Defense minister can’t comment on US documents because he was ‘still a kid’ back in 1965

CNN Indonesia – October 18, 2017
Ryacudu responds to release of US documents - October 18, 2017 (CNN)
Ryacudu responds to release of US documents - October 18, 2017 (CNN)

Joko Panji Sasongko, Jakarta – Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu says he will meet with the US Secretary of State to request an explanation about the publication of secret documents related to the 1965 affair in Indonesia.

The documents show that the US government knew about efforts by the TNI AD (Indonesian army) to destroy the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and overthrow then President Sukarno.

Ryacudu said that the meeting with the US Secretary of State will take place on October 25 in the Philippines. During the meeting he hops that he will be able enquire in detail about the issue.

“I will be meeting with the Secretary of State later. I will meet with the American Secretary of State on the 25th (of October)”, said Ryacudu at the House of Representatives (DPR) building in Jakarta on Wednesday October 17.

Ryacudu claims that he does not know about the documents in any detail. The former army chief of staff equivocated that he was still a kid when the 1965 affair took place. He also said he doesn’t understand why the documents, which are classified as secret, were in the hands of the US government.

“I don’t know, I was still a kid back then. Later in the Philippines I’ll be meeting with him (the US Secretary of State). I will ask about it. He may not know either, he may have still been a kid too”, he said.

Ryacudu is sure that the publication of the documents will not have an influence on the political situation in Indonesia, particularly in terms of responding to the 1965 tragedy.

“I say no (it won’t have an influence). [But] it depends on us whether we want to stir things up or not. If we don’t want to, well we won’t, there’s no need. Sometimes we ourselves often make an issue out of nothing”, he said.

TNI chief General Gatot Nurmantyo meanwhile says that he will try to read the documents soon. Right now he is reluctant to comment on the documents that say the TNI AD was planning to overthrow President Sukarno and destroy the PKI.

“Let me read them first. I haven’t read them yet. I don’t know about it yet, if I haven’t read them how can I comment”, said Nurmantyo at the DPR building.

Nurmantyo said however that every country has its own policies on the release of secret documents it holds. In the case of Indonesia, he said, secret documents are held by the State Intelligence Agency (BIN). “I don’t know yet, I’ll ask the State Intelligence Agency”, said Nurmantyo.

The army general was reluctant to comment on the impact the publication of the documents will have. “I haven’t read them so how can I comment. You can’t say something’s good or bad if you don’t know yet”, said Nurmantyo.

Earlier, the US government released declassified documents citing plans by the TNI AD to destroy the PKI and overthrow Sukarno. The 39 documents comprise some 30,000 pages.

The documents were published by the non-profit National Security Archive (NSA), the National Declassification Center (NDC) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and posted on the website on October 17.

The documents, which are in the form of daily records between 1964 and 1968 cite, among other things, efforts by the AD to push Sukarno aside and destroy the left in Indonesia, executions of the PKI leadership and the involvement of US officials in supporting the AD. (pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Ryamizard Bereaksi soal Dokumen Penggulingan Sukarno dan PKI.]