THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
September 15, 1999
The Wisdom Fund

One Million Indonesians Died In U.S. Backed Coup

by Enver Masud

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One million Indonesians are reported to have died in the U.S. backed coup that led to the Suharto presidency, and the occupation of East Timor.

Aid agencies estimate (BBC, September 13) that between 600 and 7,000 people have been killed and as many as 300,000 have fled their homes since the UN-backed August 30 referendum on East Timor's future.

Now pro-Jakarta militias, angered by President Habibie's decision to allow international peacekeepers into East Timor, have told aid workers (The Times, September 14) that they will take revenge by embarking on a violent killing spree in West Timor. Should this occur, would the UN approved, Australia led, multinational force extend operations to West Timor?

The wider catastrophe we fear may become reality, and the likely winners will not be the Indonesians who suffered under 350 years of colonial oppression, and had their lives shattered once again when U.S. backed Suharto assumed the presidency and ousted President Sukarno.

G.C. Allan and Audrey Donnithorne, in Western Enterprise in Indonesia and Malaya, write "In 1940 only 240 Indonesian students graduated from the high schools and only 37 from the colleges. In that year out of over 3,000 higher civil servants there were only 221 Indonesians, and even in the middle ranks a larger number of posts were held by Europeans and Eurasians, who counted as Dutch."

By 1945, writes Reba Lewis author of Indonesia: Troubled Paradise, 93 per cent of the people were still illiterate. After 350 years of colonial domination, there were only a hundred Indonesian physicians; less than a hundred Indonesian engineers; and in a nation dependent upon the efficiency of its land productivity, only ten Indonesian agricultural experts.

Indonesia proclaimed independence on August 17, 1947, and on December 27, 1949, Indonesia became legally independent from the Netherlands (Holland).

In 1958 the U.S. attempted to oust Sukarno. Washington correspondents Thomas Ross and David Wise in their book The Invisible Government, relate how in 1958 the U.S. supplied a right-wing rebel force in Indonesia with arms and a small air force of B-26 bombers for the failed attempt.

"Between October 1, 1965, and April or May of the following year, the right-wing military regime of Generals Nasution and Suharto seized power and consolidated its strength in Indonesia. In that scant seven months as many as a million people were slaughtered. The rising toll of victims appeared occasionally in the press here, recorded with little more passion than a sports score." -- Deirdre Griswold, The Second Greatest Crime of the Century

Until the 1965 coup, Indonesia was one of the most dynamic countries. "The Sukarno government," writes Ms. Griswold, "took a number of bold steps in foreign policy that shocked the Western capitals and threatened to be infectious. Indonesia withdrew from both the UN and the Olympic games, declaring them to be dominated by imperialism, and started to set up rival international bodies. At the very moment that the right-wing coup was taking place, a conference against foreign military bases, which of course was aimed first and foremost at the U.S. with its 3,000 [?] installations overseas, was in session in Djakarta."

After twenty-five years of fighting the Japanese, the Dutch and the U.S. imperialists, the 1965 coup and the subsequent slaughter of a million Indonesians, paved the way for U.S. companies who began arriving in 1966, writes Ms. Griswold, for "the feast."

Unilever setup oil and edible fat plants. Uniroyal got its rubber plantation and latex plant. Union Carbide, Singer Sewing Machine and National Cash Register got back properties expropriated during the revolution. Eastern Airlines partnered with the Indonesia airline Garuda; Mobil Oil secured oil exploration rights. For a mere $75 million Freeport Sulphur got a contract for exploiting West Irian copper which is 20 times as rich as ores found in Arizona and Utah. Freeport claims it has since paid nearly $1.7 billion in direct benefits (taxes, dividends, royalties) to the Government of Indonesia.

The U.S. armed, trained Suharto military invaded the former Portugese colony of East Timor in 1975 to stop a civil war between pro- and anti-Marxist groups. President Suharto did what his Western mentors had done to acquire colonies or to consolidate their own state boundaries, and 200,000 East Timorese are reported to have been killed resisting the Indonesian occupation.

We look forward to learning more from major media regarding this history of Indonesia and East Timor. Wrongs cannot be righted until the facts are known and understood. Peace and social justice cannot prevail until the rich and powerful set an example for the weak and impoverished.



[Enver Masud visited Indonesia in the early 1950's when his father was the UNESCO Mission Chief, and several times in the mid-1990's as an engineering management consultant for The World Bank. He is founder of The Wisdom Fund.]

[Marshall Green, American ambassador in Indonesia compiled for Indonesia's president Suharto a "shooting list": "the names of thousands of leftist political opponents, from leaders identified by the CIA to village-level activists, the kind of data only local observers - conservative missionaries, classically - could provide." ... Green and his men followed the results of their gift closely, checking off names as Suharto's men killed or imprisoned them.--Jeff Sharlet, "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power," Harper Perennial, June 2, 2009]

Peter Dale Scott and Robert Parry, "A Long History of America's Dark Side," consortiumnews.com, October 7, 2010

[Why is the New York Times concealing the key role that the United States played in the 1965 coup in Indonesia that ended up killing somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people? . . .

"Western powers urged the Indonesian military commanders to seize upon the false claims of a coup attempt instigated by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), in order to carry out one of the greatest civilian massacres of the 20th century and establish a military dictatorship." . . .

The U.S. made sure that very few of those communists - as well as the leaders of peasant, women, union, and youth organizations - survived the holocaust.--Conn Hallinan, "The '65 Massacres: Complicity and Cover-Up," counterpunch.org, January 24, 2012]

Copyright © 1999 The Wisdom Fund - All Rights Reserved. Provided that it is not edited, and author name, organization, and URL are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and e-mailed to others.
back button