1965 – one of the darkest chapters in Indonesian history

29 October 2005

Südostasien Informationsstelle e.V. Watch Indonesia! e.V.

Joint statement on the occasion

of the commemoration ceremony

„40 years after the genocideof 1965 in Indonesia“

Saturday the 29th October 2005

in the “Asienhaus Essen”


Coming to terms with the past a necessary precondition for democracy

Between 1965 and 1967, in the course of Suharto seizing power, approximately 1 million people were killed in Indonesia. The victims were real and alleged members of the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia PKI) and of other left- wing organisations. These crimes against humanity constitute one of the darkest chapters in Indonesia history. Up until today there has not been any attempt to speak of to come to terms with this past. 40 years after these events that constituted the starting point of Suharto’s New Order, survivors and relatives of the victims still await justice. About 20 million people still suffer from stigmatization and discrimination. Discriminatory laws still deny them full participation in social and political life. Up until the present day, in large parts of Indonesian society it remains a taboo to speak about the traumatic experiences of 1965. Even seven years after the fall of Suharto, patterns of thought and behaviour created during the New Order still affect people and politics of the country. In order to cope with Indonesia’s problems and to ensure peace, stability and social justice for the country’s future, free and creative thinking is required. This can, however, only prosper once existing taboos are broken and serious attempts to come to terms with the past are undertaken. Coming to terms with the past is thus an indispensable precondition for reconciliation and further democratization in Indonesia. It is furthermore a task, which can not be limited to the rehabilitation of the immediate victims and their relatives but needs to involve the whole of society. Attempts to force an end on the debate on 1965, be it by way of a “final stroke” or with a rather symbolic reconciliation commission, are perceived by the victims as a refusal by the authorities to take on their responsibility. However, examples from Spain, Chile and other states show that it is not possible to bury the shadows of the past for good. In a number of states in Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia, attempts to come to terms with the past have been undertaken, with varying degrees of success: through tribunals, truth commissions, documentation centres and memorials as well as through public discourse. Germany even has to deal with the legacy of two totalitarian systems. In the processes of coming to terms with these two periods, successes could be noted, but also grave shortcomings. And up until today, both processes can not be regarded as finished. We appeal to the German Government, to academic institutions, to churches and to NGOs to share experiences with partners in Indonesia and to actively support them in the difficult process of coming to terms with their past. We appeal to the Indonesian Government and Parliament to provide the necessary framework so that the truth about the incidents of 1965-1967 can be brought to light. Justice for the victims must be ensured; perpetrators have to be brought to court. In particular we appeal to: 1. the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his Government as well as Parliament to revoke all laws, decrees and regulations which constitute the legal basis for discrimination of former real or alleged communists. 2. the Indonesian Government to support organisations that work on clearing up the crimes committed in1965-1966 and in the ensuing New Order and to guarantee their safety and protection from attacks by hostile groups. 3. the Indonesian Government to adjust the historiography in schoolbooks and in public discourse to the facts respectively to the findings about the same as so far available. Essen, 29th October 2005 Südostasien Informationsstelle e.V. Bullmannaue 11 D-45327 Essen Tel +49-201-8303820/8303811 e-mail: Watch Indonesia! e.V. Planufer 92 d D-10967 Berlin Tel./Fax +49-30-698 179 38 e-mail:

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