Why Not Genocide? Anti-Chinese Violence in Aceh, 1965–1966

Jess Melvin


This article provides an account of anti-Chinese violence in Aceh between 1 October 1965 and 17 August 1966. Drawing upon original oral history evidence and previously unknown documentary sources, this article builds upon current scholarly understandings that two phases of violence involving members of the ethnic Chinese community can be identified in Aceh during this period, to explain how a third explicitly ethnic-based phase of violence directed against members of the ethnic Chinese community in Aceh can also be identified. Based on this research and a reflection on the precedent set by the Cambodian genocide as to how the current legal definition of genocide can be applied, this article argues that the assessment that the Indonesian killings should not be understood as genocide is premature.

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