The story of "post-colonial" Indonesia begins on August 17, 1945, when Sukarno, its first president, declared Indonesia an independent and free nation. The Dutch colonization of Indonesia began in 1602 with the establishment of the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch controlled all aspects of Indonesian life and its great wealth of natural resources, including its vast quantities of oil and natural gas until the Japanese military invaded in 1942.
Sukarno became newly independent Indonesia's first president in 1945. Much of Sukarno's popularity came from his strong opposition to colonialism and the exploitation of people and resources in poor and exploited lands. Ten years after becoming president of Indonesia, he held a conference April 18-24 of 1955 at Bandung in order to encourage and map out strategies for independent economic and social development free from the control or dictates of any European country, the U.S., or the USSR. Attendees of the first Bandung Conference included Burma, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, Indonesia, Pakistan. It was also attended by 18 other countries from Asia--Afghanistan, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Nepal, Peoples' Republic of China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Vietnam, Syria, Thailand, Turkey and Yemen. From Africa there was Egypt, Ethiopia, Gold Coast (now Ghana), Liberia, Libya, and Sudan.
The Bandung Conference and the concept and creation of the non-aligned movement (not aligned with or under the control of Europe, the U.S., or USSR's interests or influence) was seen as a threat, particularly to the U.S. The very concept presented a grave threat to the hegemonic interests of the U.S. Within three years of the conference many Indonesians would pay with their lives for the audacity of wanting to be free and attempting to control their own destinies and resources. Indonesia's President Sukarno did seem to fully believe in and hold to the concept of non-alignment, wanting true independence, favoring neither Moscow nor Washington. Indonesia did have a large communist party, the PKI, and this would be a factor in U.S. actions to come. Sukarno's determination to maintain control over Indonesian oil and other natural resources put him on a collision course with the U.S. Even though Sukarno had no affiliation with the PKI, President Eisenhower labeled Sukarno a communist and his administration and the CIA went to work spreading misinformation. In 1957 and 1958 the U.S. began to carry out attacks on the civilian population. In 1958 the U.S. began to bomb Indonesian ships and airports in eastern Indonesia. On May 18, 1958, a B-26 piloted by Allen L. Pope, after bombing a navel vessel at the port city of Ambon, flew over the city, bombing a church and the central market, killing over 700 civilians.
Pope was shot down and imprisoned until February of 1962 when then U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy visited Indonesia. Pope was released as a goodwill gesture after Kennedy had spoken with Sukarno.
The Suharto [note the subtle spelling difference] coup d'etat of September 30, 1965, and its subsequent mass killings began with a group of officers loyal to Suharto began abducting and killing six generals loyal to Sukarno. Suharto then went immediately to spread the fabrication that the six were killed by the PKI and military officers loyal to the PKI. In John Roosa's excellent book on this subject, "Pretext For Mass Murder", he writes: "It has been difficult to believe that a political party, consisting entirely of civilians, could command a military operation. How could civilians order military personnel to carry out their bidding?" Numbers of those killed vary widely from 250,000 to a million Indonesian civilians. The main purpose for this crime was to destroy the Indonesian left and to eliminate Sukarno with his non-aligned movement.