It has been fifty years since the attempted coup in Indonesia which kicked off a series of events that led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Indonesians. The reprisals, urged on by the West, mainly targeted the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), the largest non-ruling Communist Party at the time. Documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer has made two powerful and haunting films about this episode, The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014). [more inside]
The current Indonesian government has proposed that former dictator Suharto be added to the country's official pantheon of heroes. This proposal has been endorsed by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), a party that is explicitly Islamic, despite the fact that Suharto's government by and large suppressed religiosity in the political sphere. Aubrey Belford writes in the NYT about the controversy over this proposal; although Suharto is widely credited with Indonesia's increased prosperity in the decades prior to the Asian economic crisis, he was famously corrupt, violent in his suppression of political components and he led Indonesia during its bloody occupation of East Timor, which some have called a genocide.
Indonesia's former President Mohammed Suharto, who towered over Indonesian politics for 32 years, has died in hospital aged 86. Accused of amassing billions of dollars in ill-gotten wealth for himself, his family and friends, Indonesian officials were never able to find any evidence of this ill-gotten wealth. The BBC remembers him in pictures.
Former President Suharto is ill. This story is being carried on CNN and the BBC, but good luck trying to find any references to genocide or 200'000 dead. MSNBC buries this fact in a flash animation. Remember, according to Western media, not all genocide is bad.
Meanwhile in Indonesia, where speculating about Florida ballots isn't an issue, Tommy Suharto is on the run, and his murderous father is going on trial. Indonesia has a massive Muslim population, a violent (and touchy) army, and a troubled history of ethnic violence; I'm continually worried that it's going to erupt into flames (again).