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Dossier The aftermath of 1965: an Indonesian perspective


Elsa Clavé et Asvi Warman Adam
p. 1-2

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  • 3 See Rémy Madinier, “Reconciling Indonesian History with 1965: Facts, Rumours and Stigma,” Archipel (...)

1In October 2016, Goethe University (Frankfurt) organized an international conference entitled “Reconciling Indonesian History with 1965: Facts, Rumors and Stigma.”3 The idea of this three-day event went back even further, a year earlier at Nieuwe Kerk (The Hague) where the International People’s Tribunal on 1965 (IPT 1965) was held from November 10 to 13, 2015. During the trial, several scholars—Bradley Simpson, Asvi Warman Adam, Saskia Wieringa, Wijaya Herlambang—testified as experts. They met in the corridors with colleagues, exchanged gazes during the hearings, astonished as they listened to the story they thought they knew, and about which they were surprisingly still learning: the 1965-1966 events.

2The IPT—an Indonesian initiative supported by the diaspora in the Netherlands, their friends and colleagues—elicited a series of reactions in Indonesia. Several significant incidents occurred in 2015. In October, Bali’s Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival was forced to cancel events related to 1965. The same month, Lentera, a student journal from Satya Wacana Christian University, published an issue on 1965-1966 entitled “Salatiga Kota Merah,” which was banned. This violation of the freedom of speech was followed by a declaration at the highest level touting the imminent threat supposedly posed by communism. Books were seized in publishing houses, and the press reported incidents which could almost make one smile had they not been taken seriously. Among others, plastic toy soldiers made in China, bearing the hammer and sickle on a flag, were withdrawn from a shop in Yogyakarta as they were considered propaganda pieces.

3The 2016 conference in Frankfurt was organized to discuss in an academic setting what had been heard at the IPT as well as the events it had triggered. A majority of the participants came from Indonesia in a context that was far from appeased, but with the same will to academically discuss the impact of 1965-1966 fifty years later. The present dossier comes out of these discussions and reflects the state of Indonesian scholarship on the question, which tends to focus on the impact of 1965-66 for the present generation. The papers deal with topics as different as land issues, higher education and historiography, but beyond that address related global themes that are central to acquire an understanding of 1965-1966 within a larger time frame: the power of rumors, the long-term impact on several sectors of Indonesian society and the truncated memory passed on to the new generations.

4The article by Asvi Warman Adam addresses these three issues by presenting his overview of the last 50 years of historiography on the topic, in which rumors form a large part of the sources and have had an impact on Indonesians’ perception of their past. Asvi Warman Adam describes an evolution in the content of history books and concludes on a positive note about the dynamism of studies on 1965-1966. He identifies five periods which can be differentiated through the orientations and content of publications. Whereas the first two periods—debate and instauration of an official narrative—have occupied more than three decades, the last 15 years have already been marked by three historiographical “turns,” from the freeing up of speech with victims’ testimonials to ground-breaking studies based on new data, and the two documentaries by Joshua Oppenheimer. According to Asvi Warman Adam, these films, which give pride of place to the perpetrators, marked the beginning of a fifth phase in Indonesian historiography on 1965-1966, one that urges scholars—and especially Indonesians—to produce, and more importantly disseminate, their studies.

5The impact of September 30 on Indonesian society had been extremely important, impacting all sectors, and studies had been conducted before Oppenheimer’s movie, but they have remained largely external to academia in Indonesia. The article by Abdul Wahid offers a window on the academic world in the 1960s, allowing us to partially understand the paralysis in scholarship. After having depicted the tense political atmosphere on campuses in the 1960s, with the different parties trying to get a hold on education, Abdul Wahid describes the events following September 30: the shutting down of PKI-affiliated campuses, but also the generalized screening-process conducted in all the universities. It led to the dismissal of students, staff members and professors in the best cases, and to their arrest and execution in the worst. Campuses were transformed, afterward, into a scene where politics was absent. What is striking in his article is the rapidity of the reaction, which invites us to suppose that the university administration was prepared, at least in some places. A second salient element is the varying impact of the screening process which reminds us once again of the importance of local factors in the post-1965-1966 events.

6This is precisely what is highlighted in the two contributions on land reform, dealing respectively with villages in East and West Java. Research on the impact 1965 has had on land ownership has been ongoing in Indonesia at least since the 1990s, but was often secluded in NGO circles. The articles by Ahmad Nashih Luthfi and Hilma Safitri illustrate the coming together of scholarship and a certain form of activism, which, as just mentioned, had been wiped out in 1965 and largely kept in check until the end of the New Order. Based on official data from the agrarian agency of Banyuwangi (East Java) and local military archives, Ahmad Nashih Luthfi demonstrates the relation between land reform and violence on two levels. Indeed, the innovation of this study lies in its argument regarding horizontal and vertical violence, which contradicts the commonly accepted version according to which the incidents were provoked only because of land issues between villagers. Using the concept of primitive accumulation, he finally shows that the 1965 event has been used to keep the agrarian sector under the control of both the state and capitalist interests of the New Order.

7With the same care for micro-data on land issues, Hilma Safitri presents a study on Indramayu (West Java). Based on a case of contemporary land occupation, she demonstrates that the root of the problem lies in the unfinished land reform of the 1960s. While she describes the methods and arguments used by local authorities between 1965 and the 1980s, to take back the lands which had been distributed before 1965, she also insists on the long-term pattern of abuses related to land opening, exploitation and selling. The interviews she conducted reveal surprising similarity in the modus operandi since the Japanese period, calling for an extension to the time frame of such studies.

  • 4 Soe Tjen Marching, The End of Silence. Accounts of the 1965 Genocide in Indonesia, Amsterdam: Amste (...)

8In the last few months, four books have been published on 1965 and its legacies.4 This dossier is part of the renewal of interest in 1965 in academia and aims at underlining the part that Indonesian scholars play in the rewriting of their own history. Half a century after the event, with easier access to archives and people willing to talk about their past experience, this dossier invites us to look at the events of 1965-1966, and more generally at attitudes regarding communist ideology, from a contemporary and an Indonesian perspective. The four authors’ contributions show that the debate is far from over on the question, and that it can unfold in the context of an academic discussion, accessible to the public.

List of Abbreviations mentioned in the dossier

9ABRI - Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia (Armed Forces of the Republic of Indonesia)

10Aksef - Aksi Sefihak (Unilateral action)

11AKBP - Ajun Komisaris Besar Polisi (Police Adjutant Chief Commissioner)

12AURI - Angkatan Udara Republik Indonesia (Air Force of the Republic of Indonesia)

13BKS - Badan Koordinasi Siaga (Vigilance Coordinating Board)

14BKKS - Badan Koordinasi Komando Siaga (Vigilance Commando Coordinating Board)

15BIN - Badan Intelijen Negara (State Intelligence Agency)

16BPN - Badan Pertahanan Nasional (National Land Office)

17BTI - Barisan Tani Indonesia (Peasants’ Front of Indonesia)

18BUMN - Badan Usaha Milik Negara (State-owned Enterprise)

19CGMI - Consentrasi Gerakan Mahasiswa Indonesia/ (Student Movement of Indonesia Concentration)

20Dandim - Komandan Distrik Militer (Military District Major)

21DI/TII - Darul Islam/Tentara Islam Indonesia (Darul Islam/Islamic Army of Indonesia)

22Dirjen - Direktorat Jenderal (General Direction)

23DPR - Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (House of Representatives)

24DPR-GR/MPRS - Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – Gotong Royong/Majelis/Permusyawaratan Rakyat Sementara (House of Representatives – Gotong Royong/Provisional People’s Consultative Congress)

25Erfpacht - Erfelijke pacht (Hereditary lease)

26G30S - Gerakan 30 September (30th of September Movement)

27Gestapu - Gerakan September Tiga Puluh (30th of September Movement)

28Gestok - Gerakan Satu Oktober (First of October Movement)

29GERWANI - Gerakan Wanita Indonesia (Women’s Movement of Indonesia)

30GG - Government Ground

31GMNI - Gerakan Mahasiswa Nasional Indonesia (National Student Movement of Indonesia)

32HGU - Hak Guna Usaha (Cultivation Rights Title)

33HSI - Himpunan Sardjana Indonesia (Scholars’ Association of Indonesia)

34HMI - Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam/(Muslim Students’ Association)

35IKAPI - Ikatan Penerbit Indonesia (Publishers’ Association of Indonesia)

36IKIP - Institut Keguruan dan Ilmu Pendidikan (Institute for Teachers and Pedagogy)

37IPT - International People’s Tribunal

38ITB - Institut Teknologi Bandung (Bandung Technology Institute)

39KKO - Korps Komando Operasi (Command Operations’ Corps)

40Kopkamtib - Komando Operasi Pemulihan Keamanan dan Ketertiban (Command Operation for the Restoration of Security and Order)

41Koramil - Komando Rayon Militer (Rayon Military Command)

42KOPKAM - Komando Operasi Keamanan (Command Operation for Security)

43KOTI - Komando Operasi Tertinggi (High Command Operation)

44KTSP - Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan (School-based curriculum)

45LBH – Bandung - Lembaga Bantuan Hukum – Bandung/(Institute for Legal Aid – Bandung)

46Lekra - Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat (Institute of People’s Culture)

47LESRI - Lembaga Seni dan Budaya Republik Indonesia (Institute of Art and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia)

48MPRS - Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat Sementara (Provisional People’s Consultative Congress)

49Manikebu - Manifes Kebudayaan (Cultural Manifesto)

50MSI - Masyarakat Sejarawan Indonesia (Society of Indonesian Historians)

51Murba - Musyawarah Rakyat Banyak (People’s Consultative Party)

52NAS-A - Nasionalis dan Agamis (Nationalists and Religious)

53Nasakom - Nasionalisme Agama Komunisme (Nationalism, Religion, Communism)

54PAPELRADA Panitia Pelaksana Dwikora Daerah (Organizing Committee for Regional Dwikora)

55PBNU - Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Ulama/(Executive Board of the Nahdlatul Ulama)

56Pemda - Pemerintah daerah (Regional authorities)

57PERHIMI - Perhimpunan Mahasiswa Indonesia (Students’ Association of Indonesia)

58Perhutani - Perusahaan Hutan Negara Indonesia (Indonesian State Forestry Company)

59Permesta - Piagam Perjuangan Semesta (Charter of Common Struggle)

60Perpu - Peraturan Pemerintah Pengganti Undang-Undang/(Government Regulation in Lieu of Law)

61Petani - Persatuan Tani Nasional Indonesia/(National Union of Peasants of Indonesia)

62Pertanu - Pertanian Nahdlatul Ulama (Agrarian Association of the Nahdlatul Ulama)

63PGRI - Persatuan Guru Republik Indonesia (Teachers’ Union of the Republic of Indonesia)

64PGRI-NV - Persatuan Guru Republik Indonesia Non-Vaksentral (Non-Vakcentral Teachers’ Union of the Republic of Indonesia)

65PKI - Partai Komunis Indonesia (Communist Party of Indonesia)

66PNI - Partai Nasional Indonesia (National Party of Indonesia)

67PNS - Petani Nasionalis Indonesia (Nationalist Peasants of Indonesia)

68POM - Polisi Militer (Military Police)

69PP - Peraturan Pemerintah (Government Regulations)

70PP AURI - Persatuan Purnawirawan Angkatan Udara Republik Indonesia (Association of the Air Force Pensioners of the Republic of Indonesia)

71PPN - Perusahaan Perkebunan Negara (State-owned estates)

72PRRI - Pemerintahan Revolusioner Republik Indonesia (Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia)

73PTIP - Perguruan Tinggi dan Ilmu Pengetahuan (Higher Education and Sciences)

74Puterpra - Perwira Urusan Teritorial dan Perlawanan Rakyat (Territorial Affairs and People’s Resistance Officer)

75RPKAD - Resimen Para Komando Angkatan Darat (Land Army Commando Regiment)

76SK KINAG - SK Kantor Inspeksi Agraria (Agrarian Affairs Decree)

77SK - Surat Keputusan (Decree)

78SPGN - Sekolah Pendidikan Guru Negeri (Teacher-Training School)

79SSP - Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret (Order of March the Eleventh)

80Tap MPRS - Ketetapan Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat Sementara (Resolution of the Provisional People’s Consultative Congress)

81Tapol - Tahanan Politik (Political prisoner)

82TNI-AD - Tentara Negara Indonesia – Angkatan Darat (Armed Forces of Indonesia – Land Army)

83TOL - Tanah Obyek Land reform (Liable Land for Land reform)

84UI - Universitas Indonesia (University of Indonesia)

85UGM - Universitas Gadjah Mada (Gadjah Mada University)

86UNRA - Universitas Rakjat (People’s University)

87URECA - Universitas Res Publica (Res Publica University)

88USDEK - Undang-undang Dasar 1945, Sosialisme Indonesia, Demokrasi Terpimpin, Ekonomi Terpimpin, dan Kepribadian Indonesia (1945 Constitution, Socialism of Indonesia, Guided Democracy, Guided Economy, and Identity of Indonesia)

89UU - Undang-Undang (Law)

90UUPA - Undang-Undang Pokok-pokok Agraria (Basic Agrarian Laws)

91UUPBH - Undang-Undang Perjanjian Bagi Hasil (Outcome Sharing Agreement Laws)

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3 See Rémy Madinier, “Reconciling Indonesian History with 1965: Facts, Rumours and Stigma,” Archipel 93, 2017, p. 11-13.

4 Soe Tjen Marching, The End of Silence. Accounts of the 1965 Genocide in Indonesia, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2017; Geoffrey B. Robinson, The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2018; Jess Melvin, The Army and the Indonesian Genocide: Mechanics of Mass Murder, New-York: Routledge, 2018; Katharine McGregor, Annie Pohlman & Jess Melvin (eds.), The Indonesian Genocide of 1965. Causes, Dynamics and Legacies, New-York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

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Référence papier

Elsa Clavé et Asvi Warman Adam, « Introduction », Archipel, 95 | 2018, 1-2.

Référence électronique

Elsa Clavé et Asvi Warman Adam, « Introduction », Archipel [En ligne], 95 | 2018, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2018, consulté le 22 septembre 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/archipel.595

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Elsa Clavé

Assistant professor in Southeast Asian Studies, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt

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Asvi Warman Adam

Peneliti Ahli Utama LIPI, Jakarta

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Association Archipel

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