State Department Documents from Indonesia

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State Department Documents from Indonesia
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[ On July 27, 2001, the National Security Archive posted some pages from a book that was prematurely released by the Government Printing Office. The documents in this book were declassified in 1998 and 1999, and reproduced in this State Department documentary history. The CIA, as well as State Department action officers, prevented the official release of this volume, which was already printed and bound by the GPO. Apparently by mistake, the GPO shipped copies to various GPO bookstores. (Another volume, covering Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus during the years 1964-1968, was not shipped and is still locked up in GPO warehouses.)

These documents shed new light on a controversy that began in 1990. That's when journalist Kathy Kadane wrote an investigative piece about the role of the U.S. Embassy and the CIA in providing lists of names to the forces that were exterminating several hundred thousand Indonesians following the coup in 1965. Two of the exhibits from the Archive's website are reproduced here for easier access as GIF files instead of PDF graphics files, and are also transcribed below for the benefit of web search engines. ]

Document 1, pp. 379-380


179. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State1

Djakarta, December 2, 1965.

1628. For Assist. Sec. Bundy from Amb Green. Ref: Deptel 708, Dec 1, 1965.2

1. This is to confirm my earlier concurrence that we provide Malik with fifty million rupiahs requested by him for the activities of the Kap-Gestapu movement. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

2. The Kap-Gestapu activities to date have been important factor in the army's program, and judging from results, I would say highly successful. This army-inspired but civilian-staffed action group is still carrying burden of current repressive efforts targeted against PKI, particularly in Central Java.

A. Malik is not in charge of the Kap-Gestapu movement. He is, however, one of the key civilian advisers and promoters of the movement. There is no doubt whatsoever that Kap-Gestapu's activity is fully consonant with and coordinated by the army. We have had substantial intelligence reporting to support this.

B. I view this contribution as a means of enhancing Malik's position within the movement. As one of the key civilians, he is responsible for finding funds to finance its activities. Without our contribution Kap-Gestapu will of course continue. On the other hand, there is no doubt that they need money. The latter, despite inflation, is in tight supply, and the comparatively small sum proposed will help considerably.

C. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] Our willingness to assist him in this manner will, I think, represent in Malik's mind our endorsement of his present role in the army's anti-PKI efforts, and will promote good cooperating relations between him and army.

D. The chances of detection or subsequent revelation of our support in this instance are as minimal as any black bag operation can be. [2 lines of source text not declassified]


1.   Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Indonesia, 1963-1965. Secret; Priority; Roger Channel; Special Handling.

2.   [text not declassified] (Ibid.)

180. Memorandum From the Chief, Far East Division, Directorate of Operations, Central Intelligence Agency (Colby) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Bundy)

Washington, December 3, 1965.

[Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files: Job 78-00061R, Indonesia 2/2 -- State Department Liaison (1959-1966); Secret. 4 pages of text not declassified.]

Document 2, pp. 386-387


185. Editorial Note

The question of the role the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia in compiling and providing lists of Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) members to anti-Communists and Indonesian military authorities has been the subject of controversy. In 1990 a journalist interviewed Robert J. Martens, political officer in the Embassy, and then published an article, "U.S. Officials' Lists Aided Indonesia Bloodbath in 60's." (The Washington Post, May 21, 1990) Martens sent a letter to the editor of The Washington Post on June 2, 1990, in which he stated: "It is true that I passed names of the PKI leaders and senior cadre system to non-Communist forces during the six months of chaos between the so-called coup and the ultimate downfall of Sukarno." Martens continued, "the real point, however, is that the names I gave were based entirely -- I repeat entirely -- on the Indonesia Communist press and were available to everyone. This was a senior cadre system of the PKI -- a few thousand at most out of the 3.5 million claimed party members." Martens stressed that these lists of PKI members were "not party rank and file." Martens also stated categorically in his letter that, "I and I alone decided to pass those 'lists' to the non-Communist forces. I neither sought nor was given permission to do so by Ambassador Marshall Green or any other embassy official." Martens concluded with the statement that he did not turn over classified information nor was he the head of an Embassy group that spent 2 years compiling the lists as stated in the article in The Washington Post. He stated that there was no such group.

Between December 17, 1965, and August 10, 1966, the Embassy sent the Department three airgrams listing PKI members. On December 17, 1965, the U.S. Embassy in Djakarta transmitted to the Department airgram A-398 that contained as enclosures lists of the PKI leadership and a compilation on the fate of PKI leaders. The airgram was drafted by Martens who informed the Department that the Embassy had received a number of reports concerning the arrests of prominent PKI leaders, often based on suspect evidence. Martens also cautioned that there was widespread falsification of documents, such as "alleged confessions some of which can be easily detected and some not." He then explained that enclosed in the airgram were two lists. The first was an unclassified list of the PKI leadership bodies (Politburo, Central Committee, Central Control Commission, Central Verification Commission, and Secretariat Central Committee-PKI) with the names of their members as they existed in May 1965. The second enclosure was a "fragmentary compilation on the present whereabouts of PKI leaders based on limited information available." The May 1965 list contained 95 PKI positions (comprising only 67 individuals since PKI members often had multiple positions and one official was identified by two different names). The second list described the whereabouts of 18 PKI leaders of which all but 2 were either dead, arrested, or believed to be arrested. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 12 INDON)

On March 11, 1966, the Embassy sent the Department airgram A-564 which was drafted by Martens and signed by Edward Masters and contained as an enclosure an update on the fate of PKI leadership from the Central Committee, Central Control Commission, Central Verification Commission and Heads of Provincial PKI Organizations who were not members of the Central Committee. The airgram indicated that information on PKI officials "remains extremely fragmentary but sufficient additional information has been received to make a new compilation advisable." The enclosure was a list of 80 PKI leaders and their status. (Ibid., RG 84, Djakarta Embassy Files: Lot 69 F 42, POL 12 PKI)

On August 10, 1966, Ambassador Green sent airgram A-74 to the Department, drafted by Marten and approved by Masters, which provided as an enclosure another update of the fate of PKI leaders. Airgram A-74 provided new information available since March 1966 on 15 senior PKI figures and listed 4 senior PKI officials reported dead and 20 reported imprisoned. This airgram, which was signed by Green, indicated that: "A sanitized [ie. Embassy attribution removed] version of the lists in A-398 has been made available to the Indonesian Government last December [1965] and is apparently being used by Indonesian security authorities who seem to lack even the simplest overt information on PKI leadership at the time (lists of other officials in the PKI affiliates, Partindo and Baperki were also provided to GOI officials at their request)." (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 12 INDON) Partindo was a small left wing party that was closely allied with larger and more influential Baperki, an association of Indonesians of Chinese descent.