chapter  11
19 Pages

Abridge and a barrier: Islam, reconciliation, and the 1965 killings in Indonesia


In the wake of the failed coup attempt of 1 October 1965, which the army blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), the army together with religious and nationalist vigilantes perpetrated a wave of mass killings of persons affiliated with the PKI and its affiliate organizations. Approximately 500,000 people were killed and many more were imprisoned without trial and subjected to further persecution once released (Cribb 1990: 14). For the duration of the New Order regime, the government continued to portray all communists as brutal for their alleged role in torturing and murdering the seven military victims of the 1965 coup attempt and for alleged acts of aggression against Islamic groups prior to the killings such as in the land actions of 1964, in which pesantren (Islamic boarding school) lands were targeted (McGregor 2007: 68-74, 100-2, 202-3). Some people thus represented the subsequent killings as a ‘justifiable act of revenge’.1