Red Scare in Indonesia


A brief summary about Indonesia: it's a South East Asian country with population of more than 260 million people. It shares a similar history with most countries in the Global South: was colonised by European countries, gained independence, formed a republic, had a socialist leaning leader, said leader was ousted by a right wing coup backed by the USA, lived under authoritarian regime, and eventually was forced into neoliberalism. There's one peculiar thing that exists in Indonesia that I don't really see in other Global South countries: Red Scare. It's been more than 20 years since the end of the Cold War. It's been more than 20 years too since the right wing authoritarian president, Suharto's reign, was over. But even until now, 2020, communism is still banned and even criminalised here.

This Red Scare was originated in an incident called 'The September the 30th Movement', usually shortened to G30S, in 1965. The summary of the incident: a group of soldiers kidnapped and killed 7 high officers of the Army. Another high officer of the Army, General Suharto, blamed the killing to the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). He said the killings were part of an attempt to a coup to topple the president at the time, Sukarno. By a power 'given' to him by Sukarno, he seized control of the Army and the country, proceeded to kill at least 1.5 million of people accused as communists and arrested, tortured, sanctioned millions more including the descendants of the accused.

Suharto replaced Sukarno as the second president of Indonesia. He governed for 32 years (1966-1998) in an era of terror and human rights violations. It's also said as a stable and economically prosperous era by Suharto's supporters. I thought this myth has already been debunked because the reason that Suharto was kicked from his office was an economic crisis in 1997-98 that attacked Asia Pacific. People knew that the economic stability was a result of huge debt and dependability to the World Bank, they correctly blamed Suharto for this. His family was also known as pretty corrupt but surprisingly the same family still exists in power and wealth until now. This family has tried to explicitly comes back to politics by saying that many Indonesians miss the days of Suharto.

During that 32 years, Suharto made sure communism was depicted as evil as possible. All state apparatuses were used to propagate how evil communism and communists are; the media, schools, universities, art and cultural institutions, etc. Those who were accused as communists but weren't killed were barred of their rights. They couldn't vote or run for office, couldn't join the military or the police, couldn't work in a government's office, couldn't go to public schools etc. They had no freedom of movement because their IDs were marked with special identification, even those who were descendants of these people. Such marking causing them to be cast out by their neighbours too. There's a state-funded film with the title 'The Betrayal of G30S/PKI' with dramatic depiction of the killed generals' heroism and the communists' barbarism. The film was full with blood and it was a mandatory screening for school children every September the 30th. In another words, it's a constant exposure to anti-communist indoctrination for Indonesians since they're young to their deaths.

By the way, Suharto called his reign as the 'New Order' to put it in contrast with what he called Sukarno's 'Old Order'. People think after the 'New Order' is over, at least the Red Scare would go away too. It's so strange that it stays and, arguably, is getting stronger. This stops people from actually having open access and discussion of communist and overall, leftist ideas. It is a taboo topic. It shouldn't though, considering the capitalist hellhole we are living now. So, I've been wondering what is causing this Red Scare to continue to linger on the micro level. We've talked about the macro level, state propaganda yadda, yadda. But what's actually on people's mind.

So I'm making an imaginary dialogue, some based on real arguments I've heard from people in real life, some are what I think would be their rationalisation of their arguments. Here it is.

The Dialogue


I just thought 'Damn, why people in Indonesia still hate communism so much. It sucks. Why the hell they still hate it!?' and trying to answer the question by making a short imaginary Q & A dialogue. It turned into this wall of text, a whole essay.