NU, retired army officers reject apology for victims of 1965 killings

Source – August 15, 2012
Banners read 'PKI killers of Islamic Community, Reject the PKI' (Nusantara News)
Banners read 'PKI killers of Islamic Community, Reject the PKI' (Nusantara News)

Aditya Revianur, Jakarta – The Nahdlatul Ulama’s Central Board (PBNU) with the support of retired army officers and mass organisations is strongly opposed any form of apology by the government or the Indonesian president for the 1965-1966 tragedy.

The reason for this is that the East and Central Java branches of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU, the largest Islamic mass organisation in Indonesia) have sent a letter to the PBNU strongly rejecting an apology to the victims of the 1965 tragedy.

“We (PBNU) reject an apology by SBY [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] to the victims of the 1965 tragedy. We believe that what needs to be promoted is reconciliation, not an apology”, said PBNU Deputy Secretary General As’ad Said Ali at the declaration of “Be on Alert for the Revival of the PKI” (Indonesian Communist Party) at the PBNU’s headquarters in Salemba, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday August 15.

Said expressed the view that as a nation it is better if the humanitarian tragedy of the 1965 affair be forgotten. Former President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, he continued, has already provide space for the restoration of the rights of the descents of PKI members so an apology by the government to the victims of the 1965-1966 tragedy is unnecessary.

Aside from this, according to Ali, an ad hoc count would only add to problems because the issues involved in the 1965-1966 tragedy smack of politics rather than humanitarian concerns. “NU is not pushing for an [ad hoc] court because [we] don’t wish to dig up old issues. Our people, Islamic teachers were killed by the PKI, so we are not making accusations”, he added.

Ali revealed that the NU has overlooked the 1965 tragedy as a form of its great spirit. The NU will not dig up the issue of the killings by the PKI in 1948 in Madiun because it is better for forgive and forget in order to develop a better national character in the future.

“Our position is a form of our great spirit because we have a share in this republic. We founded this republic. If an apology is made then the nation will continue to fight”, he asserted.

A similar view was expressed by Suryadi, the chairperson of the Retired Army Generals Association (PPAD), who explained that in recommending that the president apologise to the victims of 1965, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) is fanning the flames of a new hostility in Indonesian society.

The PPAD, continued Suryadi, opposes Komnas HAM’s position. It is improper for Komnas HAM to push the government to apologies to the victims of 1965 because the party that was responsible was the PKI. “The PKI were the perpetrators of the coup. There’s already plenty of evidence. It is improper for the government to apologise. Komnas HAM is not acting justly”, he said.


On the night of September 30, 1965 a group of middle-ranking military officers 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 a 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 so-called Madiun revolt in 1948, which is also blamed on the PKI, was triggered by an attempt by Vice President Hatta in alliance with right-wing military officers to disband the PKI and left-wing military units.

[PBNU Tolak Permintaan Maaf kepada Korban Tragedi 65 – – Rabu, 15 Agustus 2012. Translated by James Balowski.]