[WATCH] The Genocide of Indonesian Muslims | MGAP Ep. 1

During World War II, Japanese Buddhists seized control of Indonesia for three years, killing millions of Indonesian Muslims.

The Japanese forced hundreds of thousands of Indonesians to work as slave laborers on military and economic projects, like constructing the infamous Burma railway. The laborers were brutally worked without adequate food and healthcare, such that many of them died. The Japanese likewise forced countless Indonesian women into prostitution. They also looted the country’s resources, thereby causing mass famine and disease.

The United Nations has estimated that Japanese policies resulted in 300,000 deaths among Indonesian slave laborers. More generally, Japanese policies resulted in roughly four million deaths throughout the country. Well over three million of these deaths were Muslims. Unfortunately, this Japanese genocide of Muslims has not received much attention partly due to complex political factors. Indonesian nationalists viewed the Japanese as allies against Dutch colonial powers they were trying to expel. This allyship of convenience provided cover for Japan’s crimes against poor Indonesian Muslims.

Buddhism celebrates the virtue of ahimsa or non-violence. Nevertheless, Buddhists have always recognized that law and warfare are necessary for any society. This situation is resolved by having monks practice ahimsa, while permitting the government to impose laws, and wage wars to protect Buddhism, and to advance the ethnic and racial interests of the Buddhist population.

Hence, Buddhism usually goes hand in hand with violent ethnonationalism. Muslims in Sri Lanka are violently persecuted in the name of Buddhism and Sinhalese ethnic nationalism. Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are violently persecuted in the name of Buddhism and Burmese nationalism. Similarly millions of Muslims were killed by Japanese who endorsed a mixture of Buddhism, Shintoism, and Japanese nationalism. Mixtures of Buddhism and violent ethnonationalism have been endorsed by the most influential modern Buddhist religious authorities, such as Anagarika Dharmapala and D.T. Suzuki.

Why is it that we only hear about violence inflicted *by( Muslims, but not by Buddhists? Buddhist authorities prescribe non-violence for monks, but they legitimate a violent mixture of Buddhism and ethnonationalism for the general population. The notion of a peaceful Buddhism derives from misleading religious apologetics, and functions to obscure the mass forms of violence Buddhists have long used, and continue to use, against Muslims.

Editor’s Note

Did you know about this genocide of our brothers and sisters? I certainly didn’t. Why not? Why aren’t these historical facts well known? We MUST bring these crimes to light.

The Muslim Genocide Awareness Project (MGAP) is dedicated to bringing to light the atrocities that have been inflicted upon Muslims in the modern period. The world has forgotten many of these genocides. It is partly because of this ignorance that powerful entities can continue to portray Muslims as violent and bloodthirsty to justify their oppression, when, in actuality, Muslims have been the primary victims of the worst crimes in modern times. MGAP uses only peer-reviewed academic sources. All claims can be verified in the published academic literature.

Please help us bring more light to the atrocities committed against Muslims: https://muslimskeptic.com/contribute/


J. Kevin Baird, “War Crimes in Japan-Occupied Indonesia: Unraveling the Persecution of Achmad Mochtar” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Volume 14; Issue 1; Number 4 (2016)

John Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (Pantheon 1986), esp.p.296.

M.C. Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia since c.1200 Third Edition (Palgrave Macmillan 2001), esp. p.254-255.

Poeze HA, The Road to Hell: The Construction of Railway Line in West Java During the Japanese Occupation, in: Asian Labor in the Wartime Japanese Empire, ed. Kratoska PH, p.163. Singapore National University Press. 2009.

Sato S, Romusha in The Encyclopedia of Indonesia in the Pacific War (Post P, Frederick WH, Heidebrink I, Sato S, eds.) pp. 197-210. Brill, Leiden. 2010.

Kratoska P. ed. 2005. Asian Labor in the Wartime Japanese Empire: Unknown Histories. New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Hovinga H. 2005. End of a Forgotten Drama: The Reception and Repatriation of Romusha After the Japanese Capitulation. In: Kratoska P., ed. 2005 Asian Labor in the Wartime Japanese Empire: Unknown Histories. New York: M.E. Sharpe, pp. 213–34.

Romusha in The Encyclopedia of Indonesia in the Pacific War (Post P, Frederick WH, Heidebrink I, Sato S, eds.) pp. 197-210. Brill, Leiden. 2010.

Source: Sukarno, an autobiography as told to Cindy Adams By Cindy Adams.

The Long and Strange History of Buddhist Violence (Modern Notion, 9-8-14).

Sharf, Robert H. (August 1993), “The Zen of Japanese Nationalism”, History of Religions 33 (1): 1–43, doi:10.1086/463354.

Sharf, Robert H. (1995), Whose Zen? Zen Nationalism Revisited.

Gier, Nicholas. pp. 193. The Origins of Religious Violence: An Asian Perspective. Lexington Books. 2014.

Masao Abe, Steven Heine. pp. 223. Zen and Comparative Studies: Part Two of a Two-Volume Sequel to “Zen and Western Thought. University of Hawaii Press. 1997.

Suzuki. xvii. Selected Works of D.T. Suzuki, Volume I: Zen, Volume 1. University of California Press. 2014.

McRae, John (2003), Seeing Through Zen. Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism, The University Press Group Ltd.

McMahan, David (2008), The Making of Buddhist Modernism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tweed, Thomas A. (2005), “American Occultism and Japanese Buddhism. Albert J. Edmunds, D. T. Suzuki, and Translocative History” (PDF), Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 32 (2): 249–281.

Dhoring Tenzin Paljor, Autobiography, cited in Curren, Buddha’s Not Smiling, 8.
Stephen Bachelor, “Letting Daylight into Magic: The Life and Times of Dorje Shugden,” Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, 7, Spring 1998.

Curren, Buddha’s Not Smiling, 50.

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I am muslim from Indonesia. Sadly what you write is true. We call slavery work in Japanese imperialism as “kerja rodi”. My grandmother said in that era, she wear clothes made from Gunny sack beacuse Japan take everything from Indonesian. Until now (2022), we Indonesian use term “kerja rodi” if someone force us to work but not paid or little wage. Example:

A: “dam*, my boss tell me to work extra time and don’t get overtime pay”
B: “Lololol so you do kerja rodi”!