Anti-communist protesters surround the office of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation. Source: Legal Aid Foundation's Twitter account.
Hundreds of anti-communist protesters in Indonesia surrounded the office of a human rights group which was discussing the events in 1965 and 1966 that led to the killing of at least half a million suspected communists in the country.
The mob, which accused Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) of supporting the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), disrupted the activity and clashed with the police who tried to disperse the crowd.
The day before, on September 16, 2017, the police themselves had prevented LBH from holding a seminar under the theme “Revealing Historical Truth about the 1965-66 Events” by blockading the entrance of the venue in Jakarta, the country’s capital. Authorities claimed the organizers had failed to secure a permit.
Some of the speakers of the seminar were prevented by the police from entering the LBH office as shown in the photos below:
In response, LBH organized the cultural event inside their own office building, titled “Asik Asik Aksi: Darurat Demokrasi” (Fun and Action: Democratic Emergency), which became the target of the anti-communist protesters.
An anti-communist hysteria swept the country in 1965, which led to the rise of General Suharto. During his three-decade rule, Suharto banned the Indonesian Communist Party and the publication of Marxist and other communist books. Even the use of communist symbols like the hammer and sickle is outlawed up to this day.
Suharto also prevented scholars and the public from probing the role of the military and other state forces in the massacre. In recent years, human rights groups have petitioned the government to review the 1965 massacre and give justice to thousands of victims who were imprisoned and killed because of mere suspicion that they were communists. Some of the victims are still living and have already given testimonies about the suffering they endured.
In 2015, the government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo welcomed the proposal to launch a reconciliation commission about the massacre.