July 27 trial: military and intelligence involvement revealed

Kompas – October 22, 2003
Crowds clash with police following July 27 attack on PDI headquarters (berdikarionline)
Crowds clash with police following July 27 attack on PDI headquarters (berdikarionline)

Jakarta – The involvement of the Armed Forces Intelligence Body (Badan Intelijen ABRI, BIA) and ABRI’s Social and Political Unit (Sospol ABRI) in the takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters on Jalan Diponegoro in Central Jakarta on July 27 19961, was revealed in a Central Jakarta State Court hearing on Tuesday October 21.

According to Alex Widya Siregar, who at the time was coordinating PDI headquarters takeover, from the beginning the plan was always discussed with BIA and Sospol ABRI. Furthermore, in a meeting on July 19, 1996, ABRI’s Social and Political Affairs Office, which at that time was headed by TNI Major General Suwarno Adiwijoyo, agreed to assist with the plan and also promised it would assist with funding issues in the panned takeover.

Siregar’s testimony was read out alternately by public prosecutors M. Manik and Robert Tacoy. The prosecution also read out a testimony by PDI secretary general Buttu R. Hutapea2, R.O. Tambunan (at the time a supporter of Megawati’s PDI) and Tubagus Ahmad (one of the attackers). The four people were not able to be presented by the prosecution because the whereabouts of the four are unknown. In a hearing which will be heard next week on Tuesday October 28, six other witnesses will be presented.

According to Siregar, the plan to takeover the PDI headquarters began at a meeting which was held on July 18, 1996, at the official residence of PDI General Chairperson Suryadi. At the meeting, Suryadi said that there was a suit being filed by Megawati Sukarnoputri and her supports at the PDI headquarters by people who did not agree with the outcome of the PDI congress in Medan. Siregar who was present at the meeting, said why didn’t the Central Leadership Board (DPP) of the PDI takeover the headquarters. He also said why didn’t the military just carry out the takeover because it was the military which had split the PDI. Panaingan’s question was answered by Fatimah Ahmad. Fatimah asked at that time why Alex Widya was present at the meeting, saying just leave it up to Alex to take over the PDI headquarters. From that time, Siregar was given a mandate to retake the PDI headquarters.

In accordance with the mandate, Alex organised a plan and strategy composing a commander, deputy commander, three attack groups (platoons 1, 2 and 3) and a force of 200 people. The plan was then discussed with Marine Colonel Rusli from BIA. However the plan was rejected because it was too complex. Alex then improved it to make the plan simpler. The second plan was agreed to by Rusli. However it never got a response. Finally, on July 17, Alex again met with Rusli at the BIA offices in Kalibata (South Jakarta) and informed him that he had been given a mandate [to organised the takeover]. Rusli’s answer was that the head of BIA, Syamsir Siregar, had not responded although Alex’s plan was in Colonel Syamsiar’s hands.

Following this, Alex felt that the plan would encounter obstacles with a demonstration which was to be held by the Jakarta PDI leadership board members Lukman Mokoginta and Sahala Sinaga who planned to go to the People’s Representaitve Assembly and the offices of the Jakarta daily Kompas. Alex asked Rusli to asked the two board members to delay their plans. The meeting occurred in Rusli’s office at BIA.

On July 19, Alex met with Adiwijoyo at Jalan Salemba Raya. There he met with Lukman and Sahala. In the meeting, Suwarno said that the demonstrations would make the situation unstable. “After that I handed over a folder containing my plan on the takeover of the PDI headquarters. Suwarno said that the number of people which should be brought must three times as many as the opposition forces [Megawati’s supporters occupying the headquarters] in order to avoid a physical clash”, said Alex in the interrogation report which was read by the prosecution.

Alex explained that he wanted to bring people from Baladika and Soksi3. However that plan was not approved by Suwarno on the grounds that up until now, the rejection of Megawati had occurred because Megawati had used other people, such as the People’s Democratic Party. Because of this Alex was forbidden to use other people. At this meeting, Alex asked if the plan which he had made could be signed by Sospol ABRI. Suwarno said that that would be agreed to if he could speak with Suryadi and Fatimah Ahmad. That afternoon, Alex invited Suryadi and Fatimah Ahmad to see Suwarno.

At the meeting, Suwarno asked if Suryadi already knew about Alex’s plan. Suryadi answered that Alex had already been given a mandate at a DPP PDI meeting and that according to Alex’s explanation, the funds would come from ABRI headquarters. Suwarno agreed and would later speak with ABRI’s Social and Political Affairs Office.

However as things developed, the plan and the masses who Alex had gathered were not used. On July 22, 1996 at 9am, Alex returned to BIA to meet with Brigadier General Zacky Anwar4. However at that time he was only able to meet with Syamsiar who told Alex that the plan made it seem like Alex was not serious and was only wasting money. Surprised by the statement, Alex asked who had informed him of this. Syamsiar’s answer was that he didn’t know but Anwar had received a telephone call from Fatimah Achmad. When he tried to meet Anwar, Alex instead ended up metting with Syamsir Siregar who asked if Alex was ready to take over the PDI headquarters, to which Alex explicitly answered he was.

Alex stated that he was disappointed because the plan and the masses which had already been gathered were not to be used because in reality BIA’s promises were empty. Because he was disappointed, Alex took a break away from the city between July 23 and July 26. On July 27 at 2.30am, Alex received a phone cal from Syamsir who asked if the masses wearing PDI T-shirts at Jalan Diponegoro were the masses which he had mobilised. Alex answered that he would check with other PDI board members however all of their phones were dead. A number of them, including Ismunandar and Abdulgani were overseas.

Finally, Alex contacted Suryadi who answered that he could not come because he was sick. He would order Buttu Hutapea to go. At around 4am, Alex and Yahya Theo (PDI board member) met with Buttu Hutapea’s group at the Menteng police office. They then went together to the PDI headquarters. On arriving at the location, Buttu Hutapea was greeted by a mass of people wearing red T-shirts with writing supporting the Medan congress. Hutapea was lifted up by Colonel Haryanto who was wearing one of the red T-shirts and carried inside the PDI headquarters and asked to give a speech. Then the key to the office was handed over to the head of the Menteng police, Police Lieutenant Colonel Abubakar.

Alex related that after the PDI headquarters, he along with Hutapea went to Jalan Denpasar IV in Kuningan where Suryadi and all of the leadership were.

In Buttu Hutapea’s testimony, he said absolutely, he had not been informed by the leadership about the existence of a plan to takeover the PDI headquarters. At that time he was still in Medan because he was a member of the North Sumatra People’s Representative Assembly. He only just know there was a plan when he was in Jakarta on July 26. At that time he was phoned by Suryadi and asked to accept the hand over of the PDI headquarters key. (VIN)


1. Following Megawati Sukarnoputri’s popular election as chairperson of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) in 1996, the Suharto regime, who feared a PDI lead Megawati (who could draw upon the tremendous popularity of her father Sukarno, the founding president of Indonesia) might threaten the state party Golkar’s dominance in the upcoming 1997 elections, sponsored a rebel PDI congress in Medan, North Sumatra, and succeeded in replacing her with their own pro-regime candidate, Suryadi. Following weeks of protests and the occupation of party’s headquarters in Central Jakarta by pro-Megawati PDI supporters, on July 27 paid thugs backed by the military attacked and destroyed the PDI offices resulting in the death of as many as 50 people. Popular outrage at the attack sparked several days of mass rioting and violent clashes with police which was blamed on the People’s Democratic Party, who’s members were hunted down and arrested as the masterminds behind the riots.

2. Fatimah Achmad and Buttu Hutapea, two of the main leaders of the rival PDI faction which ousted Megawati.

3. Baladika Karya is one of several quasi-military mass organisation affiliated to former President Suharto’s state ruling party Golkar. Others include Pancasila Youth, Panca Marga Youth and the Siliwangin Youth Wing. Baladi Karya was originally founded in 1963 by Soksi, one of three major organisations which helped establish Golkar (the other two being Golkar’s cooperative organisation Kosgoro and the Musyawarah Kerja Gotong Royong Party) to help the military eliminate the Indonesian Communist Party.

4. Zacky Anwar Makarim, a former intelligence chief and special forces officer with a long experience in East Timor who has been implicated attempting to subvert the 1999 referendum and organising and supporting the militia rampage which followed the ballot.

[Translated by James Balowski.]