INDONESIA: Coffins of 1965 victims raided by mob


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-06-2001

UA-06-2001: Coffins of 1965 victims raided by mob

INDONESIA – terror campaign, death threats, desecration of remains

As reported previously (UA 40/00), 26 victims of the 1965-66 Indonesian massacre were exhumed in November 2000 in the first official opening of a mass grave from that period. The organisation which conducted that exhumation, YPKP (Indonesian Institute for the Study of the 1965-66 Massacre), planned to re-bury the 26 bodies in a low-key, multi-faith ceremony in Kaloran, Temanggung, north of Yogyakarta (Central Java), but were prevented from doing so by a violent group of about 50 persons.

Information from TAPOL verifies that the situation is becoming more tense with the arrival of thousands more who are threatening the lives of YPKP members and occupying their homes. The events of the incident are as follows. Please read and proceed to the urgent action suggested below.


The mass grave in a forest near Wonosobo, Central Java, was exhumed with official permission, and the bodies of 26 victims along with many bullets were uncovered before the YPKP was forced to stop digging. The victims were identified as including 21 persons killed in 1966 by the Indonesian military as part of a nation-wide operation organised by Soeharto to ‘purge’ suspected communists – a massacre that took over one million lives. The bodies were stored in a hospital until they could be re-buried properly.

Two days before the planned re-burial, the organisers had held talks with local officials who said that care should be taken not to allow the ceremony to become ‘too demonstrative’. Agreement was reached to keep the event low-key.

However, in face of threats of physical violence, Irawan Mangunkusuma, an adviser to the central board of YPKP, who was in charge of the ceremony, was forced to go into hiding after his house came under attack.

The ceremony was to have taken place in Kaloran, Tamenggung, Central Java on 25 March after prayers had been said by Muslim, Christian and Buddhist priests, but an incident on the day before compelled the organisers to abandon the re-burial. Members of a group called Forum Ukuwah Islamiya Kaloran (FUIK) announced their intention to prevent the ceremony from taking place.

Early in the morning of the planned reburial, a group of people surrounded the house of Mr. Mangunkusuma, where a number of YPKP members from various parts of Indonesia had gathered for the event. A vehicle standing outside the house was damaged, though police prevented it from being burnt.

Later in the morning, two vehicles with the remains of 7 victims were to have left for Yogyakarta for re-burial in family graves. But before they could depart, a mob of about fifty people surrounded the vehicles and started assaulting the drivers and a member of YPKP. One of the vehicles carrying two bodies succeeded in getting through, but the five coffins on the other vehicle were dragged out, broken into, and the bodies strewn on the ground.

It was later reported by YPKP that the bodies of all the victims were taken into safety and properly buried elsewhere.

The latest news is that the house of Irawan Mangunkusuma has been occupied by fifteen people who were part of the mob that prevented the re-burial from going ahead. A crowd of around three thousand people has since arrived in Kaloran-Temanggung and has been circling his house, many of them brandishing sharp weapons and yelling slogans like ‘Death to Irawan’ and ‘Irawan PKI’ (PKI is the name of the communist party wiped out by Soeharto, and is still used as a tag to label ‘dangerous’ people).


Please write urgently to the President of Indonesia and the head of the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to call on them to protect the YPKP members, to ensure that the organisers of the mob are arrested and prosecuted, and to open up official investigations into the 1965-66 massacre.

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Your Excellency 

I am deeply concerned for the safety of the members of Yayasan Penilitian Korban Pembunuhan 1965/66 (YPKP), who were prevented by a mob from holding a peaceful, multi-religious re-burial ceremony in Kaloran, Tamenggung for 26 victims of the 1965-66 massacre whose remains were exhumed near Wonosobo last November. A group called Forum Ukuwah Islamiya Kaloran (FUIK) openly declared their intention to prevent the ceremony from taking place, and soon after this threat (on the weekend of 24-25 March) the home and car of the organiser were attacked, five coffins containing bodies of the murder victims were broken open, and the bodies strewn onto the ground. 

Recent reports state that fifteen people have occupied the home of the ceremony organiser, Mr. Irawan Mangunkusuma, and that thousands have gathered there, threatening his life. It is believed that Mr. Mangunkusuma is in hiding. 

Clearly this is another attempt to use terror to prevent any reconciliation or investigation into the massacre which claimed the lives of over one million of your citizens. Unless those responsible for this violence and the threat of further violence are prosecuted under the rule of law immediately, this situation could easily turn into a second wave of purges against those calling for justice for the crimes of Soeharto’s regime. 

Please act quickly to ensure the safety of Mr. Mangunkusuma and other YPKP members; to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the violence, desecration and threats; and to establish an independent, internationally supported tribunal through Komnas HAM to investigate the 1965-66 Massacre. 

Yours sincerely 



Mr. Abdurrahman Wahid 
President, Republic of Indonesia 
Presidential Palace, Jakarta 
Istana Negara, Indonesia. 
Fax: (62 21) 345 7782 
SALUTATION: Your Excellency 

Mr. Asmara Nababan 
Secretary General 
Komnas HAM 
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng 
Jakarta Pusat 
FAX: (62 21) 392 5227 
SALUTATION: Dear Mr. Nababan 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-06-2001
Countries : Indonesia,