Leadership of general suharto the military moved

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leadership of General Suharto, the military moved against Sukarno, and under  emergency powers began a massive purge of communists and their sympathizers.  According to estimates, between 500,000 and one million people were slaughtered  during the purge, with 750,000 others imprisoned or forced into exile. It was two years  after the purge began, in 1967, the same year that Suharto assumed the presidency,  that my mother and I arrived in Jakarta, a consequence of her remarriage to an  Indonesian student whom she'd met at the University of Hawaii. I was six at the time,  my mother twenty-four. In later years my mother would insist that had she known what  had transpired in the preceding months, we never would have made the trip. But she  didn't know - the full story of the coup and the purge was slow to appear in  American newspapers. Indonesians didn't talk about it either. My stepfather, who had  seen his student visa revoked while still in Hawaii and had been conscripted into the  Indonesian army a few months before our arrival, refused to talk politics with my mother,  advising her that some things were best forgotten.  And in fact, forgetting the past was easy to do in Indonesia. Jakarta was still a sleepy  backwater in those days, with few buildings over four or five stories high, cycle  rickshaws outnumbering cars, the city center and wealthier sections of town - with their  colonial elegance and lush, well-tended lawns-quickly giving way to clots of small  villages with unpaved roads and open sewers, dusty markets, and shanties of mud and 
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brick and plywood and corrugated iron that tumbled down gentle banks to murky rivers  where families bathed and washed laundry like pilgrims in the Ganges. Our family was  not well off in those early years; the Indonesian army didn't pay its lieutenants much.  We lived in a modest house on the outskirts of town, without air-conditioning,  refrigeration, or flush toilets. We had no car - my stepfather rode a motorcycle, while my  mother took the local jitney service every morning to the U.S. embassy, where she  worked as an English teacher. Without the money to go to the international school that  most expatriate children attended, I went to local Indonesian schools and ran the streets  with the children of farmers, servants, tailors, and clerks.  As a boy of seven or eight, none of this concerned me much. I remember those years  as a joyous time, full of adventure and mystery - days of chasing down chickens and  running from water buffalo, nights of shadow puppets and ghost stories and street  vendors bringing delectable sweets to our door. As it was, I knew that relative to our 
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  • Fall '12
  • RyanFranks
  • Politics of Indonesia

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