Interview With Kasai

Kasadi discusses his experience as a new member of Pemuda Rakyat, and how he went on the run twice after the collapse of the PKI during the Indonesian Massacres of 1965.

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Kasadi (a pseudonym) was in his early twenties when he joined Pemuda Rakyat—an affiliated organization with the PKI— as a new member in 1965. Yet the declining political fortunes of the PKI after the September 30 Incident that year meant that he had to be on the run from people that were out to eradicate PKI members and sympathizers across the country. He recalled that he made the decision to flee because he would have been captured by anti-PKI forces had he remained where he was.


He fled to Malang and then Surabaya. He was helped by various farmers and goat-herders along the way. Along the way, he also encountered many dead bodies along the streets—all victims of the country-wide massacre by anti-PKI forces. Meanwhile, a rumor that he had died had started to spread, and he recalled how his compatriots were looking for his corpse. He arrived in Surabaya by train, and went to look for an acquaintance named Mr. Rotamu, who was a soldier. Rotamu linked him with his fellow soldier and friend Sonalu, who fed and housed him in an army compound. He cleaned the sewers while he was there.


He decided to head back to his hometown after three months in Surabaya. The situation was serious in his village as his village was constantly raided by forces tasked to weed out remnants of PKI members and sympathizers like himself. Many of his friends from the village had either been captured by the hunters or fled from the village. His brother was killed by the hunters. He was almost captured by the hunters, if not for the fact that one of his relatives had protected him by denying his existence to the hunters who had spotted him when he returned to the village.


Three years later, in 1968, he was arrested by the village authorities while selling rice in the village market with his mother. He was brought to the village office and held there. The village authorities were so fearful that he would try to flee that they did not even allow him to go to the toilet. He was first taken to a facility in Koramil for a week, where he was interrogated once. He was then taken to another facility in Blitar, where he was held for the next nine months without due process. He recalled that the number of prisoners while he was there dropped from around 4,500 when he first came, to 90 when he left the facility. Life was arduous in prison, with not enough food going around and senior prisoners were constantly picking on junior ones. Yet as the number of prisoners dwindled, there was gradually more food and living space. Kasadi even recalled putting on some weight while in prison.


Kasadi recalled the harmonious relations between various political organizations active around his village. Despite various rivalries between the PKI, the NU, and Sukarno’s NASAKOM, their members actually got along well prior to 1965. Yet, the September 30 Incident was what unleashed violence all across the country. According to Kasadi, Suharto had declared that one general had to be replaced with the lives of thousands of communists. With Suharto’s declaration, Kasadi felt that after September 30, it was as though something or somebody was instigating individuals and organizations to wage violence against each other.


Question: Mr. Kamitan? Which is Mr. Kamitan?

Answer: Nurse. 

Q: Who is that?

A: His older brother Somaki (nurse).

Q: Oh, next to the elementary school?

A: West of the street. Right.

Q: Why did you suddenly sit there? Directly there?

A: I ran straight to the south of the river (Tirto River).

Q: Running away?

B: Yes, looking for safety.

Q: What year was that, sir?

A: 1965

Q: Was it 1965?

A: Exactly 1965.

Q: That means the time of the outbreak (of the G30S)?

A: Yes.

Q: September 30th, yes?

A: After that.

Q: Oh, it's been a while, hasn’t it?

A: Yes, it was. I thought the area south of the river was safe, but when I got up on the terrace of a resident's house, I was immediately shot at.

Q: You?

A: Yes. I immediately ran quickly. I reached the forest.

Q: What village was it?

A: Up from Kedungwangi, then to Bumicantik. Then I ran away again. It was terrible, I was shot at. Actually, they were looking for Tiyo. Tiyo was Suwargo's brother. They were looking for him. That was when I was sitting at Mr. Bunu's place selling limestone. So, they were really looking for targets.

Q: Here?

A: No, but in BumicantikKedungcantik.

Q: Oh, in BumicantikKedungcantik? Oh, you have a place there? Or a relative there?

A: No, no.

Q: Just to escape?

A: Just to survive. If I was at home, I would have been caught.

Q: I see.

A: Yes, just that (survival)... south of the river.

Q: How old were you at that time?

A: 22, 22, 23.

Q: Oh, still healthy.

A: Oh, still a bachelor.

Q: Sure.

A: Then I stayed in a small house. I was fed tiwul rice (dried cassava). It was delicious and I was hungry, since it was  twilight.

Q: Oh, it's already twilight?

A: Twilight.

Q: Leaving at noon?

A: Yes at 4 o'clock.

Q: 4 pm?

A: 4 pm. I was shot at the Tirto River. I ran to that place. I was with three people. The people from there. I didn't know how they live now. Looking for their own lives.

Q: Yes.

A: The people there were goat brokers. I was given a hat (made from woven bamboo) and told to lead the goats to Lodo. I walked from Bumicantik to Bodo. What I was worried about was in Jenggong. The Jenggong area was very cruel. Fortunately, there were no guards at all. It's safe.

Q: Was the journey from Bumicantik to Jenggong safe?

A: It was safe. I arrived at around 2am. At half-past 3am, I walked to Bodo while leading a goat (laugh) ... I was helped by a farmer ...

Q: A farmer, yes. Or a realtor?

A: A farmer or a goat broker doesn't have time to ask questions like that. The most important thing was to live.

Q: Didn't have time?

A: Right.

Q: It's about being afraid and wanting to survive, wasn't it?

A: Yes, I wanted to be safe. After shaking hands with the man (the goat giver) I left for Blitar. During my escape I only had a small allowance.

Q: Oh, did you bring it (money)?

A: Yes. I still have a little, so I took an oplet (a type of public transportation) to Kadi.

Q: From Bodo?

A: Yes, from Boyo. When I got north of Bodo, as far as Blitar, I took a bus to Malang. On the bus to Malang, precisely in Luta, I saw a dead body covered with leaves on the side of the road.

Q: Slaughter?

A: Yes, victims.

Q: In Siwi?

A: Luta.

Q: Luta. Did you see it?

A: Saw.

Q: Oh I see, saw, yes.

A: From inside the bus I saw a dead body being covered. Then at the Gotar line, the secretarysecretarist of Gotar village was caught. At the same time as Pupuk Village. Saricantik or Sari Indah, there were three people (the bodies of the victims).

Q: West of that road? The slope is in Pupuk Village?

A: Yes.

Q: How close is Semok?

A: Yes, exactly. Three people. I went straight to Malang. In Malang, I couldn't sleep all night, just going here and there.

Q: The terminal?

A: Between Kota Lama Station and Kota Baru Train Station. It's far, about 9 kilometers. It was still safe there at that time (Malang). There was no operation yet.

Q: Operations?

A: Yes. Had I not escaped, I would have died.

Q: You?

A: Yes, fortunately until Surabaya I was rumored to have died (shot). The rumor was spread by Mr Bari. Mr. Sul also informed me.

Q: Who gave the news?

A: Yes. The rumour that was spread to people was that I was killed. Everyone here was also looking for (my corpse). In fact, there was nothing (laugh)...

Q: The people here were all hunted down, weren't they?

A: No, they were looking for whether Kasadi's body (me) was really here. Up until the bridge area. 

Q: Up to Soro to the south?

A: Yes, south of there. In Grandpa Iman's pigsty (laugh) ...

Q: Oh...

A: Horrified...horrified...

Q: How did you get to Malang in the end?

A: I went to Surabaya. I went directly to Surabaya. I took the train to Surabaya and got off at Gubeng Kertajaya Station.

Q: Yes.

A: I was looking for Mr. Rotamu. He was a soldier.

Q: Family or acquaintance?

A: Yes, an acquaintance. Then I was accommodated there. In the morning I was asked to go to the army complex. On foot, with a friend of Mr. Rotamu's. His name was Lieutenant Sonalu.

Q: Mr. Sonalu?

A: Now he's dead. The husband and wife have passed away. One month here. Then half a month later his nephew came, a student like him. Something like that. So, I felt bad. I must know myself.

Q: Oh, I see.

A: That time coincided with Governor Surahman's operation. My friends hid in the army compound.

Q: Oh, the army.

A: I was the only one at Pak Sonalu's. I was fed there and cleaned the sewers. I helped anyway.

Q: Oh... How long were you in Surabaya?

A: Three months.

Q: Three months.

A: Then I went home.

Q : Here?

A: What was the situation like back here? It was still bad (laugh). That was in 1966.

Q: Was it still 1965 or 1966?

A: 1965.

Q: Still 1965?

A: 1965. It's still serious.

Q: That means between September, October, November, December?

A: Yes. I was free there, it was safe. What month was it, four months in Surabaya.

Q: How did you return home when the situation was still serious?

A: By carriage. Down there I met Mr. Samisol. Mr. Samisol was our next door neighbor. Unexpectedly, at 9 pm I was targeted (by the hunters). I was already sleeping with my father. My mother couldn't bear it. I was told to climb a ladder between the kitchen and the house. Unfortunately, my buntung was seen. The entrance to my yard was already brightly lit (by the flashlights of the hunters). Then Mr. Kaswargan, the son of Mr. Saeta, spotted me. I was protected by him. If he hadn't protected me, I would have been caught. Even though my buntung was seen.

Q: What is a buntung?

A: This butt, you know, the butt. Hiding between the gutters of the house and the kitchen, you know, there usually is.

Q: Yes. Still visible?

A: Visible. Then one of the hunters in the group told Mr. Kaswargan 'None’.

Q: In fact, (one of them) spotted you?

A: Yes, I was seen.

Q: Still given a chance to live.

A: Then they went around to the neighborhood, to Mr. Angel. But Mr. Angel had already gone to Malang by then. Here they were constantly raided, constantly operated on. I had no idea that something like this would happen.

Q: Mr. Angel was already Pemuda (Rakyat), yes?

A: He was already a Pemuda (Rakyat). (that's why, at the beginning) at that time I was told by Mr. Saliman, 'You won't get hit, arrogant, hehe...'

Q: Oh...

A: I was still sitting beside my bicycle, I didn't realize (there was an operation at the beginning).

Q: Oh, you didn't know?

A: I didn't know, but many of my friends from the market were caught at that time.

Q: Yes.

A: But right, they were still healthy, at that time I also was still healthy. But if you didn't run, you got caught.

Q: I see. Then you survived in the Kota Lama, right?

A: It was safe.

Q: Did you go again, sir?

A: No, I didn't. I kept going home, it was safe at home.

Q: At that time, sir?

A: Yes. Then in 1968 I was arrested again. They said it was connected to the South Blitar incident. Even though I didn't know anything about it. I was already selling rice with my mother.

Q: In the market?

A: Yes.

Q: in Soro market?

A: Yes. With my mother I was arrested by village apparatus and taken to the village head. My friend Nogo, then Mr. Kiwa, Suwa were already there. Tuman too.

Q: Which Suwa?

A: Suwa, all of them have died.

Q: Oh, they've all passed away.

A: Mr. Suwa, his house is the one north of the market.

Q: Yes. How did you get arrested?

A: I was brought to the village office. The head of the village didn’t allow me to urinate. That's outrageous.

Q: The village head was already a soldier?

A: No, at that time it was Mr. Setdah. 

Q: Still Mr. Setdah?

A: Yes. At that time, I was not allowed to urinate, he was afraid that I would run away or something. At noon, we were taken to Koramil Siwi. 5 people were taken by Mr. Nomur's car. 

Q: The Koramil on the east side of the road?

A: Yes.

Q: South of the road.

A: That's very cruel. Luckily, I wasn't hurt.

Q: Yes.

A: I'm telling the truth.

Q: Yes.

A: Then there was a noise from the next room. Maybe the questions were complicated... It was like there was no hope for life at that time. I was there for a week, but nothing happened. I was only interrogated once.

Q: What was asked at that time, sir?

A: The question: "'You were assigned what by Sopuk?' I answered, 'You see, Sopuk was the sandal service, sir? At that time, I was sewing sandals. That's why I knew Sopuk. I was never assigned by Sopuk'." At that time, Sopuk had already been arrested. At that time, I was told by Mr Kamitan at the birth of a neighbor's baby, 'Your friend has been arrested.' Then Sopuk revealedbit the names of his friends. 

Q: Sopuk revealed bit off the names of his friends?

A: He did. He was dead.

Q: It's broken, isn't it? Is that what Mr. Sami's father sewed?

A: Well, Mani.

Q: Mani.

A: Her uncle.

Q: Uncle?

A: Uncle.

Q: So, his descendants are all tailors?

A: Right.

Q: I see.

A: Mr. Mani.

Q: He revealed the names of his friendsBitten is the term to refer to his friends. In 1968, sir, was it?

A: 1968.

Q: 1968.

A: At that time, I was about to enter the prison east of the square.

Q: Blitar?

A: Yes.

Q: After a week at Koramil, you were transferred to Blitar?

A: Yes, to Blitar. There was no question at all. I got there with five of me. I was still wearing my new clothes. Clothes for Isi's event. Isi is Mr. Temoki's daughter.

Q: Oh yes...

A: Married to Sardi.

Q: Oh, coincidentally….

A: Yes.

Q: Here, huh?

A: Yes, in...

Q: Mr. Temoki?

A: North of that road.

Q: Yes. Were you arrested there?

A: No, in the market.

Q: When you were selling (rice)?

A: When selling rice.

Q: Oh okay...

A: That's the story. I was there for nine months. I didn't ask any questions at all.

Q: In Blitar?

A: Yes. I was given grontol (a food made from corn mixed with grated coconut).There were 40 (corn kernals) at most, and only given three times a day. Imagine, I counted 40 corn kernels?

Q: Yes, yes.

A: The ones who served it were the prisoners. They were cruel.

Q: Oh criminal prisoner...

A: A chili was taken from my friend, and my friend's hand was hit with a dipper by a prisoner. The inmate was cruel. 

Q: Oh.

A: It meant that we were not allowed to take it. Then, queue..

Q: That's it?

A: I was put in the first room, sir. Gathered with damaged people. There were 60 people in one room. I couldn't sleep.

Q: Yes. In the same boat as you?

A: Yes. The Adang people are two or three months apart from me.

Q: Yes. 

A: Three times a day ration, grontol.

Q: Grontol. It's easy to get hungry...

A: Right. My food delivery from home couldn't get in. Maybe it was eaten by the guard above, (laugh)...

Q: Did your father know that you were detained there?

A: Yes, he did. My parents knew.

Q: Grandma Songo? 

A: Grandma Songo. I was also visited by my mother at the Koramil. She also sent food then.

Q: Ohh.

A: I was in the Siwi Koramil for one week, then transferred to Blitar. There were no questions at all. It was only that 20 people were called that night. And Kasadi's name was 4 people. Imagine. 

Q: Every night there was a call?

A: Yes, they were called.

Q: Who were they?

A: I didn't know.

Q: They didn't come back, right?

A: Right, not returning. Since I came in from 4500 people, there are only 90 people left.

Q: 4500 out of 90? 

A: Yes. 90.

Q: That means there were more than 4000 missing.

A: I didn't know at that time where they were called and taken to.

Q: How do you know 4500 people are left with 90?

A: It's full, sir. Every room facing west and east was full. After only being there for a week, I was moved to the south room, which was a bit more spacious. I could hang out with my friends, Grandpa Guna.

Q: From Soro?

A: Yes, Soro. We could be together in the same room. Before, I was alone.

Q : With Mr. Nogo?

A: Yes.

Q: Who else was Mr. Nogo with earlier?

A: Mr. Nogo is your family (member)?

Q: Yes. Who else was he with?

A: Suwa, Tuman, and Mr. Kiwa, Prato. All of them have passed away. Mr. Nogo didn't know anything, just to replace his brother, Brother Marki.

Q: Brother Marki?

A: He ran away. He was arrested by the Koramil and given questions. What they were looking for was actually Marki. But the Koramil did not know that it was not Marki (but Nogo). Marki was the one who was wanted, given the questions.

Q: When was arrested, Nogo?

A: That was the next day.

Q: Oh, the next day

A: The next day. At that time Marki left.

Q: Oh, at that time he left?

A: Yes, I didn't know where.

Q: So, it was still going?

A: Yes, he went.

Q: He was safe...

A: (Then Marki became) a policeman.

Q: Oh police?

A: Right, police in Jakarta.

Q: After 1965?

A: Yes.

Q: Oh instead...

A: During 65, or after 1965...

Q: So Marki was already a policeman at the time of Gestok? 

A: Yes, a policeman. I didn't know whose diploma it was (laugh)...

Q: Until the time of Soeharto (New Order era), was he still a policeman in Jakarta?

A: (Until) Megawati period (2002-2004).

Q: Oh, the Megawati era.

A: Yes, Megawati period.

Q: In Jakarta?

A: Yes.

Q: That Mr Marki?

A: Right.

Q: Oh. It was a good life.

A: His life was good. Then he was married toa woman from Solo, if I'm not mistaken.

Q: Those 5 people eventually all survived?

A: Right. Then they went home.

Q: The 5 people who were called earlier?

A: Yes...

Q: Safe, yes.

A: Safe. There was Kasadi Adang, Kasadi Gandu, anyway there were four Kasadi people I remember. When Kasadi's name was called, we were immediately shocked and very afraid. Fortunately, we were survived.

Q: When the name was called...

A: (I) kept praying for these five people. They survived.

Q: Yes.

A: Nine months.

Q: Nine months. What was the direct process?

A: What?

Q: How was the process of returning from prison?

A: When I came out of the prison, I was taken to the CPM. Processed. I wasn't asked anything. I was immediately given the release letter.

Q: Oh.

A: I was shaven at that time. I got fat there (laugh). That's the stupid thing about it.

Q: You should have been thin back then, but how come you were fat back? ... Eating only grontol

A: The grontol belonging to the 5 people was collected and then pounded.

Q: I see.

A: Yes. How stupid was that when it was the end (of prison).

Q: Oh, I see.

A: Knowing that way is too late.

Q: Oh, what was the difference between softened and  whole (grontol)?

A: Different.

Q: Oh it digests in the gut differently?

A: Right.

Q: Oh, I see.

A: So while I was there I never took a shower. It was very dirty, the well hoist was difficult. There was a fight. There were thousands of people and only one well.

Q: Thousands?

A: The prisoners were thin. They just took banana peels from the river.

Q: Eaten?

A: Eaten. That's bad. I couldn't bear it. I was still healthy at that time.

Q: You were still 22, right?

A: 23 maybe, around that age.

Q: And then processed back home at CPM like that?

A: Yes

Q: That means in 1969 maybe?

A: The next one.

Q: 1970?

A: No.

Q: Oh 1968.

A: The end of 1968.

Q: Oh, you went home?

A: Right, back home.

Q: Did that mean the arrest was in early 1968? 

A: Yes, early 68. That was caused by Sopuk.That's what caused was Sopuk?

Q: Actually, who was Sopuk?

A: Sopuk was Mani's uncle.

Q: Was he a member of any organisations in Soro?

A: I didn't know. I knew Sopuk when I was sewing sandals at his place. 

Q: Sopuk?

A: I didn't really know Sopuk's relationship with the party.

Q: Oh, I see.

A: I'm still Pemuda (Rakyat).

Q: I see. Mr Sopuk was the caretaker, wasn't he?

A: Already a caretaker. 

Q: Oh right. Be with friend of Mr Kabir?

A: It's their circle.

Q: Top party officials ...

A: But if I was at home at that time, it would have disappeared (died).

Q: Gone?

A: Yes, it disappeared. I was constantly being searched for. I was contacted constantly.

Q: Why exactly are you being chased?

A: Yes, that's it. Just because of that Pemuda (Rakyat).

Q: That's what it means, related to Pemuda only. Mr. Towi was interested in folk art, right?

A: Who?

Q: Mr Towi from Gajo. The one who sells tempe.

A: That's right.

Q: Dancer and singer.

A: Yes...

Q: You are a Pemuda (Rakyat)?

A: Yes.

Q: I see. So, you were chased all the time, sir?

A: Yes. So, now I just followed my friends. When it's time to pray, just pray.

Q: Right

A: My relationship with Mr. Pul is good.

Q: Right.

A: We don't have any relatives or friends (when just out of prison). It really happened at that time. Girls who were not dating were immediately chased by men. 

Q: Forced?

A: Yes.

Q: The woman?

A: Chased.

Q: In the market or on the street?

A: No, she wasn't. I liked the first one, but the girl didn't want to.

Q: Didn't want to?

A: Yes. At the Gestok it was an opportunity.

Q: I see, yes.

A: Yes. Until the teenager left.

Q: The boy?

A: The girl.

Q: Oh, the female side.

A: Threatened.

Q: Yes.

A: My history with Mr Milan was the same.

Q: Mr Milan?

A: Yes.

Q: Mr. Milan lived there more often, yes?

A: Yes, there.

Q: Jambeng, yes?

A: Yes. But he had a family first.

Q: Oh, yes.

A: Yes, he had a family. Mr Fi used to have a family too.

Q: Mr Fi had.

A: I haven't. So, my son doesn't know either. 

Q: That incident?

A: Yes.

Q: They didn't know about it until now?

A: Yes. No one knows.

Q: I'm the only one who knows (laugh)...

A: That's right. That's why if I want to be interviewed, I don't want to, I say 'no need'. Even my children don't know at all. 

Q: Not caught. 

A: Yes. Once I was going to be interviewed by a Jember person if I'm not mistaken, I said 'No need', then he said 'I've been from Mr Milan' then I answered again 'Yes, Mr Milan already knows everything. The history was the same'. But when I was shot, if I had been hit, I would have died.

Q: South of the river (Tirto), yes.

A: I thought I was looking far for safety. It turned out that the south of the river (Tirto) was even worse.

Q: It's actually serious. 

A: The south of the river was full of soldiers.

Q: Gathered there?

A: Operations there.

Q: Yes. When you returned home, was your ID card written or not?

A: From where?

Q: From prison.

A: The CPM?

Q: Yes. There's usually a mark.

A: I was given a letter, sir.

Q: Oh, release letter.

A: But I burned it. After the release (release letter) I burned it. I was shaved, shaved bald like that.

Q: You burned (the letter), yes?

A: Yes.

Q: Then your ID card was not marked ET (Ex-political prisoners), right?

A: Right

Q: Oh, safe then.

A: Safe until now. 

Q: That means no one knows?

A: No one knows, (laugh).

Q: Safe. 

A: Yes. The only ones who know are Mr Kiwa and his friends.

Q: Just your friends.

A: Yes.

Q: Mr Towi?

A: Yes. After the incident it was safe. 

Q: After that Blitar was safe?

A: It was safe.

Q: After the incident it became safe.

A: Yes. Until then, in 1970, I got married.

Q: Right. Sorry, sir, for revealing the past.

A: Yes. It was horrible. Back then, if I didn't run away, I would have died.

Q: Yes. What was the story like back then, sir? What was the atmosphere like before 1965?

A: I don't know. I used to listen to the news on Mrs Tah's radio. Mrs Tah had a big radio. Bu Tah's, you know, at Pak Priyadi's (location) on the east side of the road, north of the Puskesmas (Central of Health Society).

Q: Oh, north of the Puskesmas.

A: Yes.

Q: Yes...

A: Many people go there (to listen to the radio).

Q: Right.

A: Listening to the news about Jakarta...the Council of Generals, the Revolutionary Council. I didn't understand at all. The people didn't know anything about the events (the September 30 Incident).  

Q: Oh...

A: Which ones to support we didn't know at all.

Q: Yes. What was the atmosphere like in the years 1963-1964 between the organisations around here, Grandpa?

A: It was safe and sound.

Q: Was it safe?

A: Yes, it was safe. In 1964 I was still playing football.

Q: Football?

A: Yes, on that field.

Q: South of that?

A: South of that road.

Q: South of (the rice fields) Mr Sisan?

A: Yes. South of Mr Sisan's chicken coop. In 1963, I went to Kelapa to join my brother as a teacher there.

Q: Oh. Kelapa is south of the river (Tirto)?

A: Yes. In 1963, I joined my brother who was a teacher at Kelapa.

Q: Kelapa south of the river, Grandpa?

A: I was already in junior high school at that time. I graduated from junior high school in 1957.

Q: So, you had time to teach?

A: No, I only followed my brother who was a teacher at Kelapa.

Q: I'm sorry, was your brother named Mr. Sama?

A: Yes, but now he has passed away.

Q: Were you chased when Mr. Sama died or before?

A: At that time I was looking for my own salvation. Pak Sama ran to Malang with his wife as a puppeteer.  After that, his wife ran to Jakarta and eventually survived. Pak Sama also returned to Soro. He was safe. He was accompanied by my father's bed for a week. Pak Pujaan, my brother, was still a relative of Pak Muhi in Jajak.  We thought he would protect us. But instead of protecting him, Pak Muhi reported Pak Sama's whereabouts to Pak Taran.

Q: Ooo (the leader) of NU?

A: Yes, (his house) east of the road. Then Pak Taran reported it to the police. That night he was picked up along with 16 other people from many places. From Soro was Pak Sama only. 

Q: Where were the other 16 people taken, Grandpa?

A: To Kamis' grave. On that road (the entrance to the grave).

Q: At Kamis' grave. Killed there. 16 people were buried there, Grandpa? Overnight 16 people (buried)?

A: Yes. 

Q: Did you escape at that time or before?

A: I was safe.

Q: After 1968?

A: Yes, oh (no) I was still in Surabaya (1965). Pak Sama went home first. I was told by Dursi. He also knew Pak Sama. My own life was threatened. I didn't dare to go to the Navy complex. Also, I didn't have the money. Meanwhile, the Soro people were operating (hunting) from Malang to Surabaya. I regretted not inviting Pak Sama to Surabaya. He should have survived until now.

Q: Do you mean to take Mr. Sama?

A: Yes, both in Surabaya with me. At that time he even went home first.

Q: Didn't continue to Surabaya?

A: Right. I couldn't and I was also threatened if I took the public transport. What would I do if I met people (the hunters)? I was so stupid that I didn't ask Dursi for help earlier. I could have asked Pak Sama to take me to Surabaya, to gather all of us in Surabaya. But what else, it's fate.

Q: That means it was Banser Kasim who killed him, Grandpa?

A: Yes, it was Kamis' Banser who killed the 16 people, including my three brothers from Sepan. 

Q: Still family, Grandpa?

A: Yes.

Q: The one who was killed?

A: Pak Salyo, Sukudu, Angelmen, Sama.

Q: Angelmen was a woman?

A: Male and female, Sukudu and Angelmen were husband and wife. Mr Salyo’s wife is my cousin.  

Q: Did you mean it was at Sepan’s grave?

A: At Kamis’ grave, the 16 people were buried together.

Q: (including) Salyo?

A: Yes.

Q: So the 16 names that Mr. Taran submitted were further handled by the police?

A: For Mr Taran, only Mr Sama's name. The others were probably already there. That night was the last incident. The next day until now it is safe.

Q: That was the last kidnapping? So, you were still in Surabaya at that time, yes?

A: Yes, I was still in Surabaya.

Q: That means it was 1965?

A: Yes. Late 1965.

Q: Originally (Sama) was a teacher, but why was he arrested? Weren't they good people?

A: I didn't know that either. His wife was a puppeteer, her name was Angelmen Loro, from Lodo.

Q: Angelmen Loro was a puppeteer, wasn't she?

A: Yes, Pak Sama's wife.

Q: Were Mr Sukudu Angelmen's partner?

A: Yes, the man and woman sell. Farmer too. Salyo was the kamituwo (village official). After the kidnapping, it has been safe until now. I also got the right to vote (politically).

Q: Was your KTP clean, Grandpa?

A: Yes, it's clean.

Q: The story was terrible, so you're 22, you were born in 1941.

A: Yes 1941, now I'm 80.

Q: More if you were born in 1941, in 1965 you were already 24 years old. So, what was your family's condition like when Mr Sama was kidnapped?

A: My mother was like a crazy person. She stayed at the front door expecting her son Sama to come home. And secondly, she was waiting for her son Mr. Pujaan to arrive. Mr. Pujaan used to be a soldier, and was caught while hiding in Karangkuring, but was able to escape.

Q: Did Mr. Pujaan survive that time?

A: He survived, and he died in a normal way.

Q: Only the soldier position was released?

A: Yes, it was released, but it could have been taken care of. Mr Takir also got a pension, but Mr Pujaan didn't take care of it.

Q: Army, where did he work?

A: In the Malang area. Once he was trapped by the Dutch army, then hid himself in a ditch and was not discovered.

Q: During the Dutch era, 1947 or 1949. Mr Pujaan was already 30 or so in 1965?

A: Yes, Mr Pujaan was born in 1931, Mr Nutu in 1928.

Q: O, that's Pak Nutu's brother…

A: Yes, my first brother was Mr Risa, then Mr Pujaan, Mr Nutu, Mrs. Kuni, Sama and then me. I'm the youngest child.

Q: Six siblings?

A: Yes, I am the last child.

Q: So, your mother waited at the front door of the house like that? (Waiting) for the two (children).

A: Yes, (waiting for) Mr Sama. (My mother) got thin.

Q: Was Grandpa Songo (Kasadi’s mother) the man or the woman?

A: Female.

Q: What is her husband's name?

A: My original mother was Mbah Pasah from Sepan. My father is Songo from Soro. His son was Songodrono, but it was changed to Songosentono. At that time many names ended with 'sentono'. Yes, originally Pak Madan was Pak Genito's son. Pak Genito is my father's older brother. That means they are still relatives. 

Q: I'm sorry, did you know Mr Kaimi (executioner of Banser)?

A: Yes, I know, I sleep at his house every day. When I was still grinding grain, he kept waiting for me and invited me to watch ludruk.

Q: So before 1965 you weren't with the (party) people? 

A: Pak Kaimi was good, we also played volleyball together in Jeneng. I also slept in the same bed. I also ate rice mixed with cassava for breakfast. (Mr Kaimi) liked to fondle me.

Q: What was the condition like in 1965?

A: I didn't understand why the situation was like that. Mr Saton was cut down (with a machete) and hit a pillar of the house. If Mr Saton hadn't dodged, he would have died. Even though the two of them were siblings.

Q: What happened in that house, Grandpa? In 1965, Grandpa?

A: Yes, 1965 during Gestok.

Q: Did you know what happened directly?

A: No, I only know from people's stories.

Q: Slashed with a sword, right, Grandpa?

A: Right. Kaimi was 'number one' at that time.

Q: The cruelest, Grandpa?

A: Right. If it's football with me he was the cruelest.

Q: Like to hurt his friends like that.

A: Yes, fierce, easily angered.

Q: My mother was beaten.

A: His younger siblings had all been beaten.

Q: Sorry, when Mr Kaimi stabbed Mr Saton it was because Mr Saton joined the red group, Grandpa?

A: I didn't know about Mr Saton. He had been friends with everyone. He was fond of tayub dancing. So, he had many acquaintances.

Q: Mr Kabir's group, Mr Sopu, was familiar with Mr Saton?

A: It didn't look like it. I knew Mr Saton was a tayub dancer. 

Q: As a nephew, I wonder why he was like this. Was it because of Gestok, party problems or something else?

A: Mr Saton was not seen in the party, he was neutral and did not defend anyone.

Q: Not red, not green?

A: Right. That's about the gambling problem with Kaimi. Indeed, the late Kaimi was cruel.

Q: His death was difficult, he said, Grandpa?

A: It was difficult, until his children are now difficult. During the inauguration of the prayer house, I used to serve Kaimi. At that time Kaimi was already slumped on the floor like that.

Q: In the prayer house beside the house?

A: Yes, I took care of it. 'Is it Kasadi, right?' 'Who do you think I am? What did you become (in 1965)? What were you appointed to?" He replied, 'Let's not talk about that anymore.' 'Here, had some tea and bread.' He said, 'Yes, just put it there, I would get it myself'. I was also still good to him (Kaimi) and had no hate. Yes, why did Samisol have such a heart for me, when he met me on the road entering the courtyard of the house just after I got off the carriage and met him...

Q: From Surabaya at that time, Grandpa?

A: Yes, I travelled by carriage at sunset. Got off the carriage and walked east to meet Samisol. He was riding a bicycle at that time. Well, suddenly at 9 pm there was an operation by Bahas's group, whose house was east of Mr Kasul's street.

Q: Bahas was an Arab?

A: Yes, which Arab. He was the leader.

Q: With Sirka?

A: That group...

Q: So, it was Mr Samisol who reported? He should have been, because he was the only person I met on the road at twilight. I didn't meet anyone else. In the morning, I had already run away again.

Q: O, that hunt where your butt was spotted?

A: Yes, in the morning I returned to my hiding place again. I thought the situation was safe, but it turned out that it was still serious. I had been in Surabaya for more than two months.

Q: So, that night you were operated on immediately by Bahas and his friends. Were there many people, Grandpa?

A: There were many people. After Pak Kaswargan said 'None!', everyone immediately ran to the west of the house because of the sudden barking of Mr Kamono Markapi's dog, Suyez's father. They (the kidnappers) were looking for Mr Angel, Gayatri's husband. Mr Angel had already escaped. He was safe. 

Q: How was the operation at 9 pm, Grandpa? Did they immediately break down the door?

A: They didn't enter the house.

Q: From outside? Screaming like that?

A: Yes, well the sound of swords filled the yard. Then there were large sokle everywhere. I was about to climb into the gutter when I felt the strong beam of the sokle.

Q: What was a sokle, Grandpa?

A: A big torch, very bright. People outside carry the sokle

Q: Everyone brings it?

A: Right.

Q: So, the one who entered the house was Mr. Kaswargan?

A: No, he did not enter, but he spotted me (from outside).

Q: From outside?

A: Yes, I was already at the top going into the gutter... I was seen by Mr. Kaswargan.

Q: You can see it anyway, but he didn't say. How come you knew about Mr Kaswargan?

A: When it was safe, he finally spoke. When it was safe, I went there (Mr Kaswargan's house).  At that time he was sick. Unexpectedly a week later he died.

Q: So, that was the last (meeting), Grandpa.

A: Yes, that last time Mr Kaswargan did not recognise me.

Q: Had he forgotten you?

A: Yes, he forgot.

Q: Where is Mr Kaswargan's house?

A: Mr Kaswargan of Grandpa Kaeta, the house left by his parents on the west side of the road. But then he had his own house south of the market, on the south side of the road towards the east.

Q: That means it's still my family.

A: Yes, your family.

Q: That's the brother from Degan. 

A: Yes, your family, including Mr Saman Toko’s, but the woman's side.

Q: O yes, the woman's side.

B: Kaswargan was still my family.

Q: So, he didn't go into the house at that time, Grandpa?

B: No, until the terrace.

Q: On the terrace then shouted your name, told to come out like that?

A: Yes.

Q: So, your name was called?

A: Yes, I was already nervous, hiding.

Q: You have a cold sweat, Grandpa. Oh, my goodness.

A: Right. I didn't know where I went wrong. Anyway, at twilight all the people here were confused.

Q: Why?

A: Confused to save themselves, right when the neighbourhood was targeted (by the hunters) at night.

Q: During the Gestok?

A: Yes. 

Q: So, every night they went (to save themselves)?

A: Who?

Q: People from the neighbourhood.

A: Yes, they shouldn't be at home. But Mr. Nutu and Mr. Risa seem to be at home.

Q: Was it safe, Grandpa?

A: It was safe (inside the house), but on the road in front there was the sound of swords.

Q: On the road there?

A: Yes. But they were frightened in the house. Mr Risa's place was made for jaranan (folk art) or other events, because the house was big, but it was still safe.

Q: Before Gestok?

A: Yes, before Gestok.

Q: At the time of Gestok, was Mr Nutu already married? Was he the first child?

A: The third child.

Q: Eh, Mr Risa I mean.

A: Mr. Nutu was not married.

Q: Mr. Risa was?

A: Already.

Q: The house with the letter U shape?

A: Yes.

Q: O, the big house was an old building, and the north side of the house was used for karawitan (folk art). Who owns it, Mr Asro?

A: Yes, his name was Mr Asromino.

Q: O right. That house was for the karawitan, then the south house was for jaranan.

A: Right.

Q: Did the Wuha hamlet people practice there?

A: Yes, but it was safe, Mr Risa was also safe.

Q: These three people are all your family. Mr Towi said that he joined Lekra. What did you join?

A: I didn't join anything, just the Pemuda.

Q: Pemuda Rakyat?

A: Yes.

Q: In Siwi, there was a Bapera, right? From Mr Towi's story, there was a Bapera in Siwi, behind the Sadan building.

A: What is Bapera?

Q: People's Education Agency, was there one in here?

A: No. So, Towi participated there?

Q: Not Mr Towi, but his brother, Masaki.  He survived, right?

A: Yes, he survived. His death was normal. Towi and his friends were also chased by hunters.

Q: Including Mr Masaki?

A: At that time if people didn't save themself, they would have died.

Q: Before Gestok, I mean before Gestok there was red and green, between the PKI and NU, how was that?

A: Yes, they got along well, with the existence of Sukarno's NASAKOM.

Q: In the villages too?

A: Yes, it was harmonious. Then it broke up, like someone was pitting them against each other.

Q: Suddenly changed like that?

A: Yes, it changed, led by General Suharto, who said that one general must (be replaced by killing) many thousands of communists.

Q: Did they say that, Grandpa? 

A: Yes, it broke out in the villages. From the top (officials) to the village, in my opinion, suddenly became active and compact.

Q: So, you can talk to people from the green people, was that normal, Grandpa?

A: Just normal. I used to play volleyball everywhere, see the ludruk that Kaimi bought tickets for. If I'm in the prayer-house, I'm made to fight over it. In Mr Rolan's house-prayer.

Q: In Rolan?

A: Yes, Mr. Rolan. There I was used as a rival by Sihir Kamis's group. I was uncomfortable. I left. Then I was hugged by Kaimi himself. It was the time of girlfriends like that (fellow boys). So I was uncomfortable at the time. Mr Samiji of Sepan was also looking for me.

Q: At that time, I’m sure you were handsome, white and handsome.

A: Yes, that Disak, also Mr Lur who got married in Gadi, was also looking for me.

Q: Did you want to be mated (gemblak)?

A: Yes, but I didn't want to, so I ended up hanging out. Then I even slept at Kaimi's. For breakfast I would use ampok rice (corn) and cassava.

Q: Grandpa Sujah was healthy at that time, wasn't she?

A: Still healthy and good to me. Gabuk too, everyone was nice.

Q: What were the activities in the Pemuda Rakyat?

A: I was new, the old one was Mr Angel.

Q: I see. The term is already a leader, right?

A: Yes, he was already a board member.

Q: In Soro?

A: Yes.

Q: What year did you start?

A: 1965 as well.

Q: Still new, Grandpa...

A: I didn't know anything, I just gathered here and there. Mr Angel was a teacher, smart.

Q: So, was that Mr Sama's friend?

A: Different, Mr Sama was teaching there.

Q: The location was different?

A: Lodo area.

Q: That means that if Mr Fiyoso knew Mr Angel, the Soro area too.

A: I didn't know. Mr Fiyoso was just a teacher. Mr Fi was almost caught, that's the story. He was the son-in-law of the head of the village. So, he was protected. I knew him during football. Mr Fiyoso was on the right wing, then I was on the left wing. Yes, before Gestok I also knew Mr Pohadak, a football friend. Kaimi was a friend who played football.

Q: That means Mr Kaimi knew Mr Fiyoso.

A: I should have known.

Q: What did you usually do in Pemudausually in Pemuda Rakyat?

A: Yes, just going here and there.

Q: Mr Towi used to sing. He memorised all the songs until I was given 6 songs.  How old were he and you?

A: My elder, Masaki, was still my elder. He was also related to Mr. Isi, still his own brother, and Mr Somo was Mr Towi’s brother.

Q: That's what he always said.

A: Towi was also good to me, he knows Isi. I also often go to Towi's mother's house who sells tempe.

Q: Towi was also good at singing. Did you know Mr Towi sang at that time?

A: I didn't know, Towi was from Gajo.

Q: Different?

A: Yes, different.

Q: You were in the south here, right?.

A: Right. Can Towi still sing?

Q: Still, his songs are good, no one knows them except me. Did the ludruk performances used to be crowded?

A: It was crowded back then.

Q: Where was it in the past?

A: Ludruk in Pace. I saw it with Kaimi. He waited for me while I was still grinding rice, until my mother grumbled.

Q: Where was Pace?

A: North of the cemetery.

Q: North of the village office?

A: Yes, north of the village office, west of the road. There used to be a ludruk performance place. It was called ludruk Dananulyo there. The sinden was very black (skin) and ugly. Her name was Harmanto, but when she was dressed up she became beautiful. Kaimi became so infatuated with her that he took her to the stall too. Harmanto also liked me, I was still handsome at that time. Many people liked me, but I was uncomfortable.

Q: Where in Soro, Grandpa?

A: What? 

Q: The ludruk performance?

A: In Keplak there, at Sardi's place, at Mr Arman's. It was all there. The beginning of Banyuwangi janger was famous. The gathering was at Grandpa Apik's.

Q: Who are Grandpa Apik and Grandpa Songo?

A: His wife was my father's sister. Grandpa Apik was Mr Cup's father, Mr Nogi.

Q: Was his house here?

A: Yes, his house was attached to my father's house. East to west. Grandpa Apik’s house faces south, my house faces north.

Q: Was he a shaman?

A: Yes, he was famous in the past. He could see in the leaves like that. This was real. The thing was, many were healed. The term was right on target so you know that Grandpa Apik.

Q: So, the jangers gather at Grandpa Apik?

A: Yes, the players did.

Q: Grandpa Apik was a janger player?

A: No, he wasn't. One of Grandpa Apik’s family member, his name was Grandpa Omplong, was a janger leader. They came from Gajo.

Q: O, his wife was from here.

A: Yes, her father's sister.

Q: Grandpa Songo's sister?

A: Yes, her name was Grandma Rubikon, but my mother was in Sepan. That's why I have a lot of family in Gajo.

Q: How are you related to Mr. Sukudu, Mr. Salyo?

A: Yes. I’m still related to him from his wife's side, whose name was Tewar. 

Q: So, the performance was at Keplak?

A: Yes, janger, ludruk from everywhere performed at Keplak there. It was very crowded. The venue was a big house.

Q: Mr Milan's ludruk also performed there?

A: Mr Milan's?

Q: Yes

A: No, Mr Milan’s ludruk was at the village level.

Q: I see. It's a small ludruk.

A: Mr Milan just a gendang (drum; wood holed then used buffalo skin.). The village group.

Q: In the hamlet, where was that?

A: Over there.

Q: I mean in Keplak, where famous groups perform, right?

A: Yes.

Q: The village level ludruk did enter the Keplak building, right?

A: Mr Milan’s ludruk wasn’t well-known. The famous one was Ludruk Arjuna 45. Then there was Mrs Tah's beautiful daughter who was so crazy about Anjasmara, Sarip. That she lost all her money.

Q: Drained of her wealth like that?

A: Yes, it was drained. All the food in her house (Mrs Tah's daughter). The beautiful Sarip was from Banyuwangi. He used to be a janger.

Q: At that time was there a Soro building or not?

A: Not yet.

Q: The Soro building was built after Gestok, right?

A: Yes, I think it was Mr Simpe who built it… Mr Milan was taken to Buru Island for 10 years, while I went to prison for only 9 months. My body was very thin. (When I went to prison) I only brought one packet of cigarettes. That's Gudang Garam. When I was new to prison, they asked me to smoke. I'm not an unpleasant person. So, I shared them. It turned out that there were no cigarettes at all, no one was selling. So, everyone was looking for cigarettes. So, even the cigarette ends were taken back. Yes, those who were addicted to cigarettes were like that. I'm okay with that.

Q: The leaves are burned like that...

A: The banana peel that was washed up in the river was eaten by a child from Adang. His body was damaged, it was fishy. When I first entered the prison, I was put in a room with 60 people. I couldn't sleep at all for three nights. Then I got sick. After some time, I was moved to a room that was a bit looser. Then I met my friends, my friends from Soro. Mr Milan was no longer there at that time.

Q: In the prison?

A: Yes, maybe he was summoned there... Wow, it was terrible. Every 10 o'clock (at night) an officer came with a kerosene lamp, opened the prison door ...grekkkk.... it was like death and life. It's like that all the time (every night). Every call rounded up 20 people. 

Q: Every night, Grandpa?

A: Right.

Q: Routinely, every night.

A: Yes, 20 people, 20 people.

Q: From that, you survived, 90 people left.

A: Yes, many of my friends from Gandu were paralysed. In the truck when he returned, his body was all broken. I was there (in prison) for nine months. I think he was there before me.

Q: But after that you didn't report to the Koramil?

A: Straight to the village office, then to the police station.

Q: The police station was still in Siwi?

A: No, it's north of the road, in Soro.

Q: That used to be the police station?

A: Kemantren (police deputy in Soro).

Q: O Kemantren.

A: There's a room in the building that's empty.

Q: Did you report there?

A: Yes, it was very cruel.

Q: Hitting, right, Grandpa?

A: Yes, his words were cruel and piercing.

Interviewer: Imam Muhtarom

Interviewee: Kasadi

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Transcript Notes


  1. How does Kasadi’s testimony illustrate his agency in navigating the Cold War in Indonesia amidst the massacres in the 1960s

  2. What kind of relationships did Kasadi maintain with people outside his village? Was it surprising that Kasadi could have obtained refuge from members of the armed forces? Why or why not?

  3. Was the September 30 Incident a pivotal moment that transformed how various social and political organizations interacted with each other at the village level, like Kasadi had mentioned? Why or why not?