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Saturday, 28 July, 2001, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
US blocks Indonesia history revelations
Former President Sukarno
President Sukarno was brought down in the purge
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 chances of detection ... of our support in this instance are as minimal as any black bag operation can be

US official document
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.

Embarrassing mistake

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.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri
Megawati visiting her father's grave last week
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.

Death lists

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.

Another memo documents a US plan to stream tens of thousands of dollars to a civilian with links to a group intent on destroying the PKI.

"This is to confirm my earlier concurrence that we provide Malik with 50m rupiahs requested by him for the activities of the Kap-Gestapu movement," says a 2 December 1965 document from the US ambassador in Indonesia to William P Bundy, then assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

"The chances of detection or subsequent revelation of our support in this instance are as minimal as any black bag operation can be," the document concluded.

The National Security Archive says the documents used in the book were officially declassified in 1998 and 1999.

See also:

14 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mass killing probe
23 Jul 01 | Media reports
Megawati's acceptance speech: Text
24 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Press review: Indonesia under Megawati
26 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's sacked leader quits country
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