The Army’s Role
The Army’s Role
This chapter argues that the mass killings of 1965–66 were neither inevitable nor spontaneous. It shows first how the temporal and geographic variations in the pattern of mass killing corresponded closely to the varied political postures and capacities of army commanders in a given locale, and how the army's logistical assets facilitated the killings. Next, it outlines how the army encouraged and carried out mass killings by mobilizing civilian youth groups and death squads, and encouraging them to identify, detain, and kill members of the PKI and their allies. Third, the chapter describes how the army provoked and legitimized mass killings by launching a sophisticated media and propaganda campaign that blamed the PKI for the kidnap and murder of the generals, and called for the party and its affiliates to be physically annihilated. Fourth, it shows how a variety of religious and political leaders embraced and replicated the army's polarizing and retributive language and propaganda, adding their considerable authority to the campaign of violence. Finally, it draws on this evidence to address the critical question of responsibility.
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