Massacre Survivors Give Indonesian Govt List of Mass Graves

By Niniek Karmini 3 May 2016

JAKARTA — Survivors of Indonesia’s anti-communist massacres in 1965 submitted a list of what they say are more than 100 mass graves to the government on Monday after the president called for an investigation into the killings.

Five survivors, aged in their 70s, who are founders of the Research Foundation for 1965 Murder Victims, gave the documents to the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs, which is responsible for the probe.

The list is the product of research since 2000 and the graves, which are located on the islands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Flores and Bali, account for nearly 14,000 victims, according to the group.

Historians say half a million people died in the months-long frenzy of killing that began in October 1965 at the instigation of the military after six right-wing generals were killed in an attempted coup by suspected communists.

Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan was not on hand to receive the documents but his officials said he would meet with the group next week.

He was instructed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to oversee an investigation into the massacres after a conference held by the government and rights groups last month broke a half-century taboo on public discussion of the killings.

Luhut, a retired general, caused a stir by saying at the event that very few people were killed and vowing the government would never apologize. He later demanded that rights groups prove that mass graves exist.

Bedjo Untung, a survivor of the massacres who heads the foundation, said it had documented the locations of 122 mass graves with the help of survivors and witnesses, including people who dug the graves and buried the bodies.

“We believe this is only 2 percent of the victims,” he said.

Kontras, an advocacy group, has refused to give its information about mass graves to the government out of fear it could be used by opponents of the investigation to conceal the truth.