Prabowo urges schools to teach the ‘true history’ of 1965 communist coup

CNN Indonesia – November 23, 2019
Tri Legionosuko (far left) reading out Prabowo’s greetings – November 23, 2019 (Detik)
Tri Legionosuko (far left) reading out Prabowo’s greetings – November 23, 2019 (Detik)

Jakarta – Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has asked teachers to be diligent in relating the history of the rebellion and evil of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) to students at school. Because, he suspects that communist ideas still exist and this is something to be on guard against, even though the country which is the source of these ideas has already collapsed.

Prabowo’s statement was conveyed by Defense University Rector Lieutenant General Tri Legionosuko in reading out a speech by Prabowo who was unable to attend a book dissertation titled The PKI, the Mastermind and Perpetrator of G30S/65 at the National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas) building in Jakarta on Saturday November 23.

“I hope that history teachers in schools convey a history of the rebellion and evil of the PKI which is true to students”, said Legionosuko reading out Prabowo’s speech.

According to Prabowo, this needs to be done by school teachers so students understand about the PKI’s actions and the impact of the movement on Indonesia – including the coup d’etat which the party launched to overthrow then President Sukarno.

Moreover, at the time the PKI is also suspected of aiming to change the national ideology from the state ideology of Pancasila to one of communism.

“Communism has recorded a black page in the historical journey of the Indonesian nation. That the PKI consistently sought ways and opportunities to carry out a coup d’etat in Indonesia”, he said.

Prabowo then asked the public in general to continue to be on guard against communist teachings which allegedly still exist in Indonesia to this day. Even though the Soviet Union, as the source of communist ideas no longer exists.

“Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union as the source of communist [ideas], the end of the Cold War, the emergence of the globalisation era, it doesn’t mean that communist ideas have also collapsed”, he said.

“It is reasonable to suspect that the communist ideology and the communist movement still exists in Indonesia. Because of this, we must always remember to be on guard against the danger of latent communism”, he said.

Furthermore, Prabowo is asking the public to continue to be on guard against the suspected existence of communist ideas in Indonesia because countries with genuine communist ideologies still exist in the world, such as China and Cuba.

Speaking in the same vein, Prabowo’s predecessor former Defense Minister (Menhan) Ryamizard Ryacudu said he also supports policies that convey an understanding of the PKI’s history to students. Although, according to Ryacudu, what must not be forgotten is how to impart the values of Pancasila as national identity to students.

Moreover, he claims that he once conveyed this view to the former Minister for Education and Culture (Mendikbud) in President Joko Widodo’s Working Cabinet, Muhadjir Effendy, so that Effendy would also support this outlook.

“When I was the Menhan, I summoned the Mendikbud, I asked that children be taught the right kind of Pancasila, hopefully this will be pursued”, he said at the event.

On the issue of the PKI meanwhile, Ryacudu believes that society does indeed need to be on guard against the ideology because the PKI has on three occasions launched rebellions aimed at overthrowing the sovereign government.

“The PKI is extraordinary, truly extraordinary. There’s no need to explain, they’ve rebelled three times, in 1926, 1948, 1965. The concern now is they will double down, be weary of this. We must be on guard”, he said. (uli/dea)


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.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Prabowo Minta Guru Ceritakan Sejarah PKI yang Benar ke Siswa”.]