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The extent of the US involvement in the rise to power of General Suharto is still being debated. Whether by direct involvement or through complicity the US sanctioned the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people who were the victims of politcal killings under a regime that received funding for military activities from the US government. The full version of the BBC article excerpted below can be found at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1461859.stm

July, 2001 - The US Government has raced to withdraw all copies of a State Department history book that details America's role in Indonesia's bloody campaign against communists in the 1960s.

The book documents the US's support of a purge of the archipelago in 1965 and 1966 in which up to one million people are thought to have died, following an abortive coup by a group of air force officers in 1965 - known as the Year of Living Dangerously.

The campaign brought General Suharto to power as the country's dictator, replacing President Sukarno - whose daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri became president of Indonesia this week.

Mark Mansfield, a spokesman for the US Central Intelligence Agency, told The New York Times that the decision to delay the publication had been made to avoid damaging relations at a time of political turmoil in Indonesia. He said the shipment of the books to Government Printing Office shops was accidental.

George Washington University's National Security Archive, a non-governmental group specialising in US security issues, has published the controversial text on its website.

The history includes key US Government documents from the period, including a message to Washington dated 15 April 1966 from the embassy in Indonesia which admits its confusion.

"We frankly do not know whether the real figure" of communists who have been killed "is closer to 100,000 or 1,000,000 but believe it wiser to err on the side of the lower estimates, especially when questioned by the press", the document says.

The volume also points out that the US embassy provided lists of top communist leaders to the Indonesians who were fighting the PKI, the country's communist party.

Amnesty International has provided some figures on the number of political killings in Indonesia over the last 40 years at: http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/indopub/indoint.htm

Political killings provide the most dramatic evidence of the magnitude of the human rights problem in Indonesia and East Timor. The slaughter which followed the 1965 coup - between 500,000 and one million people were killed - appears to have established a precedent for dealing with political opponents. In East Timor 200,000 people, one third of the population, were killed or died of starvation or disease after Indonesia invaded in 1975. In Aceh some 2,000 civilians were killed between 1989 and 1993 during counter-insurgency operations. Hundreds of people have been extrajudicially executed in Irian Jaya over the past 15 years.

Further reading:

Federation of American Scientists profile on Indonesia
The Indonesian invasion of East Timor
Indonesia and East Timor
Award-winning journalist Allan Nairn