[Congressional Record Volume 161, Number 173 (Tuesday, December 1, 2015)]
[Pages S8235-S8236]


  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, the realignment toward Asia has focused our 
attention on partnerships with countries in the region. We share 
political, economic, security, and humanitarian interests, creating 
complex and multidimensional relationships. But our commitment to the 
protection and promotion of human rights must continue to be a 
foundation for our relations with these countries, as with others 
around the world. We must continue to advocate for open societies where 
dialogue and dissent are encouraged and where security forces are 
professional and accountable. At the same time, we cannot ignore 
  Fifty years ago, under the guise of a state-sanctioned Communist 
purge, hundreds of thousands of Indonesian men, women, and children 
were murdered. Many more were rounded up and led to concentration camps 
where they were imprisoned, and many were tortured by the security 
forces of a dictatorial and brutal regime that had the backing of the 
United States. It has been widely recognized as one of the worst mass 
atrocities of the 20th century, but efforts to establish a truth and 
reconciliation commission to come to terms with these crimes have 
stalled at every turn. The atrocities are still not recognized or 
discussed by the Indonesian Government, and the perpetrators were long 
celebrated as heroes for their actions.
  The United States should lead by example in acknowledging this tragic 
history and reaffirm that human rights are at the forefront of our 
strategic relationships in Indonesia and beyond. As the most senior 
member of the Appropriations Committee, I have supported conditions on 
foreign assistance, including requiring recipient countries to protect 
freedoms of expression and association, respect the rule of law and due 
process, reform their judicial systems and security forces, and 
strengthen other key elements of a democratic society.
  Through the ``Leahy Law,'' I have sought to encourage reform of 
Indonesia's military and police forces, promote cooperation with 
civilian authorities, and hold human rights violators accountable. I 
have also supported efforts to demilitarize West Papua and stop the 
human rights violations associated with the militarization of that 
  Unfortunately, while Indonesia has made important economic and 
political strides since the systemic repression of the Suharto years, 
impunity for the horrific crimes of the 1960s and during the final 
years of the independence struggle in East Timor remain glaring 
examples of unfinished business that are inconsistent with a democratic 
society based on the principle that no one is above the law.
  We need to recognize the role of our own government in this history, 
declassify relevant documents, and urge the Indonesian Government to 
acknowledge the massacres and establish a credible truth and justice 
  I ask unanimous consent that a poignant opinion piece on this subject 
that was published in the New Yorker on September 29, 2015, be printed 
in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                 [From the New Yorker, Sept. 29, 2015]

                  Suharto's Purge, Indonesia's Silence

                        (By Joshua Oppenheimer)

       This week marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of a 
     mass slaughter in Indonesia. With American support, more than 
     500,000 people were murdered by the Indonesian Army and its 
     civilian death squads. At least 750,000 more were tortured 
     and sent to concentration camps, many for decades.
       The victims were accused of being ``communists,'' an 
     umbrella that included not only members of the legally 
     registered Communist Party, but all likely opponents of 
     Suharto's new military regime--from union members and women's 
     rights activists to teachers and the ethnic Chinese. Unlike 
     in Germany, Rwanda or Cambodia, there have been no trials, no 
     truth-and-reconciliation commissions, no memorials to the 
     victims. Instead, many perpetrators still hold power 
     throughout the country.
       Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous nation, and 
     if it is to become the democracy it claims to be, this 
     impunity must end. The anniversary is a moment for the United 
     States to support Indonesia's democratic transition by 
     acknowledging the 1965 genocide, and encouraging a process of 
     truth, reconciliation and justice.
       On Oct. 1, 1965, six army generals in Jakarta were killed 
     by a group of disaffected junior officers. Maj. Gen. Suharto 
     assumed command of the armed forces, blamed the killings on 
     the leftists, and set in motion a killing machine. Millions 
     of people associated with left-leaning organizations were 
     targeted, and the nation dissolved into terror--people even 
     stopped eating fish for fear that fish were eating corpses. 
     Suharto usurped President Sukarno's authority and established 
     himself as de facto president by March 1966. From the very 
     beginning, he enjoyed the full support of the United States.
       I've spent 12 years investigating the terrible legacy of 
     the genocide, creating two documentary films, ``The Act of 
     Killing'' in 2013 and ``The Look of Silence,'' released 
     earlier this year. I began in 2003, working with a family of 
     survivors. We wanted to show what it is like to live 
     surrounded by still-powerful perpetrators who had murdered 
     your loved ones.
       The family gathered other survivors to tell their stories, 
     but the army warned them not to participate. Many survivors 
     urged me not to give up and suggested that I film 
     perpetrators in hopes that they would reveal details of the 
       I did not know if it was safe to approach the killers, but 
     when I did, I found them open. They offered boastful accounts 
     of the killings, often with smiles on their faces and in 
     front of their grandchildren. I felt I had wandered into 
     Germany 40 years after the Holocaust, only to find the Nazis 
     still in power.
       Today, former political prisoners from this era still face 
     discrimination and threats. Gatherings of elderly survivors 
     are regularly attacked by military-backed thugs. 
     Schoolchildren are still taught that the ``extermination of 
     the communists'' was heroic, and that victims' families 
     should be monitored for disloyalty. This official history, in 
     effect, legitimizes violence against a whole segment of 
       The purpose of such intimidation is to create a climate of 
     fear in which corruption and plunder go unchallenged. 
     Inevitably in such an atmosphere, human rights violations 
     have continued since 1965, including the 1975-1999 occupation 
     of East Timor, where enforced starvation contributed to the 
     killing of nearly a third of the population, as well as 
     torture and extrajudicial killing that go on in West Papua 
       Military rule in Indonesia formally ended in 1998, but the 
     army remains above the law. If a general orders an entire 
     village massacred, he cannot be tried in civilian courts. The 
     only way he could face justice is if the army itself convenes 
     a military tribunal, or if Parliament establishes a special 
     human rights court--something it has never done fairly and 
     effectively. With the military not subject to law, a shadow 
     state of paramilitaries and intelligence agencies has formed 
     around it. This shadow state continues to intimidate the 
     public into silence while, together with its business 
     partners, it loots the national wealth.
       Indonesia can hold regular elections, but if the laws do 
     not apply to the most powerful elements in society, then 
     there is no rule of law, and no genuine democracy. The 
     country will never become a true democracy until it takes 
     serious steps to end impunity. An essential start is a 
     process of truth, reconciliation and justice.
       This may still be possible. The Indonesian media, which 
     used to shy from discussing the genocide, now refers to the 
     killings as crimes against humanity, and grassroots activism 
     has taken hold. The current president, Joko Widodo, indicated 
     he would address the 1965 massacre, but he has not 
     established a truth commission, issued a national apology, or 
     taken any other steps to end the military's impunity.
       We need truth and accountability from the United States as 
     well. U.S. involvement dates at least to an April 1962 
     meeting between American and British officials resulting in 
     the decision to ``liquidate'' President Sukarno, the 
     populist--but not communist--founding father of Indonesia. As 
     a founder of the nonaligned movement, Sukarno favored 
     socialist policies; Washington wanted to replace him with 
     someone more deferential to Western strategic and commercial 
       The United States conducted covert operations to 
     destabilize Sukarno and strengthen the military. Then, when 
     genocide broke out, America provided equipment, weapons and 
     money. The United States compiled lists containing thousands 
     of names of public figures likely to oppose the new military 
     regime, and handed them over to the Indonesian military, 
     presumably with the expectation that they would be killed. 
     Western aid to Suharto's dictatorship, ultimately amounting 
     to tens of billions of dollars, began flowing while corpses 
     still clogged Indonesia's rivers. The American media 
     celebrated Suharto's rise and his campaign of death. Time 
     magazine said it was the ``best news for years in Asia.''
       But the extent of America's role remains hidden behind a 
     wall of secrecy: C.I.A. documents and U.S. defense attach 
     papers remain classified. Numerous Freedom of Information Act 
     requests for these documents have been denied. Senator Tom 
     Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, will soon reintroduce a 
     resolution that, if passed, would acknowledge America's role 
     in the atrocities, call for declassification of all relevant 
     documents, and urge the Indonesian government to acknowledge 
     the massacres and establish a truth commission. If the U.S. 
     government recognizes the genocide publicly, acknowledges its

[[Page S8236]]

     role in the crimes, and releases all documents pertaining to 
     the issue, it will encourage the Indonesian government to do 
     the same.
       This anniversary should be a reminder that although we want 
     to move on, although nothing will wake the dead or make whole 
     what has been broken, we must stop, honor the lives 
     destroyed, acknowledge our role in the destruction, and allow 
     the healing process to begin.