Kadir Soelardjo, a 29-year-old medical student from Medan, North Sumatra, had been a guest at an event commemorating 16th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Tiananmen, Beijing, when he received the news: there’d been an attempted coup back home.
In the early hours of 1 October 1965, six army generals in Jakarta, including Army Commander Lieutenant-General Ahmad Yani, had been abducted and assassinated by dissident members of the Indonesian Army who referred to themselves as the 30 September Movement. It was a fairly short-lived movement; Army Strategic Reserve Commander Major-General Suharto crushed the attempted coup that evening. The plot was blamed on the pro-Beijing PKI, triggering a large-scale anti-communist purge. Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president, was politically weakened and forced to cede power to Suharto, who was formally appointed president in 1968.
A member of the Communist Party–affiliated CGMI (Concentration of the Indonesian Students Movement), Kadir became one of hundreds of Indonesians in Eastern Europe and China—mostly students, scholars and civil servants—who were exiled for their refusal to support Suharto’s New Order.
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