The World Was Silent? Global Communities of Resistance to the 1965 Repression in the Cold War Era
Source TitleTruth, Silence and Violence in Emerging States Histories of the Unspoken
University of Melbourne Author/sMcGregor, Katharine
AffiliationSchool of Historical and Philosophical Studies
CitationsMcGregor, K. (2019). The World Was Silent? Global Communities of Resistance to the 1965 Repression in the Cold War Era. Russell, A (Ed.). Truth, Silence and Violence in Emerging States Histories of the Unspoken, (1), pp.147-168. Routledge.
Access StatusOpen Access
Between 1965 and 1968 the Indonesian army together with civilian vigilantes perpetrated a brutal attack on members of the Indonesian Communist Party and members of affiliated or closely aligned organisations including those for youth, farmers, artists and women. Approximately 500,000 people were murdered and up to a million imprisoned without trial. Schaefer and Wardaya (2013) recently concluded based on a survey of international government and press responses to the 1965 violence that ‘the world’ was largely complacent, if not jubilant, about the rise of the Suharto led military regime and thus silent about the violence against the Indonesian left. This is certainly true of almost all foreign governments. What this elite level of analysis misses, however, is the small scale transnational ‘communities of resistance’ (Mohanty, 2003) to the violence. This paper examines two cases of such resistance and connects them to earlier transnational anti- imperial and anti-fascist activism whereby Indonesians on the political left formed strong bonds to a broader global communities of activists. The first example I consider are protests originating from members of the Afro Asia People’s Solidarity Organisation, which included some Indonesian leftists trapped in exile after the onset of the 1965 violence. The second example I consider is protests launched by the largest post war women’s organization, the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF). Here in particular I examine the role of Dutch socialist women who had strong connections to imprisoned Indonesian women through the WIDF. The paper asks how in each case activists tried to raise the alarm over the violent mass repression in Indonesia and the obstacles they encountered in generating sympathy at the height of the Cold War. It also considers why these cases of resistance have been forgotten.
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