Posts made in June, 2016

Aftermath of the July 27 Affair: A Neo-Communist Witch Hunt

Posted by on Jun 13, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Aftermath of the July 27 Affair: A Neo-Communist Witch Hunt

Military and government officials portrayed “the July 27 Affair” as the latest in a series of neo-communist threats to national stability and unity. Armed Forces Intelligence Agency (BIA) Internal Affairs Director Brigadier General Zacky Anwar Makarim had been involved with Megawati’s election as Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) chair two-and-one-half years earlier. Now he supervised the round-up of more than 200 Megawati supporters and pro-democracy activists, some who were later unaccounted for and presumed dead. After a meeting with the President on July 29, 1996, Armed Forces (ABRI) Commander Feisal Tanjung and National Police Chief Dibyo Widodo charged the illegal People’s Democratic Party (Partai Rakyat Demokratis, PRD) had engineered the riots. It was a close replay of government actions to scapegoat the banned Indonesian Socialist Party (PSI) and Masjumi following the January 1974 Malari riots. A group of leftist students led by Budiman Sudjatmiko (photo inset) had established the PRD in May 1994 as a nongovernmental group involved primarily in labor organization. The small socialist fringe group had gone public with its manifesto as part of the Free Speech Forum on July 22, just four days before the government operation. [1] Kasospol Syarwan Hamid (a mastermind of the military operation) arrogantly declared, “I can tell they are communists simply from the way they sing.” [2] The campaign to crush Megawati and her supporters was framed in the context of a government struggle against neo-communist troublemakers. Officials blamed the PRD for a range of anti-government demonstrations and disturbances across the country in the months leading up the riots. They suggested the PRD had sinisterly infiltrated the PDI and used it as a compliant vehicle for its own radical purposes – and made unsubstantiated claims that one-quarter of PRD members were the children of former Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members, along with allegations the party had received foreign funding and encouragement from the Australian Labor Party and Amnesty International. Even though the PRD was small and lacked a political base, the government labeled it “the new PKI” and warned the group’s underground network was planning to provoke further unrest. The regime linked the PRD to Catholic “liberation theology” and, by innuendo, to the marginally Catholic former Armed Forces Commander Benny Moerdani and his supporters. Feisal Tanjung suggested a “rainbow alliance” of pro-democracy activists, including radical groups like the PRD, and certain retired officers were working together to undermine Pancasila and 1945 Constitution. [3] The government campaign against the PDI also exploited the Islamic community. Lieutenant General Syarwan Hamid and other regimist officers had started lobbying Muslim groups well before the July 27 assault. A week before the operation, he met with sixty-one pro-government youth organizations, the majority Islamic groups, condemning the free speech forum and warning about the danger from malicious organizations without form (Organisasi Tanpa Bentuk, OTB). Again on July 30, following the assault and riots, Syarwan met Islamic youth groups, including the Nahdlatul Ulama Pemuda Ansor and Pemuda Tarbiyah (a national Islamic education youth movement). They condemned the PRD and proclaimed their readiness to combat latent communism. Regimist Muslims, Indonesian Islamic Proselytizing Council (Dewan Dakwah Islam Indonesia, DDII) leader Husein...

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