“It was a horrific situation in 1965. To the extent that it was better for people to call me a demon, a dog or whatever—as long as they didn’t call me communist. If there was someone from the army or an executioner [who overheard], I’d have been disappeared.”

With reddened eyes, 80-year-old Kaharudin, a former member of the Railway Workers Union or Serikat Buruh Kereta Api (SBKA) speaks to New Naratif from his home in Tebing Tinggi, a city 90km away from Medan, the provincial capital of North Sumatra.

He explains what he remembers of the situation after the abduction of six generals on the night of 30 September 1965. The incident, better known as G30S/PKI or the 30th of September Movement, was caused by rumours circulating that top army officials wanted to mount a coup against then-President Sukarno. Responding to the rumour, members of a military clique abducted and killed the generals and threw their bodies into an old well.

Members only

Log in or

Join New Naratif as a member to continue reading


We are independent, ad-free and pro-democracy. Our operations are member-funded. Membership starts from just US$5/month! Alternatively, write to sponsorship@newnaratif.com to request a free sponsored membership. As a member, you are supporting fair payment of freelancers, and a movement for democracy and transnational community building in Southeast Asia.

Teguh Harahap

Teguh Harahap is a freelance writer and translator based in Medan, Indonesia. Previously he worked as the editor of Koran Kindo, a weekly newspaper for Indonesian migrant workers based in Hong Kong.