During the six-month period from October 1965 to March 1966, approximately half a million people were killed in a series of massacres in Indonesia. The victims were largely members of the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI) which until that time had been the largest Communist Party in the non-Communist world. By 1965 it appeared to many observers inside and outside Indonesia that the Party was well-placed to come to power after President Sukarno's departure. The massacres followed an attempted coup d'etat in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, in which the PKI was implicated, at least in the public mind, by circumstance and vigorous military propaganda, and resulted in the Party's destruction. These massacres paved the way for the accession to power of a business-oriented and military-dominated government under General Suharto.
The Indonesian killings were the work of anti-Communist army units and civilian vigilantes, drawn especially, but by no means exclusively, from religious political parties. Both groups brought to the killing a long-standing hatred of Communism.
The army's hostility dated from the years of armed struggle against the Dutch (1945-1949), when Communist influence had been strong both within army units and among independent irregular troops, or lasykar. The professional soldiers who soon struggled through and up into the top