A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-1966
Book Review

Elich, Gregory
Date Written:  2019-02-27
Publisher:  CounterPunch
Year Published:  2019
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23509

Review of a book of the Indonesian massacres contains lengthy excerpts and summary of the history.



The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66,
by Geoffrey B. Robinson.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.

In Robinson’s judgment, "The violence of 1965-66 – its patterns and variations – cannot be properly understood without recognizing the pivotal role of the army leadership in provoking, facilitating, and organizing it." The Army was able to exploit fissures within Sukarno’s uneasy alliance. There was little love between the PKI and trade unions on one side, and nationalist and Islamic organizations on the other, with the latter two more often than not holding reactionary political views.

"The idea of killing members of the PKI and the Left did not emerge spontaneously," Robinson points out. "On the contrary, it was encouraged and facilitated by the army leadership through the use of language calculated to create an atmosphere of hostility and fear in which killing anyone associated with the PKI appeared not only morally justifiable but also a patriotic and religious duty. That language spread rapidly across the archipelago, partly through the army-controlled newspapers and television, but also through radio as well as countless mass rallies, demonstrations, ceremonies, declarations, sermons, and face-to-face meetings. In the resulting atmosphere of anticommunist hysteria, existing conflicts over politics, religion, culture, and land were easily ignited."

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