1965 exiles complain of continuing stigma, want anti-communist decree revoked

Kompas.com – August 30, 2023
Mahfud MD shaking hands with Sri Budiarti during meeting in Amsterdam – August 27, 2023 (Kompas)

Syakirun Niam, Jakarta – A 1965 exile who resides in Amsterdam, Holland, Sri Budiarti or Ning, has related her experience of being berated and accused of being a member of the now-defunct Indonesian Women's Movement (Gerwani).

Budiarti related this experience to Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD and Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly. Budiarti and around 64 other 1965 exiles gathered for a meeting with Mahfud and Laoly in Amsterdam on Sunday August 27.

Budiarti said that since 1963 to this day, she has remained a member of the Indonesian Students Association (PPI) in Aachen, Germany, and has indeed become a German citizen.

"In Aachen I suffered what is called stigma, what is called hatred", said Budiarti during the meeting. She related how she was berated with the words Gerwani when she was having an argument with a neighbour.

"If I did something wrong, they would say 'Gerwani scum'. In 2015 I was still abused by 'this auntie scum is Gerwani' just because I had different ideas", said Budiarti.

Mahfud, Laoly and their entourage are meeting with the 1965 exiles in Europe to hold a dialogue in order to restore their constitutional rights.

The majority of exiles are former State Funded Students (Mahid) who were sent as envoys by the administration of Indonesia's founding president Sukarno but were prohibited from returning home by former President Suharto.

The meetings are being held by Mahfud as part of efforts to restore the rights of victims of past gross human rights violations on the directions of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Stigmatised as PKI members

Meanwhile, the chairperson of Watch 65, an association that focuses on 1965 exiles, Ratna Saptari, said that the exiles have been stigmatised as members of the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). They were labeled as communist who betrayed their country.

Saptari is still asking how this stigma can be removed while the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly Decree (TAP MPRS) Number XXV/1966 on the dissolution of the PKI and its declaration as a banned organisation throughout the Republic of Indonesia has still not been revoked.

According to Saptari, the problems that arises a consequence of the TAP MPRS are very important so initial measures need to be taken to address this decree.

"This stigma will continue to be experienced and suffered, which in the end criminalises the decedents of many exiles who are also still in the homeland and also those who are here", she said.

Legal process must be resolved

Another 1965 exile, Sungkono, took the opportunity to say he also hopes that the government will resolve the gross human rights violations that occurred in 1965 through legal channels.

Sungkono said he appreciates Widodo's policy of acting in a humane way towards the exiles through a non-judicial schema. According to Sungkono, Widodo also stated that the possibility was still open of resolving the 1965 cases through judicial mechanisms.

"And my demand is that the perpetrators and humanitarian criminals must be dragged [into the open] before all of the Indonesian people's movements and the truth revealed", said Sungkono.

Aside from this, Sungkono also questioned Widodo's reasons as the head of state for not yet apologising to the victims of the 1965 affair. Yet the head of state has already acknowledged that the incident was a gross human rights violation.

"I feel that Pak [Mr] Jokowi's statement is still incomplete. If he has already acknowledge such a great sin, why was it without an apology, we regret this", he said.

Mahfud meanwhile revealed that these actions are the government's attempt to fulfill the rights of the 1965 exiles.

The policy is the implementation of Widodo's order to resolve past abuses through non-judicial means. Nevertheless, the policy will not negate a judicial resolution.

"This is just a precursor so it doesn't take a long time, the victims are all gone, we, the state haven't decided anything yet, because it's stuck in the DPR [House of Representatives], in the courts, and so on", said Mahfud.

During a meeting in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on the following day, Mahfud told exiles that they have never committed any wrongs whatsoever against the country.

Mahfud said that the Indonesian government has declared that the exiles have not carried out any activities against the state and are innocent of any crimes.

"You are citizens. You are lovers of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia and you have never been guilty [of any crimes] against this country (Indonesia)", said Mahfud in Prague.

"Well, right, there has already been a statement from the government (that the 1965 exiles are innocent)", he reiterated.


On the night of September 30, 1965 a group of middle-ranking military officers known as the 30 September Movement (G30S) kidnapped six generals they accused of organising a coup against Indonesia's leftist President Sukarno. For reasons that remain unclear, the six were killed and their bodies dumped in a well in South Jakarta. By blaming the incident on the PKI, this provided the pretext for sections of the military, led by then Major General Suharto, to mount a bloody counter-revolution in which as many as 1 million communists and left wing sympathisers were killed. Hundreds of thousands of others were imprisoned for years without trial. The official narrative that the PKI was behind the coup has long been debunked by independent historians as a cover for the military and Suharto to stage its own ouster of Sukarno and destroy the PKI.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Cerita Korban Eksil 1965, Dimaki "Tante Gerwani" oleh Tetangga di Jerman gara-gara Beda Pendapat".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2023/08/30/05330011/cerita-korban-eksil-1965-dimaki-tante-gerwani-oleh-tetangga-di-jerman-gara