An Annotated Bibliography Compiled by Jaydi Colmenares Raney

Historical Overview

East Timor and Indonesian Communists

Who: Civilians and PKI supports; East Timorese
When: 1965-66; 1972 & 1999
Where: Throughout Indonesian Islands (Java, Sumatra, Bali); East Timor
Estimated Numbers: Approx. 500,000 killed in Indonesia, 500,000 arrested; 200-300,000 killed in East Timor

Indonesian Communist Party (PKI)

Indonesia is a victim of its own national composition. With 13,700 islands, over 250 languages, and at least 300 ethnic groups, the diversity of interests destabilizes the central authority. After independence from the Dutch East India Company in 1949, the two largest political parties, the Indonesian National Party (PNI) and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), shared power with several other small parties. The popularity of the PKI grew as the peasant farmers were attracted to the ideology. The coalition government struggled to preserve the balance of the PKI and the army. In 1965, coup called the September 30 Movement attempted to seize power. The PNI and General Suharto quickly turned back the uprising. Suharto established de facto control and became president in 1967. The new government placed the former president under house arrest until his death in 1970. The army blamed the coup attempt on PKI and launched retaliation and a round-up of all suspected sympathizers. The conflict between the PKI and the army culminated in the massacre of 500,000 PKI supporters and the arrest of 500,000 others, mainly civilians, from 1965-66, until the PNI had established full dominance. Suharto stayed in power until 1998 in one of the longest reigns of any military dictator. For over 30 years of his rule, raids and massacres continued.

The killings had ethnic and religious dimensions with the targeting of Chinese populations and attacks by both Christians and Muslims. The two political parties basically were composed along ethnic, religious, and class distinctions. Indonesian Muslims and parts of the Christian population aligned themselves with the conservative PNI to suppress the atheists or indigenous polytheists. Furthermore, some victims seemed to be selected because of their Chinese heritage. Analysts also identify social features that marked the victims since urban elite tried to control the rural peasants. Due to the political nature of these killings and the strategic relations between the Indonesian government and the international community, few states have called this incident a genocide. Like many military regimes, the Indonesian government was characterized by continuous armed oppression of a civilian population.

East Timor

The Campaign to End Genocide: An Initiative of the World Federalist Association.

This tension between civilians and military again was manifested in mass killings and destruction in East Timor. Indonesia invaded the small island in 1975, one day after a visit to Jakarta by President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The occupation claimed over 200,000 lives, or 1/3 of the population, and occurred against United Nations appeals to the Indonesian government, largely because of US support of the government and its arms buying.

For two decades, the East Timorese resisted occupation. In 1998, after President Suharto was forced to resign due to the economic crisis, the new government offered to have elections to decide the fate of East Timor. On August 30, 1999, with a voter turnout of over 98% of East Timorese, 78% voted for independence in U.N.-supervised elections. The subsequent murder, looting, and arson by anti-independence militias and Indonesian police and troops destroyed around 70% of the local property and displaced 3/4 of the population. United Nations estimates placed the casualties at 1,500 killed. Many people were relocated forcefully to West Timor. Currently, East Timor is under UN supervision awaiting full independence.

US policy makers often ignored the Indonesian conflicts until the outbreak of violence after the Timorese elections. The Indonesian government was considered a long time arms trade partner and an ally against the so-called Asian Communists. However, American and East Timorese human rights activists worked with members of Congress over the years to slowly change foreign policy. In reaction to the violence in East Timor, the US suspended military relations with Indonesia.

The United Nations annually released resolutions condemning human rights violations by the Indonesian military, but it neither recognized East Timor’s autonomy in the face of the government’s invasion nor took any action against Indonesia. However, groups of non-governmental organizations and global human rights advocates mobilized opposition to the violence. The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded a joint Peace Prize to Bishop Carlos Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor for seeking a just and peaceful solution to the conflict. Indonesia of late has been under further scrutiny for its militant reaction to national movements in Aceh, Maluku, and West Papua.

Remark by Ronny Geenen: The sentence: “After independence from the Dutch East India Company in 1949” is totally wrong. First a company cannot declare the independence of a country. And the wording “Dutch India Company in 1949” should read “Dutch East Indies in 1949”. Under pressure of the United States of America and the United Nations the Government of the Netherlands gave Indonesia on December 27, 1949 their independence.


  1. Zoals ik eerder in mijn “Vodje van Luns niets waard” schreef,was de buitenlandse politiek van het U.S.State Dept.-onder Secr.of State Foster Dulles-gericht op samenwerken met (koloniale/ex-koloniale regimes -Fransen in Vietnam,ondanks dat het Vichy-regime ruim 5 jaar nauw met Japan had samengewerkt, en na 15/08/1945 ineens als “Vrije Franse Regime” werd erkend,India en Nederland in vml.Nederlands-Indie.Maar het is m.i.oneerlijk de fout niet bij de(toenmalige)Nederlandse regering te leggen,omdat men de woorden van President Roosevelt had herinneren “dat er na de oorlog geen plaats meer is voor koloniale regimes”.In Indonesie was de bevolkingsopbouw inderdaad een nachtmerrie van de nieuwe republiek,waar totaal verschillende groepen-Javanen,Acer’s,Batakkers,Sundanezen,Toradja’s,Menadonezen,Balinezen,Molukkers,Papua’s etc.-onder een centraal gezag moesten “wennen”.Een tweetal publicaties l A.Roadnight “United States policy towards Indonesia in the Truman and Eisenhower years”(page 89 e.v.) en “” -“East Timor questions and answers” dtd october 1999,geven ons een beter inzicht hoe buitenlandse politiek van de Verenigde Staten werkte t.a.v.Indonesie en haar voormalige koloniale overheerser.Kennelijk; there is(much)more than meets the eye”.

  2. De Amerikaan wil alleen een land helpen als het ook in hun eigen belang is. Dus het idee kolonie moet weg. Daarnaast dreigde de politiek van Sukarno meer naar het communisme. Dus dat moet ook worden voorkomen. Immers Amerika had er belang bij dat Rusland geen vinger in de Indonesische pap kreeg.
    Sukarno speelde het spel goed mee.

  3. As a chinese indonesian without any drop of native indonesian blood, reading the story of massacre of my own kind makes my blood boils. Until now, we are still minority and get discriminated in this country sometimes. Kind people are kind but those who hate us are bitter…

  4. Hi Uruki,
    I can imagine your feelings. As long as we are dealing with people who think their politics and religion, which is a bad combination, should rule over you and me, you have to watch out.
    These people should learn to respect any other person, regardless!

  5. I read “After independence from the Dutch East India Company in 1949”. Indonesia could not have gained independence from the Dutch East India Company, since the Dutch East India Company ceased to exist in the year 1800. This undermines the credibility of the author and casts doubt on the factual correctness of the whole text.

  6. I fully agree.And there are more mistakes in that article. The wording “East India Company is totally wrong too”. Indonesia became independent because of the United Nations with the help of the United States of America. Before World War Two that country had the name “The Dutch East Indies”. And after the war Sukarno called Indonesia independent on August 17-1945. And the world approved that on December 27, 1949. An Annotated Bibliography Compiled by Jaydi Colmenares Raney is the writer of this article. Just replace the wording of “Dutch East India Company” with “Dutch East Indies”. A Company cannot make a country independent, only a government of an nation.

  7. As the oldest son to my parents Anita Clothilde Koster and Gerard de Gruiter I was born on July the 4, 1948 at the Juliana Hospital in Bandoeng, Java in the Dutch East Indies. My Dad, became the Assistant Manager of a British rubber plantation called the P&T lands. We stayed there until 1957 when along with many Dutch were forced to repatriate to Holland by order of Resident Sukarno who nationalized all property owned by non-Indonesians. We remained in Holland until 1961 when we immigrated to the USA, settling in Oklahoma and 6 moths later in New Orleans, Louisiana. Through my many years living in America, I did not know the suffering, the heartache, and often the injustice inflicted on the Dutch Indo and the many trails of tears my parents overcame, which paved the way to my current position as a proud American. I am now more than ever determined to ensure to pass on to my off spring their connection to the forgotten Dutch Indo.

  8. Welcome Robert, Thank you for your information.Sukarno did that to force the Dutch to surrender Nederlands Nieuw Guinea, that papoea island.
    I am glad that you are going to educate your off spring. I guess, your parents are not alive anymore?
    I do not know, if you knows it. But the Dutch have also a form of social security. The amount is determine by the number of years they have lived in Holland. Each year has a value of 2%. It start counting from the year 1957 and the age of 15 years. Many older Dutch people, also being a US citizen, have that right.
    I am helping a Dutch woman of 80 years, who lives in Florida. She has been 3 years in Holland and has the right to receive 6%. I do not know how much it will be, but my estimate is around $2000 once a year. Not bad for the Holidays.

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