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In May 1998 President Suharto resigned, ending three decades in power in Indonesia and what was known as the New Order. As an army general, he had intervened against a coup attempt in 1965 that ended with the sidelining of President Sukarno and months of massacres all over the archipelago as Suharto consolidated his grip.

More than half a million were killed, bludgeoned with hoes and slashed with sickles; rivers and beaches were thick with dumped bodies and blood, even in idyllic Bali. Islamic youth groups, with military support, targeted alleged communists and ethnic Chinese. It was a time of reprisals and score-settling, but during the Suharto era this bloodletting, and the imprisonment of a million suspected communists, were taboo subjects.

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