Indonesia says U.S. text recall OK for relations

JAKARTA, Indonesia, AP

The Indonesian government on Sunday played down Washington’s recall of a state department history book that details the U.S. role in Indonesia’s deadly purge of communists in the ’60s and said it would not affect relations between the two countries.

The book, which is being withdrawn from hundreds of U.S. libraries, contains a State Department cable that spells out a U.S. plan to funnel tens of thousands of dollars to a group that targeted the Indonesian Communist Party for destruction.

The anti-communist campaign helped topple the country’s founding president, Sukarno. His daughter, Megawati Sukarnoputri, became the nation’s new leader this week. Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sulaiman Abdulmanan brushed aside the delicately timed recall of the book and the information contained in it.

“It happened in the past,” Adulmanan said. “We are now looking forward. History is only there to be learned from.”

He also said the incident would not affect U.S.-Indonesia ties. “I am confident there will be no disturbances,” he said.

As many as 500,000 trade unionists, Communist Party members and others were murdered in the army-inspired purge that lasted into 1966.

Ex dictator Suharto took power on the back of the massacres. His 32-year long regime strictly controlled public expression and censored official history books.

Since his ouster in 1998, there has been little debate about the killings or possible U.S. involvement in them.

The withdrawn book quotes a message from the embassy to the State Department as saying that an embassy-prepared list of communist leaders “is apparently being used by Indonesian security authorities who seem to lack even the simplest overt information on PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) leadership”