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Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence


As can be seen in the accounts of witnesses and victims in the two previous sections, one important aspect of the 1965 tragedy in Indonesia is religion. Apart from the fact that many witnesses and victims view what they witnessed or experienced from a religious perspective, it is also evident that there is a connection between the crisis of 1965 and existing religious organizations. As we know, one of the elements that drove the murders and mass arrests at the time was the accusation that the members of the Communist Party and sympathizers were ‘atheists’. In Central Java, East Java, Bali and Eastern Indonesia, this element was very strong.

In connection with the events of 1965–1966, religious organizations took varied stands and held varied points of view. Some fully supported the military and social actions of the time, some opposed them, and some responded with a mixture of both support and opposition. In many cases, there was diversity in the official stand and concrete action in the field in facing the massive wave of violence at that time.

In the following section, you are are invited to read the research findings about the attitude of one religious institution, the Catholic church, towards this humanitarian tragedy. The research attempts to show the official attitude of the Catholic leadership in Indonesia, in Yogyakarta in particular, towards the political dynamics and all the violence that was going on, and also the attitude and actions of Catholics beyond the official Church hierarchy.

The research and reports were carried out by two researchers from the generation that grew up after the 1965 tragedy. Neither of them were witnesses or victims. It is hoped that this position of theirs will add a different perspective and understanding of the 1965 tragedy to that which has been conveyed by witnesses and victims.

Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence

   by Dr. Baskara T. Wardaya SJ