With an Indonesian ccronym (Penembakan Mysterius) the mysterious killings were  called: Petrus killings.

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Brief description:

Without undergoing a trial, three to ten thousand criminals were put to death. Their bodies were then placed in public places which terrorized an unaware populace.The executions were part of a government effort to reduce crime and the actual death toll or extent of the killings remains a mystery today.

Time: 1983-1985

Location: all over Indonesia

Rights violated:

  • right to life
  • right to a fair trial


  • 3,000 to 10,000 alleged petty criminals

Chain of events:

Allegedly responsible:

[President] Suharto himself would not acknowledge the killings and the fact that they were carried out by the military, until his biography, Pikiran, Ucapan, dan Tindakan Saya (My Thoughts, Words, and Deeds) was published in 1988. In the book, Suharto explains: "The incidents were not mysterious. The real problem was that the incidents were preceded by public fears." Because some people had exceeded norms in society, "we had to initiate some treatment, some stern action", Suharto claimed. "What kind of action? Well, we had to resort to force. But it was not just execution by shootings. No! Those who resisted had to be shot. They were gunned down because they fought back." (See: Colombijn, Freek (Spring 2002). "Explaining the Violent Solution in Indonesia" (PDF, not available on the Internet). The Brown Journal of World Affairs.


See also: "The Petrus Murder Squads", posted by Joseph Daves on Nov 19, 2014 on The Indonesian Army website.