158. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State 1

1090. 1. Army and other actions against PKI have been covered in detail in our sitreps and regular reporting.2 Question now is extent to which party’s effectiveness and potential have actually been impaired.

2. While situation still fluid, evidence to date indicates party has received major, though not necessarily mortal, blow to its image, considerable damage to its communications and command structures, and some damage to its organizational strength through arrest, harassment and, in some cases, execution of PKI cadres.

3. Extent of this damage cannot be definitely fixed but is certainly significant. In area of communications and command, we have direct evidence [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that PKI itself already regarded its communications to be virtually shattered a week or so ago, even before army repression had reached its peak. Some thousand of PKI cadres have reportedly been arrested in Djakarta area alone and several hundred of them have been executed. We know that Njono, head of Djakarta PKI and Politburo member, was arrested and may have been executed and there are unconfirmed reports of other arrests of top leaders including Anwar Snauee. Army sweeps of Kampung areas have also disrupted channels of communication, and loss of buildings, effects of curfew in Djakarta shut-down of telephone and telegraph system, etc., are forcing PKI to employ inefficient and cumbersome devices no matter how well prepared their underground network may have been.

4. Thus far, however, basic PKI organizational potential would appear to be largely intact and capable of recovering quickly in a purely organizational sense if its status were recognized by the government and army attacks were stopped. However, there would still be severe damage to its image that, taken by itself, would tend to impair recruitment and decrease possibilities for successful prosecution of United Front tactics. Also, even now party will face uphill fight in regaining degree of popular acceptance and ostensible prestige it enjoyed before Sept 30. At same time, if return of PKI did take place and could be [Page 330] shown as sign of anti-PKI weakness and indication that opposition to PKI was useless, loss popular image could be at least partially offset by psychology of intimation and by terror.

5. If army repression of PKI continues and army refuses to give up its position of power to Sukarno, PKI strength can be cut back. In long run, however, army repression of PKI will not be successful unless it is willing to attack communism as such, including associations with China and other bloc countries and Communist ideology, including many of key pillars of Sukarno doctrine. Army has nevertheless been working hard at destroying PKI and I, for one, have increasing respect for its determination and organization in carrying out this crucial assignment.

6. PKI capability for insurgency reported septel.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 12 INDON. Confidential. Repeated to Canberra, CINCPAC for POLAD, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo, and Wellington.
  2. In telegram 923 from Djakarta, October 8, the Embassy reported that the Army had arrested several thousand PKI activists and it has recovered many, but far from all, of the weapons distributed to Communist troops. (Ibid., POL 23–9 INDON)
  3. In telegram 1098 from Djakarta, October 20, the Embassy stated it had no real evidence that the PKI was planning insurgency. On balance, the Embassy concluded that the Army could cope with insurgency on a national basis, but it would have serious and perhaps prolonged trouble rooting the PKI out of some areas of Java and North Sumatra. The Embassy added that should Sukarno side with the PKI, the difficulties would be greatly increased. (Ibid.)