Communist Party of Indonesia

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Communist Party of Indonesia

Founded23 May 1914
Banned5 July 1966
Membership (1965)3,000,000
Political orientationMarxism-Leninism
International affiliationThird International (1919–1943)

The Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia) was a communist party in Indonesia. Founded in 1920, it eventually grew to three million members in 1960 and 16% of the national vote in 1955.[1]


Much of the PKI's leadership died in a failed revolution in 1948.[2]:152

Between 1951 and 1964, the party grew from 5,000 to two million members in addition to 15 million members of its mass organizations, including 7.5 million in the Indonesian Peasants' Front. It was based in east and central Java but spread to other islands in the 1950s. The 1953 Central Committee members were all in their thirties, including General Secretary Aidit, who was 31.[3] By 1955, 30% of soldiers were PKI members.[2]:153

Revolutionary activities

In February 1965, the Plantation Workers' Union seized land occupied by the US Rubber Company in North Sumatra. In 1965, the party gained a million members and reached 18 million in its mass organizations.[3]

Mass killings

In 1965, the far-right dictator Suharto came to power in a CIA coup and overthrew the democratically elected Sukarno.[4] The CIA provided Suharto with lists of suspected communists,[5] and he killed at a million people in 1965 and 1966, including Aidit. Many anti-communist militias only had two or three days of training.[3]

The Communist Party of Indonesia was banned in 1966, and the CIA secretly admitted that Suharto's purges were "one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century."[6] The party was unable to defend itself because it was unarmed.[3]


  1. Alex de Jong (2019-02-01). "The Indonesian Counter-Revolution" Jacobin.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Vijay Prashad (2008). The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World: 'Bali'. [PDF] The New Press. ISBN 9781595583420 [LG]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Vijay Prashad (2017). Red Star over the Third World: 'Polycentric Communism' (pp. 119–121). [PDF] New Delhi: LeftWord Books.
  4. Steve Kangas. "A Timeline of CIA Atrocities"
  5. Geoffrey B. Robinson (2018). The Killing Season. ISBN 9780691161389
  6. David F. Schmitz (2006). The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships (p. 48). [PDF] Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521678537