The May 21 States New Service report that appeared in The Post belatedly drew attention to the role U.S. officials played in the massacres that accompanied President Suharto's rise to power in Indonesia in 1965.
However outraged one may be to read of U.S. Embassy staff supplying lists and ticking off names as reports were received that named individuals had been dealt with, it is hardly a surprise. The U.S. administration of the time made no secret of its relief that the Indonesian Communist Party, and with it numerous left-wing organizations, had been disposed of, even at the cost of so many lives.
In his June 2 letter to The Post, former Foreign Service officer Robert J. Martens tried to justify his decision to pass on lists of names to the Indonesian military, while alleging that other embassy staff members were blameless in the affair. But Mr. Martens's efforts to protect the embassy won't wash.
A recently published study of the cable traffic between the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and the State Department during October of 1965 (Gabriel Kolko, "Confronting the Third World: U.S. Foreign Policy 1945-1980") provides far more convincing proof of the embassy's complicity than Mr. Martens's relatively piffling list of 5,000 people. (After all, according to the most conservative estimate, 250,000 people were killed.)
It is on record, for instance, that on Oct. 28, 1965, Ambassador Marshall Green cabled Secretary of State Dean Rusk that, despite President Sukarno's efforts to stop the slaughter, the "cleanup" of the PKI would go on. The secretary of State replied the next day that this "campaign against PKI" must continue, because "the military are only force capable of creating order in Indonesia." A few weeks later, Indonesian generals approached the United States for equipment "to arm Moslem and nationalist youths for use in central Java against the PKI." Washington responded by supplying covert aid, dispatched as "medicines."
The States New Service article was important in that it raised in a public forum the U.S. role in the tragedy that befell Indonesia in 1965. It also made plain that the massacres in Indonesia were part of a deliberate policy initiated and implemented on the instructions of Maj. Gen. (now President) Suharto. Once the world begins to comprehend the enormity of that crime, maybe President Suharto will at last be called to account.
Certainly, those of us who have worked for years to expose the true nature of the Jakarta regime would like to see U.S. officials called to account. But they are now retired, while Mr. Suharto is still president of Indonesia. It is far more important that he not be allowed, like Joseph Stalin, to pass into history before the extent of his crimes is acknowledged. CARMEL BUDIARDJO Organizing Secretary, The Indonesia Human Rights Campaign Thornton Heath, United Kingdom