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Communist Party of Indonesia – Rise – Fall – Growth

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Communism at the beginning of birth is a correction of capitalism in the early nineteenth century, in an atmosphere that assumes that the workers and peasants are only part of the production and more concerned with economic prosperity.

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In subsequent developments, however, there were several internal factions within communism between the communist theorists and communist communists, each of whom had different theories and ways of struggling in the pursuit of a socialist society to go with what he called the utopian society.

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History

The Communist Party of Indonesia’s Movement was founded on the initiative of the Dutch socialist leader, Henk Sneevliet in 1914, under the name Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereeniging (ISDV) (or the Indies Social Democratic Association). The original membership of ISDV consisted mainly of 85 members of the two Dutch socialist parties, the SDAP (Social Democratic Labor Party) and the SDP (Social Democratic Party), who were active in the Indies.

In October 1914 ISDV became active in publishing material in the Dutch language called “Het Vrije Woord” (Suara Merdeka). The editor is Adam Baars. At the time of its creation, ISDV did not propose Indonesian independence.

At that time, ISDV had about 100 members, of which only three were indigenous Indonesians. Nevertheless, this party quickly developed into a radical and anti-capitalist. Under the leadership of Sneevliet this party was disappointed with the leadership of SDAP in the Netherlands, and who exclude themselves from ISDV. In 1917, the reformist group of ISDV separated and formed its own party, the Social Democratic Party of the Indies.

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In 1917 ISDV issued its own printing in Malay called “Soeara Merdeka”. Under Sneevliet’s leadership, the ISDV is convinced that the October Revolution that happened as it did in Russia must be followed by Indonesia. The group attempt to acquired followers among Dutch soldiers and sailors located in the Dutch East Indies. The “Red Guard” was formed and within three months they had reached 3,000. In 1918, the soldiers and sailors staged a rebellion in Surabaya, a major naval base in Indonesia at the time, and initiated a Soviet Council. The colonial rulers destroyed the Soviet councils in Surabaya and ISDV. The ISDV leaders were expunged back to the Netherlands, including Sneevliet.

The rebel leaders of the Dutch military were sentenced to up to 40 years in jail. ISDV then continues its activities, albeit by moving underground. The organization then published another issue, Soeara Ra’jat. After a number of Dutch cadres were forcibly removed, coupled with work among the Sarekat Islam publication, membership of this organization also began to change from the majority of Dutch citizens to the majority of Indonesians.

The ideology of communism in China is somewhat different from Marxism-Leninism adopted by the former Soviet Union. Mao Zedong united the ancient philosophies of China with Marxism which he later referred to as Maoism. The fundamental difference between Chinese communism and communism in other countries is that communism in China is more concerned with the role of peasants than workers. This is due to China’s special conditions in which labor is regarded as an integral part of capitalism. Hence Indonesia Communists party is similar to that of China

Establishment and Growth of PKI in Indonesia

In the period leading up to the sixth congress of the Sarekat Islam in 1921, members became aware of Sneevliet’s strategy and took steps to stop it. Agus Salim, the secretary of the organization, introduced a decree to prohibit SI (Sarekat Islam) members from holding memberships and double position from other parties in the struggle of the Indonesian movement.

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At the ISDV Congress in Semarang 1930, the name of the organization was changed to the Communist United in the Indies. Semaun is the party organizer and Darsono acts as vice chairman. The secretary, treasurer, and four of the six committee members were Dutch. Henk Sneefliet comes on the behalf of the party at the second congress of the 1921 Communist International.

The decision, of course, left the communist members disappointed and out of the party, like the opposition from Tan Malaka and Semaun who also came out of the movement due to the disappointment of the changing tactics in the struggle for Indonesian movement. At the same time, the Dutch colonial government imposed restrictions on political activity, and the Sarekat Islam concluded to immerse more into religious fields, abandoning the communists as the sole active nationalist organization.

Together with far away Semaun in Moscow who is participating the Far Eastern Labor Conference in early 1923, Tan Malaka attempt to reform the mass strikes against government own pawnshops office into a national strike to represent all Indonesian trade unions. This turned out to be a massive failure, Tan Malaka was then arrested and given a choice between internal and external seclusion. He chose the latter and left for Russia.

See Also; Indonesian Democracy – Indonesian Politics

In May 1922, Semaun returned after seven months in Russia and began organizing all unions in one organization. On September 22, the All-Indonesia Workers Union (Vatbonded Indies Union) was formed. At the Fifth Comintern Congress in 1924, he stressed that “the main priority of the communist parties is to gain control of the union of labor” because there can be no successful revolution without this working-class union

In 1924 the name of the party was once again changed, this time being the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

1. The 1926 Rebellion

In May 1925, the Executive Committee in a plenary session ordered Communist Party of Indonesia to form an anti-imperialist front united with a non-communist nationalist organization, but the extremist elements controlled by Alimin & Musso requests for a revolution to expelled the Dutch colonial government. At a conference in Prambanan, Central Java, the communist-controlled trade union decides that the revolution will begin with strikes by railroad workers who will signal a more general and broad strike for then the revolution will begin. This would lead to a PKI that would replace the colonial governmentIn November 1926 the PKI staged a rebellion towards the colonial government in West Java and West Sumatra. The PKI proclaim the initiation of a republic. Together with

In November 1926 the PKI staged a rebellion towards the colonial government in West Java and West Sumatra. The PKI proclaim the initiation of a republic. Together with Alimin, Musso who was one of the leaders of the PKI in that era was currently not in Indonesia. He is in talks with Tan Malaka who disagrees with the insurgency.

This rebellion was eventually brutally destroyed by the colonial rulers. Thousands were killed and about 13,000 were arrested, 4,500 were jailed, some 1,308 were commonly exiled party cadres, and 823 were sent to Boven Digul, a detention camp in Papua. Some people died in custody. Many non-communist political activists were also subjected to colonial rule, arguing against the communist insurrection. In 1927 the PKI was prohibited by the Dutch government. Therefore, the PKI activity then moved underground.

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The revolt plan itself has been designed for a long time. Namely in the secret negotiations of PKI activists in Prambanan. The plan was strictly rejected by Tan Malaka, one of the main PKI figures who had many followers, especially in Sumatra. Tan Malaka predicts that the insurgency will fail because he thinks the Indonesian proletariat’s base is a non-labor peasant population as in the Soviet Union. The rejection made Tan Malaka captured as a follower of Leon Trotsky who was also a central figure in the struggle of the Russian Revolution. Nevertheless, some PKI actions actually occurred after the rebellion in Java took place. Such as Silungkang Rebellion in Sumatra.

In the early days of this prohibition, the PKI tried not to stand out, especially as many of its leaders were imprisoned. In 1935 the PKI leader Musso returned from exile in Moscow, the Soviet Union, to reorganize the PKI in its underground movements. But Musso only stayed briefly in Indonesia. The PKI then moved on various fronts, such as Gerindo and the trade unions. In the Netherlands, the PKI began to move among Indonesian students among the nationalist organizations, Perhimpoenan Indonesia, who soon sided with the PKI.

2. The post-war renaissance

The PKI resurfaced on the political arena soon after the Japanese unconditional surrender in 1945 and frequently involved in the fight for independence from the Dutch. Various armed units are under the auspices or orders of the PKI. In addition, the PKI militia has an essentials role in the struggle towards the Dutch, President Sukarno cautioned that the enhances control of the PKI would finally threaten its position.

Hence, the development of the PKI worried the far-right sector of the Indonesian government as well as some foreign powers, essentially, the full anti-communist propaganda of the United States. Hence the relationship among the PKI and other forces that also struggle for independence, in effect, turn brutal.

Hence, the development of the PKI worried the far-right sector of the Indonesian government as well as some foreign powers, essentially, the full anti-communist propaganda of the United States. Hence the relationship among the PKI and other forces that also struggle for independence, in effect, turn brutal.

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In February 1948 the PKI and the Socialist Party formed a common front, the People’s Democratic Front. This Front only exists temporarily, but the Socialist Party later joined the PKI. At that time the militia was under the control of the PKI.

On August 11, 1948, Musso returned to Jakarta after thirteen years in the Soviet Union. The PKI Politburo was rebuild, including D.N. Aidit, M.H. Lukman and Njoto. On September 5, 1948, he gave a speech of suggestion for Indonesia to be close to the Soviet Union. And the suggestion led to the PKI rebellion in Madiun, East Java.

3. Madiun Events 1948

Following the signing of the Renville Agreement in 1948, the outcome of the Renville negotiating agreement was seen as favorable to the Dutch position. On the contrary, Indonesia becomes the disadvantaged party with smaller the territory it owns. Many Republican armed units return from conflict zones. This gave some of the right-wing beliefs of Indonesia that they would be able to rival the PKI militarily. Guerrilla units and militia under the control of the PKI were told to dissolve. In Madiun the PKI military group rejected to went ahead with the disbandment of the members who were murdered in September of the same year.

The killing sparked a violent insurgency. This gives an excuse for pressuring the PKI. It is claimed by military sources that the PKI has declared the proclamation of the ‘Soviet Republic of Indonesia’ on September 18 by calling Musso as president and Amir Syarifuddin as prime minister. At the same time, the PKI condemned the rebellion and asked for calm. On September 30 Madiun was taken over by the TNI from the Siliwangi Division.

Thousands of party cadres were killed and 36.000 were imprisoned. Among the executed leaders included Musso who was murdered on October 31 when caught in Niten Village, Sumorejo Subdistrict, Ponorogo. Allegedly when Musso tried to escape from prison. Aidit and Lukman went into exile in the People’s Republic of China. However, the PKI was not abolished and allowed to function. The rebuilding of the party began in 1949.

4. The Mass Killings and the End of the PKI

Sukarno acted a balance between the PKI, the military, the nationalist factions, and the Islamic groups threatened by the popularity of the PKI. The growing influence of the PKI raises concerns for the United States and other anti-communist western powers. The political and economic situation becomes more unstable; Annual inflation reached more than 600 percent and Indonesian life deteriorated.

The PKI was felt by the political circles, a few months before the G30S, was getting stronger. So that the PKI’s competitors began to fear the PKI would win the next election. Movements against the PKI began to emerge and were pioneered by the Army. In December 1964, Chaerul Saleh of the Murba Party (formed by former PKI leader Tan Malaka) stated that the PKI was preparing a coup d’etat. The PKI demanded a ban on the Murba Party, the demand was imposed on Soekarno in early 1965.

In the context of Confrontation with Malaysia, the PKI called for ‘arming the people’. Most of the army’s troops forbid this. Sukarno’s attitude remained officially not to take much of the position because Sukarno tended to support Confrontation with Malaysia like the PKI. In July around 2000 PKI members began exhibiting military practice near the Halim air base. Mainly in the concept of ‘militarizing the people’ who have won much-needed approval between the Air Force and Navy military. On September 8, the PKI demonstrators begin a two-day siege at the US Consulate in Surabaya.

See Also: Indonesian Navy Strength – History of Indonesian National Anthem

On September 14, Aidit addressed PKI guerrillas to urge members to be alert of things to come. On September 30 Pemuda Rakyat and Gerwani, the two related PKI organizations staged a mass rally in Jakarta against the inflationary crisis that struck.


On the night of 30 September and 1 October 1965, six senior Indonesian generals were killed and their corpses were thrown into the abandoned well. The killers of the generals announced the next day that the new Revolutionary Council had seized power, calling itself the “September 30 Movement” (G30S). With the number of senior soldiers who died or disappeared, General Suharto took the army leadership and declared a failed coup October 2.

The army hastily pointed the PKI coup attempt and commencing it with a campaign of anti-Communist propaganda throughout Indonesia. The proof connecting the PKI to the slaughter of generals was incomplete, causing to speculation that their involvement was limited, or that Suharto perpetrated the events, Wholly or partially, and scapegoat to the communists. In the anti-communist purge through subsequent violence, an estimated 500,000 communists (or suspected) were killed, and the PKI effectively destroyed. General Soeharto then defeated Soekarno politically and was elected president in 1968, consolidating his influence over the military and government.

Characteristic of Communists Party

In general communism is grounded in the theory of Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism and therefore does not rest on the mythical, superstitious and religious beliefs thus there is no doctrine given to its people, on the principle that “religion is considered opium” that makes people wishful thinking that limits their people from thinking for Other ideologies because they are considered irrational and out of the real (material truth).

Communist is also a closed political system, in which freedom of association, including the establishment of a political party, does not exist. In the communist political system, there is usually only one legal and standing party, the Communist Party. Party is identical with the government. Other parties are abolished and if they are already standing, they will be dissolved.

Growth in a New Era

Despite the sporadic resistance, the PKI stood paralyzed after the 1965-1966 assassination. As a result of this massacre, the party leadership was paralyzed at all levels, leaving behind many former supporters and sympathizers disappointment, no leader at the party and disorganized thoroughly. In September 1966, the remnants of the politburo party issued a self-criticism statement, criticizing previous cooperation with the Sukarno regime.After the killing of

After the killing of Aidit and Njoto, Sudisman, the PKI leader at the fourth level before October 1963, took over the leadership of the party. He sought to rebuild the party on the basis of the interdependence of the three member groups but had a little impact before he was finally arrested in December 1966. In 1967 he was sentenced to death.

Some PKI cadres have been displaced in a remote area in southern Blitar, East Java following violence against the party. Among the leaders present in Blitar were members of the Rewang Politburo, party theorist Oloan Hutapea, and East Java leader Ruslan Widjajasastra. Blitar is a lagging region with a PKI that has strong support among the peasants. The military did not realize that the PKI had been able to consolidate itself there.

These PKI leaders joined forces with Lieutenant Colonel Prabomo, former Pandeglang Military District commander in West Java, who helped provide military training for the local Communists in Blitar. But in March 1968 violence erupted in Blitar, local farmers attacked Nahdatul Ulama leaders and cadres, in retaliation for Nahdatul Ulama who had played a role in the anti-communist persecution. About 60 NU cadres were killed. The military realized the PKI enclave in Blitar and destroyed it in mid-1968.

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Some temporary PKI cadres reside outside Indonesia during the Sept. 30 incident. Especially large delegates traveled to the People’s Republic of China to participate in the anniversary of the Chinese Revolution. Others have left Indonesia to continue their studies in Eastern Europe. In exile, the party apparatus continues to function. However, most of them are isolated from political developments within Indonesia.


In Java, some villages are known as refuges for members or sympathizers that have been identified by the authorities and are protected under careful supervision for sufficient time.Until 2004, former members of the PKI were still banned and blacklisted from many occupations including if they wanted to work in government, as was the policy of the Soeharto regime that had been carried out since the 1967 PKI cleansing. During the time of President Abdurrahman Wahid, he urged the former PKI exiles to return to Indonesia in 1999 and proposed eliminating banning on open discussion of communist tenets.

Until 2004, former members of the PKI were still banned and blacklisted from many occupations including if they wanted to work in government, as was the policy of the Soeharto regime that had been carried out since the 1967 PKI cleansing. During the time of President Abdurrahman Wahid, he urged the former PKI exiles to return to Indonesia in 1999 and proposed eliminating banning on open discussion of communist tenets.

In defending for the elimination of the ban, Wahid refers for Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution, which does not restrict or let alone especially include communism. Gus Dur initiative was rejected by some groups of Indonesian society, mainly conservative Islamic groups. In a demonstration in Mei 2000, a group representing the Islamic Front of Indonesia totaling thousands of people arrive in Jakarta on Gus Dur’s proposal. The army did not hastily opposed the initiative but pledged exhaustive and complete research of the idea

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The Communist Party of Indonesia still remained a dark era in Indonesia history due to its massive consequences that still reverberated into today’s society. Communism can’t go hand in hand with democracy, hence the abolishment of Communism is important in the development of Indonesia towards greater development and social justice for all people.

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Kategori : Governance, Politic