Mechanics of Mass Murder : A Case for Understanding the Indonesian Killings as Genocide

This article presents an overview of new evidence recovered from the former Indonesian Intelligence Agency’s archives in Banda Aceh that is able to prove, for the first time, military agency behind the 1965–66 killings in Indonesia. The military leadership, these documents show, initiated and implemented the killings as part of a coordinated national campaign. This campaign was described by the military leadership as an “annihilation operation” and was implemented with the stated intention to “annihilate to the roots” the military’s major political rival, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

This new evidence fundamentally changes what it is now possible to know about the 1965–66 killings, specifically as regards the question of military intent. Likewise, the process by which the military’s target group was identified and targeted for destruction can now be understood using the military’s own accounts of how this process occurred. This article argues that this new evidence strengthens the argument, advanced by genocide scholars since the early 1980s, that the 1965–66 killings should be understood as a case of genocide.

Jess Melvin | 2017
In: Journal of Genocide Research, ISSN 1462-3528 ; eISSN 1469-9494 | 19 | 4 | 487-511
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (