Forum on anti-communist purge in Indonesia laudable

By Yu Jincui Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-20 0:38:01

Indonesia on Tuesday concluded a two-day symposium on the mass killings of people accused of being communist sympathizers half a century ago, the first time that a public discussion of the event had been endorsed by the government. Previously, it was hard to hold open talks about the tragedy, so the symposium symbolizes historic progress.

There is no official figure for the number of people killed in the anti-communist purge. Some historians put the death toll at about 500,000, with at least 300,000 ethnic Chinese killed. Millions were imprisoned and suspected of having links to the Indonesian Communist Party.

Discrimination and violence against ethnic Chinese had happened in some Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia in recent history. The Chinese government supported ethnic Chinese to take the nationality of their host country to encourage overseas Chinese to integrate into local society and improve relations with Southeast Asian countries.

Many of those ethnic Chinese immigrants, often engaged in trade and commerce, accumulated wealth and ascended economically as a result of their diligence, hard work and connections. They contributed to local economic development, but the economically successful migrant minorities were discriminated against by the local indigenous majority.

During the Cold War era, their status worsened. Southeast Asian countries were then used by the US to thwart the influence of the communist Soviet Union and China. Anti-Chinese sentiments in Southeast Asian countries were easily fanned, making ethnic Chinese scapegoats. Human rights groups recently asked US President Barack Obama to declassify files from the CIA and other agencies that could show how the 1965-66 Indonesian massacre was masterminded and the degree to which the US collaborated with the Indonesian government at the time.

Given the natural bond of ethnic Chinese of these countries with China, it's impossible for China to be unconcerned by violence.

Recent years have seen a growing relationship between China and Indonesia. While China is rapidly rising, Indonesia has endeavored to seek national reconciliation. Amid increasing voices calling to reveal the truth, it's a laudable step that a public discussion was officially held to reflect upon the past.

How to help the ethnic Chinese community integrate into local society is a problem facing many Southeast Asian countries. Finding a solution can help those multi-ethnic countries have a stable and harmonious development and develop bilateral relations with China on a healthy track.

Posted in: Observer

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