The Dutch controlled Indonesia from about 1800 until the Second World War, when the Japanese occupied the Indonesian islands and supported the nationalist movements in their fight against Dutch colonialism.
After the war had finished, nationalist hero Sukarno became the leader of independent Indonesia. After a period of chaotic liberal democracy, he started a ‘guided democracy’ in 1959. This period of “Nasakom” aimed to balance the influence of nationalism, religion, and communism. Two years later, he founded the Non-Aligned Movement alongside other independent figures of the time such as Nkrumah, Nasser, Tito, and Nehru.
Due to his protection of communists in Indonesia, his anti-imperialist policies, and his acceptance of aid from the USSR and China (though he also received aid from the US) he made powerful enemies both within Indonesia and in the Western world.
A failed coup, supposedly aimed at preventing a CIA-backed power-play in the country, was blamed on communists by the military. Soon after, anti-communist paramilitary groups and the military led a violent repression of all left-wing groups. Between 1965 and 1966, an estimated 500,000 people were killed in this ‘anti-communist purge’.
Power was ‘transferred’ to General Suharto in 1967, and Sukarno was placed under house arrest until his death in 1970. The USA backed the Indonesian military in this period, and in the subsequent years of military dictatorship.
Though democratic government returned in 1998, impunity reigns for those involved in the 1965-66 massacres.
The documentary “The Act of Killing” shows how these events had a profound impact on Indonesian society. The case of Indonesia is yet another example of the horrors that the USA was prepared to support in their fight against the spread of communism.
See the film here: http://www.solarmovie.so/link/play/1486528/