Siauw appeared surprised and was totally unaware of what Sunito talked about. As soon as Sunito left, he turned the radio on and listened to the RRI’s radio broadcasts, which conveyed news about the Gerakan 30 September and the formation of the Dewan Revolusi which was to take over the control of government. He learned from these repeated broadcasts that without being consulted he was appointed a member of the Revolutionary Council. He was the only Chinese in the Council that was to have 45 members.
was close to a large number of political and military leaders. He was particularly close to Nyoto, one of the PKI’s Politburo members. Together with close political associates, Siauw spent the whole day gathering information and attempting to analyse the situation. He told us that it was unclear to him who actually master-minded the movement and how much the PKI leaders and Sukarno were involved in it. It was obviously difficult to get clear answers from anyone in Jakarta. Leaders of the PKI who had direct involvement in the movement like Aidit and leaders of the movement were already on the run – outside Jakarta from 2 October.
As events unfolded over the next few days, he began to realise the severity of the situation and how damaging Suharto’s military group would be to the PKI, Sukarno and the left wing parties and organisations. By the second week in October 1965, he was heard telling his close political associates that the Red Drive being confronted would be much more damaging than the previous Red Drives and that it would take more than ten years for the PKI and other parties to recover. As we all know, his prediction was way out.
The mass killings and purging took place almost without resistance. Members of the PKI and its mass organisations were not ready for the dramatic political changes. More than one million people were brutally murdered nation-wide and more than 100,000 people were jailed; most were to spend their lives in jail for the next twelve years.
Thirdly, most, if not all, the six generals kidnapped and subsequently killed could be described as loyal to Sukarno. They were, however, the generals who Suharto disliked for a number reasons.
Last but not least, members of the PKI and its affiliated organisations were not in any way prepared for changes that could harm the organisations should the planned movement fail. This was a testament that the PKI and its affiliated organisations were not involved in the movement as the Suharto regime publicly declared and maintained for thirty-five years.
How such an important movement was so badly planned was the topic of numerous and lengthy debates. It does give rise to speculations that the main instigator of the movement, namely Syam, one of Aidit’s most trusted advisers was a double agent and that Suharto, who had association with Syam was the real master mind of the movement. This assertion requires more research and investigation.
After 1963, Sukarno had welcomed the rapid shift to the left and had publicly shown that he favoured the alliance with the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, North Vietnam and the Soviet Union over relations with the West. His dependence on the aids from China and the Soviet Union and the rejection of the IMF solution pushed Sukarno further to the left.
Militarily, Sukarno enjoyed widespread support from the Air Force, the Navy and a significant part of the Army. Furthermore, the formation of the militia-like Fifth force consisting members of the PKI and its affiliated organisations, supported by the Air Force, was underway.
In the last phase of Guided Democracy, no political leaders could openly declare that they were anti-communism. Communist-phobia was ridiculed. Political organisations were forced to accept the Nasakom which integrated communism in the world of politics. Some nationalist and left wing organisations encouraged their members and leaders to either join the PKI or to demonstratively provide public supports.
been a target of the previous two Red Drives – in 1948 and 1951- Siauw was much more cautious than his fellow politicians. He was concerned that Baperki got swallowed by the PKI and that it would lose its political identity. He was also mindful of the fact that the Chinese communities Baperki intended to represent were not homogeneously in favour of communism. He tried hard to reverse the streams from within the organisation that pushed Baperki to becoming a close ally of the PKI. Siauw refused to blindly follow the PKI’s moves. For example, he strongly objected PKI’s demand to treat Murba as Baperki’s enemy. Siauw remained close to leaders of Murba and maintained one of them, Adam Malik, as one of Baperki’s senior advisers.
But the Chinese influence in Indonesia and that of the PKI was seemingly too strong to be affected by the Russians.
issue of the existence of the General Council and the likelihood of the right wing generals to topple Sukarno was one possible reason for Aidit’s decision to move to eliminate the said generals. And the action was to be taken before the 5th October – the Armed Forces day.
One other theory related to the fact that Nyoto, one of his important comrades was a clear favourite of Sukarno and that his romantic relationship with a Russian lady, gave rise to speculation that the Russians might manoeuvre Nyoto to a position that would disadvantage his political position.
No one was able to verify what the actual drivers were as Aidit was secretly executed by the Army on 22 November 1965. But the consequences of his revolutionary experiment were disastrous to the left wing forces in the country. Indonesia experienced the worst crimes against humanity in its history, carried out by Suharto’s military regime. Todate, 48 years later, there are no left wing political parties and it is still a crime to teach Marxism in Indonesia.
What were the roles of the foreign countries? The cold-war was at its full swing. Sukarno’s closeness to the Chinese and other communist nations in the region, the anti-Malaysia propaganda, his ambitious plans for CONEFO and the second Asia Africa Conferences would not have pleased the Western Bloc.
And the Chinese, in this context, found Sukarno to be an effective friend. Sukarno’s support for the Chinese in the international arenas was reciprocated by generous financial aids which were later waived by the Chinese. Premier Zhou En Lay indicated Chinese willingness to help arm the left wing Fifth Force that was to be formed.
The Involvement of the US and its allies became apparent only after Suharto took over the control of military power on 2nd October. His ability to rapidly mobilise the right wing forces and the students to destroy the PKI and the left wing forces and the ultimate toppling of Sukarno was linked to such support.
The US’ China containment policy was incorporated in the Red Drive that commenced on 2nd October 1965. The military regime adopted a strong anti- Chinese policy. The People’s Republic of China was accused of being involved in the G30S. Baperki was accused as the cukong of the PKI – the financier of the PKI. The Chinese communities, particularly the Chinese- speaking ones were accused for being communists and were only loyal to the PRC.
Siauw himself was arrested on 4 November 1965, at his home and was to spend the next 12 years as a political prisoner.
The implementation of the anti-Chinese policies continued. The military regime adopted the assimilation path endorsed by Baperki’s political foe, the LPKB. Name-changing from Chinese names to any non-Chinese sounding names was unofficially imposed to the great majority of the Chinese; the public celebrations of the Chinese new Year were banned; dragon and lion parades were banned; the use of Chinese characters was prohibited; thousands of Chinese traders from various parts of East Java and Aceh were forced to leave their homes; there were restrictions on university placements for the Chinese; and various discriminatory measures against the Chinese were introduced – ones that existed until recently.
The relationship with the Chinese government continued to decline. The embassy was attacked and looted in 1967. By October of that year, the diplomatic relationship was terminated.
What brought about the G30S movement still requires significant research. What roles Suharto played and the connection of Suharto with Syam, who appeared to be the master mind of the badly planned movement is still unclear. It is also difficult to understand and verify Aidit’s motives in being involved in the G30S movement in 1965, knowing that the PKI’s position was politically strong in 1965.
Domestically, the clear winner was Suharto, supported by the military and the right wing forces. The PKI and the left wing forces including Sukarno and his followers were purged. More than a million people were brutally murdered and millions were persecuted in the country’s third Red Drive. The Chinese were targeted and for a good part of the first ten years of the New Order, they were badly discriminated against.