If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever. ~George Orwell
It was the 1960s. A time when the hippie mantra of free love was being spread in the west by LSD loving rock groups like the Grateful Dead.
Over here in Indonesia things weren’t quite so lush however, and an increasingly bitter struggle between leftist (communist) groups and their nationalist adversaries was set to culminate in the bizarre and tragic G30S “event” which set forth a savage orgy of killing in which up to one million communists were “purged”.
The G30S event - so called because it took place on 30 September 1965 - involved the murder of seven army generals.
But this was no ordinary murder mystery - far from it.
The backdrop to the murders was the increasing strength of the Indonesian communist party (PKI), whom Sukarno had incorporated into his “inclusive” NASACOM philosophy – an intrinsically unstable mix of nationalist, religious (primarily Islam) and communist interests.
Hell-bent on seizing power, the communists were making increasingly outrageous demands and in May 1965 they asked Sukarno to be provided with arms.
Despite strong opposition from the army, Sukarno agreed but also told them they would have to be trained.
This called for the establishment of a "fifth force", in addition to the three armed forces and the police, to be made up of workers and peasants. Training commenced at the swampy region near Halim called Lubang Buaya. It was under the control of Major Sujono, commander of the Halim base ground defense[. Among the participants were members of the PKI-affiliated youth group Pemuda Rakyat.
The reason why communists want to be armed is not exactly a closely guarded secret. But violent communist revolution is an unpleasant thing - just ask the Cambodians about that. A lot of blood gets spilt. Yet Sukarno had still agreed to arm them! I wonder why he hadn’t thought that the communists were up to something bad?
According to the official version of events, three of the seven army generals were killed whilst being kidnapped whilst the other four were taken alive and brought to Lubang Buaya and then murdered.
Quite why the communists chose to murder the generals before they were ready to undertake their bloody revolution raises a few questions of course. Like why hadn’t they waited until their training was over and they were all armed?
The murders of the generals were carried out in bizarre and chilling fashion. Even the contemporary Indonesian horror flicks which intertwine a rich sexual narrative with gruesome murders fall well short of what happened at Lubang Buaya:
… the Gerwani (women cadets of the Indonesian Communist Party) had mocked the Generals before they killed them by "playing with and fondling the genitals of the victims while at the same time displaying their own..." (Angkatan Bersendjata, 9 October 1965).
… Gerwani women were issued with small knives and razor blades which they used to slash and hack at the genitals of the captured Generals (Angkatan Bersendjata 5 November 1965).
…in the months leading up to the killings, the Gerwani and Pemuda Rakyat members at Lubang Buaya had "indulged in delirious sexual orgies which the ancient Romans under Nero would have been jealous of" (Antara 8 December 1965, morning edition).
… the Gerwani members were frequently injected with drugs to stimulate their libidos. As Saina (a captured Gerwani member explained), after receiving the injections she was "overcome with an irrisistable (sic) desire to indulge in all kinds of immoral acts" (Antara, 8 December 1965, morning edition).
You couldn’t make it up could you?
From left to right:
Brigadier General, Sutoyo Siswomiharjo
Brigadier General, Donald Izacus Panjaitan
Major General, R. Suprapto
Army commander Lieutenant, General Ahmad Yani
Major General, M. T. Haryono
Major General, Siswondo Parman
First Lieutenant, Pierre Tandean
Army commander Lieutenant, General Ahmad Yani pointing toward the well, about 20 meters in front of the statue, where the communists buried the bodies.
The front of the platform on which the statues stand is a bronze frieze that depicts the horrific and cruel acts of the communists.
Nearby the statue are the small living quarters of the communists, complete with original furniture, lamps etc. Inside is this sign:
Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to visit the "Museum of PKI Treason".
Maybe next time :)
Further reading: Lubang Buaya: Myth, Misogyny and Massacre.