Interview With Sarjoti

Sarjoti recounts his experiences as a BANSER combatant, and how he killed the most pro-PKI or anti-Islamic enemies during the 1965 Massacres in Indonesia.

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Gajo village native Sarjoti joined Ansor as early as 1958. Ansor expanded into BANSER, the organized armed wing of the Islamic group Nahadlatul Ulama (NU) in 1962; and he joined shortly after in 1963. When the 30 September 1965 coup occurred, he was only 23 years old. BANSER was tasked to defend the Muslim community and their religion from the onslaught of atheist activists from the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). As one who always sought praise, the young, energetic Sarjoti participated enthusiastically in the killings of those the NU suspected to be enemies of Islam. He shares proudly that he believes that he killed more individuals than any of his peers in BANSER.

When he first volunteered to kill an enemy, before the events of 1965, he was not skilled at making fatal strikes. His first victim survived the next day despite being stabbed and thrown into a river, before being killed by another BANSER member. However, he became more experienced as he killed more victims, eventually learning to precisely snap the neck of captives in a single move. Aware of his strong desire to earn praise, his friends encouraged him to take on difficult missions, including enemies that other combatants were unable to defeat. Sarjoti further explains that Blitar became a base for the PKI to regroup after 1965, and that he went there four times to fight them during Operation Trisula in 1968. Many of the PKI members who sought refuge there were not native to Blitar. Fleeing PKI members hid in a cave by the Brantas River, but their hideout was discovered and demolished by BANSER.

Many of these enemies were believed to be carrying protective amulets that made them immune to physical strikes. He recounts an occasion when a pro-PKI practitioner of magic hid up on a tree at night to evade BANSER fighters, but was discovered when he prayed loudly for protection. Sarjoti and his peers attempted to coerce him to surrender by threatening to kill his teacher of magical arts; and Sarjoti did murder the teacher when the student refused to come down. They then felled the tree to apprehend him, but he was invulnerable to their strikes. The BANSER unit had sought the advice of a cleric on ways to neutralize his defensive magic, but had forgotten their preparations in the heat of the moment. Sarjoti improvised by strangling him with a rope. The same night, they cycled to other provinces to attack PKI strongholds. Even the police supported their efforts, allowing them through a guard post after learning of their intentions. At times, the police handed over PKI suspects to BANSER militants. BANSER also responded to reports of pro-PKI peasant farmers unilaterally harvesting the rice crop of landowning Muslim farmers in the name of “profit sharing”. They allowed the raiders to gather the crops in sacks before deploying and seizing back the produce.

Like their PKI opponents, BANSER members also performed religious rituals or used mantras believed to allow them to subdue their enemies in single strikes. However, Sarjoti reports that such magical aids only worked when used in the defense of their faith. Despite being an accomplished executioner, he found that the spells did not work when he attempted to use them to subdue petty thieves. He was surprised to discover that unlike Muslim youth who were captured by PKI forces, captured PKI operatives surrendered without struggle. They were then killed according to quotas given by the authorities, or redistributed to other localities that had not met their killing quotas; before being buried in mass graves at the village graveyards. 

Outside confrontations in combat missions, BANSER’s Muslim youth also competed with their PKI rivals in other domains of traditional arts. The rival traditional theater groups, Lesbumi (from NU) and Lekra (under the PKI) competed by staging rival performances. The Muslim community was especially offended by Lekra’s staging of the play, The Death of God. BANSER retaliated by killing the Lekra leaders responsible for the production, which became Sarjoti’s first mission. Further, both BANSER and PKI youth pursued martial arts as a hobby, and would compete at public stages that were free for anyone to use. On one occasion, PKI hurt religious sentiments by trampling the Qur’an on the stage, and BANSER responded by issuing an invitation to a death match, by including a coffin on stage; in which Sarjoti represented his organization. Though the rewards for winning these matches were meager, often only a pack of cigarettes, he enjoyed the glory that it brought him, and the PKI did not perform such brazen acts from then on.

As they all lived within the same community, Sarjoti claims that everyone knew who their enemy was, and where each person’s political allegiance lay. There were even soldiers in the Indonesian military who supported the PKI. He notes that NU leadership only tasked BANSER to eliminate individuals who held authority or were actively engaged in activities that opposed the religious agenda. Even female enemies from the PKI’s women’s group, Gerwani, were killed. However, subordinates were sometimes killed for their superiors’ actions. Further, people killed enemies over personal disputes in the name of protecting their religion. Sarjoti himself killed a man who harassed his grandmother and threatened to kill her while she was going to the mosque. He admits that people were even killed for trivial issues. In retrospect, he is grateful that the authorities suppressed the massacres before they escalated to the extent of depopulating the community, which he feels was a very real possibility.

Question: I apologize, what is your full name?

Sarjoti: Sarjoti.

Question: Yesterday, I was informed that you are called Granpa Joti. Alright, your name is Sarjoti. How old were you at that time (September 30th 1965)?

Sarjoti: 23 years old. I was a person who liked to be praised. So, my friends always made me unable to refuse challenges. So, during the murders (of 1965), it was me who was always asked first. As a person who likes to be praised, I just enthusiastically wanted to participate. At that time among my fellow peers of my generation, no one had a greater number of victims (of murders) than me. Not even half of it.

Question: When did you join Anshor?

Sarjoti: Entered Ansor in 1958.

Question: Oh, long before 1965…

Sarjoti: I entered Ansor in 1958, then in 1962 Banser was formed in Blitar, led by Pak Yakubi. His secretary was Jimat.

Question: Was it the year 1962?

Sarjoti: I entered Banser between 1963 to 1964. Before that, I entered Ansor.

Question: How did you become interested to enter Ansor and Banser?

Sarjoti: Because I was a NU descendant. Indeed, NU people. So at that time Banser was the fortress or the wire fence of NU, the NU Party. At that time it was still the NU Party. Right now it is a mass organization. It was already the task of the NU youth, that if there was a religious struggle, it was their duty to defend Islam. Banser was the wire belt of NU. However, if someone wants to undermine the state, undermine religion, that was the task of Banser: to protect. NU's heroes were Banser. Ansor was Banser's younger brother. Ansor was the young one, while Banser was the core. At that time Banser was a champion of combat.

Question: What were the differences between Ansor and Banser?

Sarjoti: The difference was that Ansor wore a skullcap (on the head), and Banser wore a cabaret (flower).

Question: Was there a uniform?

Sarjoti: There was a uniform. Striped colours. Banser’s duty at the time of the Gestapo was to protect the country, to help safeguard religion. So, Banser could be said to be the backbone of NU, as NU's combat wing.

Question: Were you born in the village (Sepan hamlet, Gajo village)? 

Sarjoti: Yes, born here, my parents were from here.

Question: What actually happened in the village and its surroundings at that time?

Sarjoti: In 1948, there was a PKI rebellion in Madiun led by Musa (Muso) but failed. Because of that failure, they prepared themselves after that. In 1965, they (PKI) wanted to control the country. The rebellion was led by Subandrio. Then Untung led his army. There were three of his soldiers, the general was Hutapea belonging to the PKI. General Hutapea participated in leading the rebellion in South Blitar in 1968. When 1965 coup failed, it started a rebellion in 1968 from South Blitar. Then, there was Gerwani (Gerakan Wanita Indonesia; Indonesia Woman Movement), led by Nyi Sugito (a woman). They had jumped into South Blitar. Hutapea had a representative, Suyino, in Siwi. Suyino was the representative of the East Java Military Command (Pangdam Jawa Timur). Because there was a rebellion in South Blitar, Suyino was assigned. He brought a platoon along, complete with weapons. It turned out that he was PKI. Instead, he took the lead to South Blitar. So, the Banser members who were deployed in South Blitar had to face enemies who had firearms. Of course, the soldiers played a part in it. They were Suyino's troops. Suyino married in Siwi. His wife was nine.

Recording is okay. I'm a historical actor. I have spoken and been recorded at the Kamis hamlet funeral meet. There was Danramil (an army commander at the subdistrict level) and camat (a leader of the subdistrict). They didn't know about it. I asked them: How old are you? They said they were born in 1961. They said they knew nothing about the Gestapo (September 30th 1965 Movement).

Question: How was situation in the village early 1960?

Sarjoti: There was a Nasakom, an abbreviation of nasionalisme, agama, komunis (nationalism, religion, communism). Nas was soldiers, a was agama (religion) that meant NU, and kom was communist that mean PKI. But, finally they (PKI) revolted in Jakarta … the leader was Aidit.

Question: How was situation in Gajo village?

Sarjoti: Chaos. Threats were common. I experienced it myself. I had a deep grudge againt someone. His named was Jidi. The incident occurred a week before the Gestapo broke (September 30th 1965).

Question: It occurred in September 1965?

Sarjoti: Yes. So, at that time, I decided that I should be the one to kill him. Why? At that time, my grandmother went to the mosque and her veil was opened by someone with a sickle, who said, "This body would soon die". Having received this threat, my grandmother did not go to the mosque, and returned to the house immediately. My grandmother told me, and I asked, "Who did it?" "Jidi," my grandmother replied. " In my mind I was determined, “watch out, Jidi...” Therefore, when the incident broke (1965), I was determined that this figure (Jidi) should be handled by me (to kill him). I said so. No one else should handle it.

So, the conditions were threatening. My hobby was martial arts. There were already enemies. Aha ... there was young Anshor. At that time Banser was not known. Banser existed during the 1965 incident when the Gestapo broke. In the martial arts stage there was already hostility with Pemuda Rakyat (PKI's youth organization). So, anyone could memorize the Pemuda Rakyat in Siwi (subdistrict). They were all enemies.

Question: So, did they threaten each other (before the 1965 incident)?

Sarjoti: Right, they did threaten each other. In any martial arts stage, if Pemuda Rakyat emerged, that meant it was the enemy. We had no choice because their words didn’t give us a good feeling.

There was an incident in Mbrang Lor (northern mountains, north Siwi subdistrict). It happened before the Gestapo. The Koran was trampled by the Pemuda Rakyat, by the PKI, the communists… It was a threat. It was a challenge to each other. If you want to come, just come. A coffin was immediately provided at the martial arts stage. It wasn't the Gestapo time yet. Alhamdulillah (thank God), Ansor people did not lose. We won in terms of responsibility, won in defense of religion. So, this was jihad.

Meanwhile, there were many murders in villages. All villagers were watched. There was a massacre in Raka hamlet. Before it, there was a murder incident in Pace village. His name was Sabit, a kamituwo (leader of hamlets) in Pace village. He was brave and powerful. 

Question: Was he in PKI?

Sarjoti: PKI. The Anshor Kamis youth, the Anshor Pace youth, all of them ran away unable face Sabit. They knew that they were facing someone with magic power. At the time Sabit climbed up to the top of the coconut tree. Then, we (Matito, me, Matati, and Jaswi) were forced to face him. Previously their search for Sabit was unsuccessful. So we asked for help from Cleric Dita (a powerful Islamic mystic). 'Where is this Sabit, Uncle?' we asked. 'He is not far away. There is a big tree there," answered Cleric Dita. At that time we didn't know exactly. There were sengon and coconut trees. I could not believe Cleric Dita’s message. "Oh, Cleric Dita's all talk, how come he isn't here," I thought. But Cleric Dita had warned us to be careful in facing Sabit. Sabit was Mr Nabi's friend, Cleric Dita's younger brother. So, he still got his advice from Cleric Langit, the father of Cleric Dita. He was a magic figure in Pace village. We were told to bring sembukan leaf. Sabit had magic of purbo kencono. His magic is neutralized when rubbed with a leaf puff. So at 7pm we all went to the moor looking for the healing leaves. So I could immediately put it in my jacket. There were five of us. Then looking between coconut and sengon trees, we did not find him. We felt hopeless. We thought, 'Cleric Dita, were you not cheating?’. Then Anshor members from the local hamlets decided to return home. So, the five of us were left. We walked around under the trees, pointing our flashlights upwards. Perhaps Sabit was very afraid. His voice could be heard from above "Allahu Akbar" (The great God). Even though at that time we did not see him, because Sabit climbed a tree so that he was not visible. 

We all heard it. "That's the guy!" We shouted. Ansor members from the village heard that and returned to the location. We then gathered together again. We pointed the flashlight in the direction of Sabit. He didn't want to come down when we asked. Well, at that time he had a perguruan (informal college of magic power in hamlets). The teacher's name was Grandpa Jema, a sorcerer. We took him from the house and we brought him under a coconut tree. We said, 'Come down immediately or we will kill your guru!' So the guru, Jema, said to Sabit, 'Son, come down here. We will go together to the kemantren (official administration of the subdistrict, above the village level)’ ‘No, Grandfather, I will come down the next morning,’ Sabit replied.

Grandpa Jema’s house was near Pace market. Because Sabit didn't want to come down, I decided that guru Jema was to be killed. He was also a PKI man. So I took him to the side of the crowd, then I immediately bent his neck and he died.

After that, I returned to the location. We looked for a table topped with straw. Shielding ourselves under this table, the coconut trunk was sawed off. The manual saw took a long time. At that time there were no chainsaws. Meanwhile Sabit threw down a coconut from above. Lots of coconut fruit at that time. Because three large bunches of coconut straw were put on it, the coconuts bounced off. The sawing could continue. Later this coconut tree collapsed finally. It collapsed to the north... 'bresss!'. We were busy chasing him. We got him. Our hands and feet were bent over the coconut tree trunk. Then one man held his hands and the other held his legs. The five of us then slashed Sabit’s head as hard as we could. Amazing! There was not the slightest wound, not even the slightest scratch. Sabit was really powerful. There was no comparison in the southern Siwi region. His body seemed to turn into a tire. Our machetes bounced off every time they touched Sabit's skin. At that time I did not remember the leaves we were looking for this evening from Cleric Dita. We remembered it after Sabit was killed.

Question: In the end, how did you kill him?

Sarjoti: Finally I searched his body. I took found an amulet in the form of a small keris and the cinde amulet in the form of a small, dull cloth. I threw the small keris into the river near the location, while I gave the shabby cloth to grandpa Sani. Grandpa Sani said, "Just leave it here (the cinde cloth)". I just gave him the cloth. I didn't need it. However even after his charm was confiscated, Sabit still could not be hacked. I was surprised and tired. Finally I was behind the house nearby. I cut a plastic rope from a cow's neck. I was sure that if you didn't breathe, you would die. We tied the rope tightly to his neck and body. Then we draged him east and west on the ground. As l remember, one hour passed. Finally Sabit died. His body was intact even at his death. That happened in Pace village. His name was Sabit, as a leader of hamlets (kamituwo) in Pace village. 

Question: So at the top of the coconut tree he shouted 'Allahu Akbar'?

Sarjoti: it was his Allahu Akbar shout that let us know where Sabit was. If he didn't shout it, then we would not have known Sabit's whereabouts… Below we just pointed the flashlight upwards. At that time we did not know whether he was there. But just then Sabit felt that we below had seen him, so he shouted it. If he didn't scream, we wouldn't have known. 

Question: Wasn’t he a santri (student of Islam), judging from his name?

Sarjoti: Indeed, a santri. He was a santri of Cleric Langit. He changed to become a PKI member because he was interested in the kamituwo position.

Question: How did he change?

Sarjoti:  ‘Cause of interest in the position, and friendship. At that time the PKI was very smart and was aggressively looking for members….

Question: Did many villagers convert from Islam to PKI?

Sarjoti: I don’t know if they converted or not. Clearly, Sabit was a part of PKI. At that time, his daughter was studying at the pondok (Moslem boarding school) in Kediri. Sabit was a smart person. He was a friend of Mr Nabi, the younger brother of Cleric Dita, who was also the son of  Cleric Langit.

We had gone from Pace village at around 00.30 a.m. At that time villagers of Pace village dispersed from Sabit’s place. The villagers ran when they learnt Sabit was running amok. Meanwhile, I didn’t know Sabit was powerful, so I was relaxed about dealing with him. And it was my duty as a Banser member. So, I just be brave, there was no fear at all.

Then that night we went straight north to the hamlet of Raka through Siwi town. Until at Siwi we were stopped by the police. This policeman also made excuses for us. We were the ones assigned to face the PKI. We were finally driven by jeep to Raka. As soon as we got Raka in that ugly jeep, we were disembarked, and the police returned to their post at Siwi. The PKI figures should just have shot them on the roof tile. But, the police didn't want to act. Apparently there were many Banser members there. Many santri (student of Muslim school) studying under Cleric Makruf gathered there. All Banser from Poko hamlet, and Degan hamlet gathered there. They were accompanied by Safar.

Now it turns out, there were already five PKI people on the tile. Unfortunately, one of the PKI members on the roof was hit with a fallen pole. Once he fell, he was tied to the lamtoro tree in the yard. When I arrived, I was the target. Unfortunately for him , I always defeated enemies and my character is one of liking to be praised. My friends said, "(Sarjoti), that's your victim..." I didn't need to approach him for long. I killed him immediately. 

Question: Killed him with machete or swords?

Sarjoti: Not with weapons. I just twisted the neck, he died immediately. I also hit him just once. At that time, we had a power (me and my four friends) that we would be able to kill someone in one hit. Thanks to the mantra (asmak) of Cleric Hayat from Kadem. Principally the power was to defend religion only. It works very well. Once hit, the PKI figure immediately collapses, and dies. No need to slaughter. In the past, Cleric Hayat’s message was true. One time, when Gestapo was over, a thief was caught in the village. The thief came from Malang (regency). The thief was beaten, but they could not kill him. Then I was summoned because I was a famous executioner. I came there. Before leaving, I performed ablution and prayed first. I chanted the mantra (asmak) from Cleric Hayat. At the location, I beat this thief but, he just glared. In fact, my hands were all bruised. With no other way, I entered the house and took a hoe. I hit him with a hoe. Finally, he died.

At that time I just realized the truth of Cleric Hayat’s messages. The mantra (asmak) was only for fighting to defend religion during the Gestapo and not in other things. Proven by how, when used just to hit a thief, the power of the mantra could be lost. 

Question: The condition of society before 1965 was precarious, wasn't it?

Sarjoti: At that time the condition was precarious.

Question: How was it precarious?

Sarjoti: It was a critical issue that religion was disturbed. Religious activities (Islam) were disturbed.

Question: Give me a example?

Sarjoti: My NU leader in Soro, Mr. Mahisa, was kidnapped and killed. That was what made the whole Siwi district Banser furious.

Questioner: That was before the Gestapo, right, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Right.

Questioner: Was he a cleric, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: He was the head of the NU branch.

Questioner: Oh, the head of the NU Branch…

Sarjoti: Back to the story in Raka village… then after being hit with a pole, one PKI member fell, there were still three figures left… Sorry, two figures.

Questioner: From the tree, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: No, they were on the roof of the house. There were three new houses, the roof tiles were removed to throw down the people who wanted to catch them. Despite deploying hundreds of people (Banser) led by Solleh and Mr Kanji, it turned out that they were not able to arrest the PKI. As soon as they saw me coming, they said, 'Jot, that's your share, all of them. Come on up Jot.' I went up. Once I got up using the stairs, tiles were thrown from above. I fell to the ground. Surprisingly I was able to get up again soon. This was the magic of asmak I received from the cleric. If not, surely I was done for. I then crept into the house. I heard the two PKI figures above were planning where they were fleeing to be safe. I was hungry then. In the house, there was a plate of sweet potatoes. I ate them right away. Then there was a glass of drink there, too. I drank it. I also didn't think about being poisoned. I didn't care because I very hungry. Obviously, this was for me right, wasn’t it? Outside I heard people making noise. 'Where is Joti? Where is Joti?’ Then Solleh saw me in the house. 'There‘s Joti’ He called me out to the yard. 'This was my blade. Still very sharp. Come on up again.' Still I was persuaded again. I was always not able to refuse a challenge. My character was that, I like to be praised. I finally went up to the roof again. The roof of the house had been tiled, even though there were three houses that were still new. Then I chased after the two remaining people on the roof truss. Kept chasing. Then unfortunately my foot slipped. Even though the position I was pursuing was not far away. He brought a sickle. He wanted to swing his sickle at me. Indeed, Solleh's sword was really sharp. Before he could swing, I got up and pointed my sword at his neck. Success! With one slash, the neck was almost severed from the body. His head hung down and fell to the floor. 'Pyekk.'

Then I chased one person. When I chased him he ran. If I stopped, he stopped too. As soon as I retreated, it was my turn to be chased. He brought a sickle. Then he walked near the gutter 'krepyek-krepyek'. He approached me with a scary motion about to swing his sickle (ngaga'-ngaga'ki). Not wanting to linger I swung my sword as fast as I could into his stomach. The sword was indeed very sharp and.. 'bloh'. A hit. The entrails spilled out. One hit, he fell down. Then I also came down from the roof. We had four corpses in the morning.

We took down five figures that night. It was a night incident which coincided with the Sabit incident in Pace village.

Questioner: Were all those in the yard NU members? 

Sarjoti: Yes, all NU members. From Banser and Ansor. Banser was the main, while those who were not Banser were Anshor.

Questioner: So, you went directly to Raka after finishing at Pace village?

Sarjoti: Yes, then we met the police in Siwi, and then taken to Raka. When we arrived at Raka, after we were dropped off, the police returned to Siwi immediately.

Questioner: Were the police always like that?

Sarjoti: Right. We (Banser) were always pitted against the PKI. After that occurred, there was an event called the “quota” incident. At that time, there was an allowance at our place… For those who didn't something, we were asked to stand guard at the post. Meanwhile, those who got the task of killing them  just kept going to the graves. There were 16 graves (for men or women to be killed) there.

Questioner: Which graves did you go to?

Sarjoti: All the graves were there. I went to all. So, those whom the police arrested were then handed over to the leader of Banser, then directed to a certain grave. In Kamis hamlet, 16 people (were killed)…

Questioner: In Sopo village, were there...

Sarjoti: Yes, in Sopo there were 9 people (killed).

Questioner: There was a name Dato ... Was Dato from Gajo?

Sarjoti: Dato was from Gajo. He was a friend of my father's cattle trader, whom I met at the market... I led him holding his hand. Unexpectedly my friend called me, 'Ti, Joti.' My father's friend apparently heard of the killing and pleadingly called my name 'Ti, Joti…' I replied, 'This is not Joti (from) Sepan, I am Joti (from) Siwi.' The person was blindfolded.  He was put in a Sopo grave.

So, in the Sopo village graveyard, nine to ten people were killed. There were sixteen people (killed) in Kamis graveyard. Sepan graveyard, eight people (killed). Titeng/Nandes graveyard, ten people (killed). Soro graveyard… In every quota I was always there, I was always taken. Yes, indeed (I, Sarjoti) like praise.

Questioner: Who brought you?

Sarjoti: My own friends, also my leader (in Banser). My leader always put me in first.

Questioner: What was the name of the leader, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Field leader was Matito from Degan hamlet. The office heads are Asum and Subi. Not long ago a reunion was held at Asum's house...

Questioner: Asum, who was the village secretary?

Sarjoti: That's not it. Asum, the leader of Banser. The person was rather short, a teacher. Asum the village secretary was with me in Sana. Not him. It turned out that there were only five Banser people from the 32 in Siwi district. Some are dead, some are old. Gajo village was where most of the Banser youths were brought to Jakarta, so five people remained. Now it's just me. Mas Ali just died. Abbas, Saeni, and Matito have also died. It's just me.

Questioner: What year did you go to Jakarta?

Sarjoti: That was after 1965, after the assassination…

Questioner: Pijan from Degan hamlet, also came. Currently his eyes are going a bit blind.

Sarjoti: Pijan was Khamdan's brother, wasn’t he?

Questioner: Right.

Sarjoti: He didn’t go. Only Matito came to Jakarta.

Penanya: That was after Gestok, Grandpa …

Sarjoti: Yes. It was in the hostel for the 40th NU Anniversarry (harlah) in Jakarta. So, all Banser were invited including a leader of Banser Blitar, Mr. Yakubi. There were 300 people from Blitar. One battalion… even though it was anniversary, it turned out to be very tight there. When the anniversary was held there were airplanes circling in the sky. At that time there were many high-ranking officials from the PKI still around. It was very tight. If you wanted to leave the hostel, you would be escorted by the police. Especially those from Blitar. Even if you leave the hostel just to buy snacks or food.

Questioner: Perhaps you were considered a hero, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: No, they were worried if we did commotion, especially (Banser) from Blitar. We just slept guarded. Yes, it was fine, just slept guarded by the police and soldiers.

Questioner: Where were the activities, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: In Senayan, each had its own post (hostel). I was in South Jakarta, near a money printing press.

Questioner: How was the condition of the PKI after Gestok, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: At that time there was the issue of the wheels being reversed. I didn't dare to sleep at home for more than one month. Reportedly the killers were going to be arrested by the police. We were honest (and innocent). In the end nothing happened and I just stayed safe. At that time they wanted to rebel. Now, the term for that is a human rights violation. Finally safe. But for more than 1 or 2 months every night I slept on the moor. Finally, in 1968 the rebellion (PKI) occurred. The woman's name was Nyi Sugito, the general's was Hutapea from Batak. Finally the general died in Bina. This general led a rebellion there, kidnapping NU people north of the river (Brantas). They were armed with firearms. Then Suyino from the East Java Regional Military Commander was assigned to eradicate this rebellion. Unexpectedly he was the mastermind of the PKI. He brought a company of fully armed troops to help the South Blitar rebellion. 

Questioner: Did you participate during the Trisula Operation in 1968 in South Blitar?

Sarjoti: Of course, I did. I had been to South Blitar four times. I was re-registered, re-registered, up to four times. Every two weeks I changed, then re-registered.

Questioner: What happened in South Blitar?

Sarjoti: What happened there was that the PKI regrouped. The majority of NU people were on the north side of the Brantas river. These PKI people wanted to infiltrate the north. So, Banser was placed on the north bank of the river every 15 meters. So, the line along the Brantas river was guarded. If they (PKI) infiltrated the north side, they were shot in the middle of the river. If they survived, they’d get shot again. Could they stand swimming in the wide Brantas River? But, they were like mice swimming in a river.

Sarjoti: At that time PKI did kidnap the clerics in north of the river. That was what they were looking for. Once in Renggo hamlet, Seni (village). At that time I was assigned to that place. Looking for people who often carry out kidnappings. Searched everywhere but couldn't find them. The person jumped into the river then disappeared. After a long time, it turned out that the person was hiding on the edge of the river in a cave. Maybe an artificial cave. Don’t know how much people hide in the cave. Anyway, going inside, they disappear instantly. Its name was Renggo hamlet. It was known when we hunted the PKI, they would disappear without a trace, meaning they entered the cave. Finally the plain above the cave was pushed inward until the cave ceiling collapsed.

Questioner: Were all these people from outside, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Yes, some were from outside, some are people from the south of the river (kidul kali). The PKI figures were the outsiders.

Questioner: Were there many PKI members in South Blitar, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: South Blitar was the PKI base. The PKI rebellion began in South Blitar. Hutapea couldn't speak Javanese. He was caught in Bina district. He was arrested after the villagers were threatened (by the army) that if they were to hide Hutapea, then they would be accused as being from the PKI as well. So, they, the villagers in Bina, were afraid of being accused as PKI and became really vigilant. Once, a mysterious person was questioned, but could not answer, and instead ran away. So he was chased and he was stoned to death. It was the ordinary villagers who killed this Hutapea, instead of the soldiers. So this resident was given a gift (by the military/government) a pair of cows and agricultural equipment.

These rebels always hide like rats. They eat cassava, tales, raw bananas. Yes, they couldn’t go out, afraid of being caught. They hid in the cave. So, if you find it, the cave will be opened.

Questioner: There were many PKI members, right?

Sarjoti: So many…

Questioner: What were the characteristics or criteria for the PKI members who got killed?

Sarjoti: The characteristics… they were an organization, right? They were registered. For example, in your village, if you were a Banser or Anshor, everyone knows that you were a Banser. The PKI also knew who was the leader of NU, who was the head of the branch, who was the head of the ranting (twig; bottom rung of the mass organization). Everyone was already known. On the other hand, NU people knew who was the leader of the PKI, who was the leader of Pemuda Rakyat, who was Gerwani's leader. All known. The men already knew who was in a high position. Everyone knew. So, it would not go wrong.

Questioner: Were the targets leaders or their subordinates?

Sarjoti: The leaders. The important ones were those who were considered dangerous. If we go after all of his men, there would be too many victims. Only the leaders (were killed). There were lots of women too. In Siwi, if I am not mistaken, 7-8 women were also slaughtered. The wife of the leader of Seru, Anyar village, then Sepan hamlet here, Soro, and Titeng.

Questioner: Were they leaders, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Yes, the leaders. So, the data was very clear. However, the mastermind of the PKI was not even on the list. They were killed on behalf of other people. Those who were taken to Buru (island) were the masterminds. That's the cunning of the PKI.

Questioner: So the one who got hit was the subordinate instead, right?

Sarjoti: Right

Questioner: Was Suyino caught in the end?

Sarjoti: Arrested, that's a matter with the government. He was an important official.

Questioner: So, before the Gestok, every villager knew which neighbours were PKI and which were not?

Sarjoti: yes, all villagers knew.

Questioner: So, how was the relationship between neighbours, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Neighbourhood relations were normal, but in terms of organization they were opposite. For example, if there were NU people doing worship activities, in fact they (PKI) should interfere. But rarely did they dare to interfere.

Then, before the Gestapo took place, there was a unilateral action by the PKI. Everywhere there were unilateral actions. Those with large fields would be affected by these unilateral actions. There was a rice field where before harvest, the rice was harvested by the PKI. It happened in Gajo village and many villages. Finally, we reacted. At that time I was already in Banser. So I mobilized the youth. I invited Islamic boarding school students like Asma to move against them. Funnily enough, they were allowed to harvest the rice, and when they were done, the youths stormed in. They were running, while the rice was ready in the sacks on the side of the road. At that time, rice was taken from the owner of the field.

The occurrence of the unilateral action take in many villages. It also happened in Nandes village, suddenly the rice in the fields was harvested right away.

Questioner: Were these done by the neighbours themselves?

Sarjoti: Yes, there were neighbours also invited from other regions. Banser as well as invited from Gandu village to fight it (unilateral actions).

Questioner: Was it before Gestok, Mbah?

Herdjito: Yes. After Gestok, they (PKI) did not dare to do anything. They were finished off after Gestok.

Questioner: What were the other reasons that made the people (NU) angry?

Sarjoti: Namely, the leaders were kidnapped. NU leaders were killed, clerics were killed.

Questioner: Then harvesting rice in the fields …

Sarjoti: Yes, profit sharing was the name (for the unilateral actions).

Questioner: So, they didn’t plant but harvested.

Sarjoti: Right. I mean, they harvested and took for themselves.

Questioner: Besides Mr. Mahisa, the chairman of the NU branch who was killed, was there any other (NU) figure who was killed, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: His name was Haji Taram from Sombo village, but he survived. He was one who didn't give up easily, he fights resolutely.

Questioner: Grandpa, when you first met PKI people, how did you feel?

Sarjoti: Yes, we were staring at each other like that. I had always been hostile to the Pemuda Rakyat. Enemies on the street and in the martial arts stage. We had a martial arts stage in the middle of the rice fields on the road from Gajo village to Alasrame village. Usually if there were an enemy from Pemuda Rakyat, I was invited to compete, and for that I would be given a pack of cigarettes. On the street too. There was a girlfriend issue with the Pemuda Rakyat, so a fight broke out. I was always beaten by my friends. I was a reckless person, I also like to be praised.

Questioner: Where did you usually meet (for a martial arts match) with the PKI?

Herdjito: Yes, in those invitations. They (PKI) were also brave.

Questioner: For example, in wedding invitations…?

Sarjoti: Yes, the stages were free for all, anyone could use, including the PKI… Have you ever been to the northern mountains (Siwi), in Telagasa, where… PKI people trampled the Koran on the stage. So, not in any way half-hearted, we placed a coffin on the stage (for a fight to the death). But the NU people were strong. Just went up the stage and after no more than 3 hits, the opponent fell. Then the NU people were the champions. There were a lot of santri (students). Yes, in no more than 3-4 hits the opponent (PKI) fells on the stage. But not to death. After that they (PKI people) did not go up again.

Questioner: Earlier, you told me that your grandmother was disturbed, with her veil …

Sarjoti: The hood was opened with the tip of the sickle, and he said, "You would die soon." In fact, at that time the Gestapo erupted less than 5 days later, less than a week. That's a challenge. People there understood his behavior. He was a somewhat prominent PKI figure in the Sepan hamlet.

Questioner: His name was Sukudu, right?

Sarjoti: Yes, his name was Sukudu. Then the Gerwani figure, her name was Sugetan.

Questioner:  Was she Sukudu's wife?

Sarjoti: No, his sister.

Questioner: She was the leader…

Sarjoti: The Gerwani leader.

Questioner: A leader of Gerwani in Siwi?

Sarjoti: The head of the Gerwani branch in Gajo village.

Questioner: What about this Sukudu?

Sarjoti: He was a member of the PKI, but also a thief. Sukudu's wife was not even arrested.

Questioner: She was safe ...

Sarjoti: She didn't get involved. Even his sister got hit. She had a position

Questioner: Had a position?

Sarjoti: Yes, she had a position as a leader in Gerwani.

Questioner: Was Sugetan Sukudu's sister?

Sarjoti: Yes. Sugetan was Sukudu's younger sister. They were just two siblings… He used to be arrogant and very rude. There was a call to prayer, wow, he actually played (with a tape-like device) a loud gong (traditional music device). His house was near the surau. There were people reciting the Koran … 

In the past there was a popular song, “Genjer-genjer”. The abbreviation “genjer” meant “gerakan numpas jendral” (the movement of erased the generals).

Questioner: This story shows that there used to be Gerwani here. So, does that mean NU was in the arts?

Sarjoti: We used to have martial arts, then diba'an, orkes, kencrengan, drama. Then there was Lesbumi. It used to be our drama group to rival PKI’s Lekra. Drumbands were competing against each other at that time. NU people had a lot of drumband groups. Each village had a drumband unit. So the sub-district (Siwi) had many units (drumbands). Meanwhile, when the PKI came out once, their drumband had a lot of players. Wearing red clothes. One of their units. NU had 1 unit in each village in the subdistrict. The PKI drumband was indeed good, but yes, there was only one group.

Questioner: Grandpa, the PKI members would not automatically be killed, would they?

Sarjoti: Yes, first we look at the report, how was their activities? Sometimes there were thieves too. There was a mixture of jealousy and envy as well. So, if this (killing) continues, the population would be completely killed. For small bitter sentiments, someone was killed. A little dislike, and they got killed. In this case, fortunately the government has wisdom. There were rules.

Previously, whoever was appointed (PKI), was immediately chased and arrested. … But it is less reckless than PKI was with the NU people, the Muslims. Muslims had guidelines. It's jihad to die defending religion. But they didn't have that… At that time, I was with five friends who were assigned to Basatan, from Sejong to Siso. There were reports (of the PKI); we just seek out the PKI people. Unexpectedly, they (the PKI) were also on guard in the village. We just caught them ourselves. Then the local NU branch did report it. When I came from the dormitory, we were immediately shown it was the figure … it was the figure. So, they were just doing a report only. Usually the five of us brought in 7 or 8 people (PKI). Surprisingly, they (PKI) knew that they would be arrested and slaughtered, but did not dare to fight. They were arrested, and just obeyed instructions.

It was different if that happened to NU people, Muslims. Sure, they fought regardless of the result.

Questioner: But, they (PKI) didn't, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Yes. When asked to throw away his sword, he dropped his sword. We just tied him up and took him to the grave together. Sometimes the five of us brought in 7 people. If they were against us, how is it balanced? It's not balanced.

Questioner: 1 person brought in 5 ​​people?

Sarjoti: 5 people brought in 7. They were more in number than us. But they simply obeyed. On the other hand, we Muslims have jihad guidelines. Whether you win or lose, the important thing was to fight first.

Then in 1966… during the NU anniversary in Jakarta, we paid tribute at Lubang Buaya. At the graves of the generals. The location was a former rubber plantation where the murder took place. Lubang Buaya was for burials. Lubang Buaya was just a well, right? The wells were shallow. About 5 meters. There were houses around it. There was a Gerwani member's house where they held a meeting on the rebellion plan. So that's the place where they buried the generals. The house was a Betawi style house, clones. There are stored Rice, mortar, and pestles were stored there. Until now it still exists. Cars used to transport food ingredients are also kept there. Just replaced the tires, and repainted them. Then General A. Yani's sedan is also still there, it was red. The general's body was buried there and found later.

They were not playing cruelly. In the PKI’s plan to massacre, if santri-Banser were caught, they had their own tools (to torture). They were shaped like glasses. So, the tool would be put in someone's eye and when released, the eyeball will also be gouged out of the hole. That's why these generals brutally killed, stripped naked, and these Gerwani members danced in front of these generals, namely A. Yani, Utoyo…

Questioner: Did the hot situation begin before 1965, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Actually, it's not hot. They had loopholes. They did attack first so that NU would not be prepared. They had a way (strategy)… At Lubang Buaya, Banteng Square was used for Gerwani’s training. There was the army general on their side (PKI), namely General Parman (he means Brigadier General Supardjo, IM) who was sent from Pontianak to Jakarta. Then from Cakrabhirawa there were Untung and Nyono, who were later on trial at the Mahmilub (Extraordinary Military Court). Then the general who was assigned in 1968 was General Hutapea from Batak. Then Suyino, the deputy of the East Java Regional Military Commander, Surabaya.

Questioner: Were you one of the leaders (of Banser)?

Sarjoti: In the Gajo village branch.

Questioner: The leader of the Banser Branch of Gajo village, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Right.

Questioner: How long did it take…?

Sarjoti: Those killings?

Questioner: Yes

Sarjoti: They lasted 1 to 1.5 months. Luckily not for long. Because whenever there was a little sense of  dislike, people slaughtered. Just a little jealous, slaughtered. We could have been depopulated. Fortunately, the government was wise.

Questioner: At that time Mr. Harto was already in a high position…

Sarjoti: When I was invited to Jakarta, Mr. Harto was still a brigadier general. At that time, the top leader was not Soeharto… At that time, Soeharto didn't have any role.

Questioner: In Gajo village at that time, what did the people generally choose, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: NU, of course. They (PKI) lost in numbers. Not even a not one-fifth of the people supported them. The majority here were Muslims.

Questioner: Most of them studied at pondok (Islamic boarding schools)?

Sarjoti: Yes… when I was staying at the Pondok Kanan, Gandu, I was already hostile to the PKI. The same with my friend, Asma, as was his sister. There, if there was an invitation to martial arts stage, I was always present. I really mean it. And my friends were always pushing me, 'You have to come. There would be people from Pemuda Rakyat.' Wow, I excited to hear that and fight. In fact, I didn’t get anything valuable. At most, I bought 1 gourami and burned it after returning from the martial art stage. Only once was I excited and willing to die on stage.

Questioner: Had people threatened each other before Gestok?

Sarjoti: Yes, before Gestok.

Questioner: Why did they dare to, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Yes, they had guts too… but why, that, depends on the group. If it's in an area where the majority was pro-PKI, they were brave. If not much, they didn't dare. Then there were those who interfered with the PNI. PNI was not involved (in the conflict).

Questioner: Was PNI close to Anshor or PKI, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: The PNI was not taking sides, in the middle. PNI was Sukarno's party. Never got into conflict. Those who were hostile to the youth of NU, the Banser... if it was a night like this, our job was to sharpen (the sword). Usually done in dormitory…

Questioner: Where was the dormitory, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: At Kaman mosque (Siwi city), in the middle of people's houses. It was located in the south of the market (in Siwi). Now on the north side of the police office. My dormitory was around the mosque. We gathered there. My post was right there. The task began at night from there. During the day we sharpened swords. When night arrived the task was assigned to us, who went out. The division of duties was done at the dormitory.

Questioner: So, you already know who was PKI, the data was clear, right Grandpa?

Sarjoti: The data was clear. We already knew beforehand. In every village, Anshor's leader knew that this figure was the head of the PKI, that person was secretary, and everything. So, if you catch someone, the data already existed.

Questioner: Did those people just stay at home, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Yes, but some of them went away too.

Questioner: Gone and didn't come back?

Sarjoti: Right.


Sarjoti: I knew what happened in Soro at that time. I definitely knew… About the unilateral action, I certainly knew. Because Banser was the spear of NU. If NU residents were disturbed, Banser would definitely go to defend them. Surely I would participate.

Questioner: With Mr. Kaimi?

Sarjoti: Yes, Kaimi was executor for the Kamis-Pace village area.

Questioner: I heard that there were many PKI members in Siwi. But in which areas?

Sarjoti: That's in Kramas, and Seru, even the head of the PKI - his wife, the leader of Gerwani, was in Anyar, south of Siwi train station. In Seru village 80 percent of the people were PKI.

Questioner: What about Soro village?

Sarjoti: PKI existed in Soro, but was not the majority. There were many NU people and NU figures in Soro… In Soro, Kabir was arrested, but only his wife was slaughtered. She was the leader of Gerwani. Meanwhile, Kabir was an ordinary PKI member. He didn't have to be slaughtered.

Questioner: The Gerwani leader in Selopuro, Grandpa …

Sarjoti: Yes, the leader of Gerwani’s Selopuro branch.

Questioner: Then brother of Marguni?

Sarjoti: Jimar.

Questioner: Was he dead or not?

Sarjoti: Ran away. Don't know if he came home.

Questioner: For Gerwani, who got killed Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Yes, the boys (Banser).

Questioner: I think women…

Sarjoti: Oh, no ...

Questioner: Were they (Gerwani members) killed in the graveyard?

Sarjoti: Yes. There were who firmly asked to speak before being killed. He was PKI, from Malang. It was at the Sopo village graveyard. 'I need a moment,' he asked. We had been give him time. 'Long live PKI, long live Gerwani, long live Aidit!!' Instead of constantly blabbering, just get hacked…. That person was arrested by the police and Banser just accepted it. The man was in handcuffs.

Questioner: Were many PKI people powerful, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: No. All I knew was the Pace one, Sabit. Sabit was a friend of Cleric Dita’s younger brother, Nabi. They were both good at martial arts. This Nabi liked to compete at the martial arts stage and liked talismans. Mr. Nabi was indeed sacred. It was normal for him to enter the pit of red brick burning fire. It was common. But his death was by burning in pencak kobong, martial arts with fire. The cause was his disturbing a leader of Gandu village. This person knew magic. Nabi's death angered his fellow classmates (from a traditional college of magic), Kunir from Mangan, Sogok sub-district. Including his fellow college mate, with Sabit from Pace. However, the cleric from the Pondok Kanan (Islamic Boarding School) advised them to refrain. He said, 'Later. It's not time yet.' That happened in 1951. The village head of Kanan village was indeed a PKI supporter and a former robber. Well, it was when the Gestok erupted in 1965 that Kunir chased back the head of the Kanan village. Indeed the head of Kanan village was powerful, his old Javanese magic was also powerful. Chased by Kunir, he disappeared and turned into a running cat. But in the end Kunir managed to slaughter the head of the Kanan village and took his head to Mangan. It took 14 years to kill the Head of Kanan village. So, the words of the cleric from the Pondok Kanan were powerful.

Questioner: In Blitar regency, which area had the most PKI?

Sarjoti: Many of those which were located in parcels of land in the northern region of Blitar regency, including the plantations in Sogok. If the PKI (Siwi sub-district) was here, the southern part of the PKI was Risik, passing through Bambung. Once, in an operation on a coffee plantation, we just took a truck from the plantation. Turns out the truck’s engine couldn't start. Finally we pushed on until we reached Siwi. Suddently at Siwi, Mr. Boto, the Head of the Koramil asked for the truck. That was rude.

Operations in the area were not very successful. We searched for them but did not find anyone. They were shot at and ran. Only 2 people from the PKI were caught… oh, 3 people. These 3 people were finally caught and killed in a mosque in Bambung. One of them was the leader of Lekra in Siwi. They once staged a ludruk play entitled "The Death of God". The Banser people had a grudge against this figure. At that time the operation was carried out by Blitar’s Banser unit. Each sub-district had 5 Banser members who participated. Then we were asked who wants to slaughter the catch. No one raised their hand. I'm proud not to raise my hand. I like to be praised. Finally I was ready. ‘Gajo,' I said as I stood up. At that time I hadn’t slaughtered people. So it was my first time killing. I stabbed but it was not perfect. His neck didn't break. I threw the body into a small river (kalenan) near the mosque. That night he still woke up asking for water. The one who finally killed the man was a member of Bambung Banser.

Questioner: Who asked for water?

Sarjoti: the PKI people that I “killed”. Yes, at that time I was still nervous, it was my first time (slaughtering).

Questioner: When was that, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: It was the time of the Gestok riots, after September 30, 1965.

Questioner: The one who made the play 'The death of God’ made you angry …

Sarjoti: 'The death of God’. Very rude. That's a great humiliation. It was very popular at that time (the play).

Questioner: What was the name of the Lekra member, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: I don't know his name. Anyway, he was the leader of Siwi’s Lekra.


Sarjoti: I'm part of the Banser here. We pray at the mosque here.

Questioner: Was this the Sapan hamlet mosque here? In the 1940-1950's

Sarjoti: It was the 1950s. In 1942 I was just born…

Questioner: Same age as my father.

Sarjoti: Yes. I am 77 years old.

Questioner: Grandpa Sarjoti, why is your body still energetic?

Sarjoti:  I'm getting old… So at the time of the Gestapo I was only 23 years old

Questioner: Still strong Grandpa …

Sarjoti: Still liked to be praised at that time. I used to be young, naughty. Many of the youths from Soro village were PKI, then they played here (in Sapan). They teased the girls here. I hunted them with a sickle or hammer. I was naugty at that time. None of the brave Soro youths, the young children of the PKI dared face me. For example, Jimar and his brother. They didn't dare to go to Tegalrejo village at all. They only dared to come to Gajo village after I moved to Sumatra. I really hit them. Otherwise, when they passed, I intercepted and spit in his face. I was so naughty when I was young. That's why I liked to be praised. I'm not big, but very brave.

The incident in Gajo left each grave with at least 8 people. That was the quota in every village. That quota was caught by the police and then handed over to the Banser headquarters. Banser then distributed the quota (PKI members) to villages, villages which had not met the quota. Example, Titeng village had not yet met the quota, so the village would be sent some.

Questioner: Where were those people from?

Sarjoti: We caught them from everywhere. Some from Siwi, some from Malang. Also escapees from various places.

Questioner: So you didn't known who they are?

Sarjoti: Of course, but some of them I knew. Like that Sukudu.

Questioner: Oh I see…. Then the leader of Sapan hamlet was PKI too?

Sarjoti: Right, kamituwo Sapan. He was killed in the Kamis graveyard along with 16 people. Kamis's graveyard had the largest quota. What I was surprised at that time was that there was only one peculiar pattern. When digging a grave for the PKI corpses, there always were frogs in the excavated ground. Yes, in the grave. When you dug a hole, there were always frogs in it. I wondered why. After the holes were made, they (PKI people) were slaughtered, kicked and dropped into the hole. Then the excavated ground was piled up. In fact, there were no PKI people who dared to fight. The brave ones were only in Raka alone.

 Questioner: As happened in Pace, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Right, but it's actually him hiding and then us looking for him. It's just that he was immune.

Questioner: His body was as supple as a tire, right?

Sarjoti: Yes, I stabbed at him like a tire. In the end I tore his clothes, I pulled his pants until he was naked. Only his underwear remained. 

Question: Did he carry something, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Cleric Dita said he had a purbo kencono so he was immune to weapons. That's why Cleric Dita told us to rub the healing leaves on his body… Unfortunately, I forgot because I was confused why he was still alive. In my mind, just not breathing means death. Then I ran to the back of the house in the cowshed, cut the cow’s rope and put it around his neck to stop his breathing. Dragged him to the west side, then to the east side. Finally he died. His body was whole when he died.

Questioner: Was the corpse buried right there, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: I don't know. We just left it alone after his death. Likewise in Raka. His corpse was still on the roof of the house. To bring it down or not, it's up to them. It's his family's business. We would just go home.

Questioner: Was it done differently in the graveyard, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Right, the hole was covered with soil. But not wrapped. Just thrown with 16 people, at least 8 people, sometimes there were 12 people. Plunged and buried in the ground just like that.

Questioner: 16 people, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Right, there were 16 people in the Kamis grave. That was the most crowded grave. The average was 11, 12, and at least 8 people. It was the quota from the police, handed over to Anshor's leader.

Questioner: But what if you catch them yourself?

Sarjoti: Captives would be carried directly… to the grave as well. But there was another way. For example, at that time in the village of Sapan, we would arrest 5 people. There was a quota of 5 people. In the afternoon, someone said to dig a hole in the graveyard. So, in the evening after Maghrib, it was was ready. It's the same with other graves.

Questioner: Were the people arrested at their homes immediately?

Sarjoti: Right, but we needed a bait first. A message was sent to the people (PKI), 'If you still want to be safe, you have to patrol the hamlet tonight.'

Questioner: So they were not forced to leave the house, were they?

Sarjoti: Right. Once they left the house the people was arrested easily. What I was surprised about is that they were obedient. 'Throw away your weapons!' I snapped. They just threw away their weapons. Then we handcuffed them. When it's like that, they would definitely be slaughtered. Why didn't they fight back? If it was us, definitely we would fight, whether we could win or not.

Questioner: Had they lost their courage?

Sarjoti: Right. I have also seen that when people decide to die, their genital shrinks. There used to be a man called Mani who was working in a grandpa's fruit garden in Degan hamlet. We caught this Mani as part of the quota of 16. In my mind, surely this guy would die. I reached into his pants, but it turns out his penis was still hanging. He screamed in fear, 'Oh no…no… '.

Questioner: Was he with PKI?

Sarjoti: Yes, PKI. Rarely was the target wrong. We already had all the data.

Questioner: Did you know, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Yes, I already knew. The environment was Muslim, the Ansor. You already knew that this was the PKI... this was the top leadar, this was the branch leader.

Questioner: What jobs did most of their supporters do, farmers or party employees?

Sarjoti: Mixed. Some were both farmers and party employees too. In South Blitar, the majority was the farmers.

Questioner: In Seru village, were there party employees?

Sarjoti: There were a lot of employees. The village head and his wife were involved in PKI. His wife was the head of the Gerwani … At that time only children remained in the house at night, with the elderly, and the women. The men had to be outside, ready on guard.


Questioner: How did you travel to Siwi and to Raka from Pace at night, Grandpa?

Sarjoti: Rode a bicycle.

Questioner: Just bicycle?

Sarjoti: Right, what else could we ride if not a bicycle?

Questioner: Had the road been paved?

Sarjoti: Not yet. The road was still macadam (a stone-paved road before it is asphalted). The streets were full of stones at that time. 


Interviewer: Imam Muhtarom

Interviewee: Sarjoti

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Transcript Notes


  1. How does Sarjoti’s recollections destabilize notions of a binary clash between Communism and anti-Communist governments in Cold War Indonesia?

  2. To what extent did political ideology drive the actions of youth like Sarjoti during the Cold War in Indonesia?

  3. What was the role/function of traditional values and culture in Indonesia’s Cold War conflict?

  4. Consider the various forces (social, economic, cultural, religious etc) that shaped the conflict and the lived experience of the Cold War in Indonesia. In particular, consider how these different dimensions intersected to create unique and often dangerous outcomes for the civilian public.

  5. Did Indonesia truly experience a Cold War, given Sarjoti’s testimony? Would it be more accurate to characterize it as a local conflict? Why or why not?