimes against humanity, and our country's darkest secret." (More Indonesia stories.)

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