Shocking new details have emerged about Britain’s role in one of the most brutal massacres of the post-war 20th century.
Last year the Observer revealed how British officials secretly deployed black propaganda in the 1960s to urge prominent Indonesians to “eradicate” “communist cancer”.
It is estimated that at least 500,000 people linked to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) were eliminated between 1965 and 1966.
Documents recently released in the National Archives show how Foreign Ministry propaganda specialists sent hundreds of inflammatory pamphlets to leading anti-communists in Indonesia, urging them to kill Foreign Minister Dr. Subandrio and claiming that Chinese Indonesians deserved the violence inflicted on them. .
The British wanted the Indonesian military and militias to overthrow the government of President-elect Sukarno. He and Subandrio were considered too close to the PKI and communist China, and Britain wanted to end Confrontation, the low-level military and political campaign launched by Sukarno and Subandrio against the Malaysian Federation.
Recently discovered pamphlets, dating from the mid-1960s, targeted the leftist foreign minister, repeatedly challenging anti-communists to kill Subandrio, describing him as Sukarno’s “rooster”. Propagandists have reserved a special venom for Subandrio. “The army only plucked a few of the rooster’s many feathers, they didn’t even cut off its wings,” the pamphlets complain. The bird needed to have “the twisted neck; and all of Indonesia will rejoice”.
Hundreds of pamphlets were also sent to Muslim anti-communists claiming that agents of Communist China would take over Indonesia. Following an abortive coup in which six generals were kidnapped and murdered, which the military blamed on the Communists, ‘it was inevitable’ that ‘many innocent Chinese people would suffer’, according to a British pamphlet secret. “We can deplore the unbridled fury” which was unleashed against the Chinese of Indonesia, but “we realize that they have for the most part only themselves to blame”.
The British also wrote the script for a macabre radio broadcast, allegedly of dead generals whose bodies had been thrown down a well. “Worms may feed on our decaying flesh,” cried the dead generals, “but our voices have become the voices of the Nation’s conscience.” “Oh Subandrio!” they cried, “Don’t you think the hangman’s noose is too easy a way out for a man like you?”
Immediately after the coup attempt, General Suharto took control of the Indonesian military and oversaw the massacres of the anti-communist purge. Over the next few months, the right-wing pro-Western Suharto usurped the ailing Sukarno. He was named acting president in 1967 and then president the following year. His dictatorship lasted 32 years.
Lenah Susianty, whose father was arrested and detained during the crackdown, said: “The whole Chinese community in Sukabumi has suffered for a long time. Susianty, who now sits on the board of the Indonesian human rights organization Tapol, added: “They were afraid to say anything and had to endure the extortion, harassment and harassment in silence. further abuse by other members of society. They were an easy target because they were considered “communists”.
Soe Tjen Marching’s father was also tortured and imprisoned for two and a half years because the army suspected him of being a member of the PKI. Now a lecturer at Soas University in London, she says the targeting of the Chinese community in 1965 “greatly contributed to fostering suspicion and discrimination between Chinese and non-Chinese in Indonesia. It is therefore urgent that the British government apologizes”.
In October the Observer revealed the first hard evidence that British officials secretly deployed black propaganda in the 1960s. The material was believed to have come from exiled nationalist Indonesians. In fact, it was written by psychological warfare experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs working in a cozy cottage in Singapore in cooperation with MI6. For five decades, the Foreign Office denied any involvement in the murders.
At the start of the massacres in October 1965, British pamphlets called for “the elimination of the PKI and all communist organizations”. The nation, they warned, would be in danger “as long as the communist leaders are at large and their ranks and ranks go unpunished”.
At least 500,000 people were massacred, and some estimates go as high as three million. These included ethnic Chinese, many of whom were killed by Muslims and other militias.
Tapol’s Steve Alston said yesterday his organization was ‘appalled that the UK government has engaged in a disinformation campaign to incite violence’.
“Faced with such evidence, the UK government must now commit to launching an independent legal inquiry to be completed within 18 months.”