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Jakarta Post

The riots that saw Megawati rise to the top

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, July 27, 2015   /  05:14 pm
The riots that saw Megawati rise to the top New digs: Security guards buy coffee from a vendor in front of the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in Central Jakarta on Sunday. (JP/DON) (PDI-P) in Central Jakarta on Sunday. (JP/DON)

New digs: Security guards buy coffee from a vendor in front of the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in Central Jakarta on Sunday. (JP/DON)

For Budiman Sudjatmiko, the memory is still fresh of the massacre on July 27, 1996, at the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI)'€™s offices on Jl. Diponegoro in Menteng, Central Jakarta. It was a Saturday.

'€œI was finally caught after days of hiding with other activists. Images of our faces were spread on the papers and television and we were labeled the instigators of a riot after the military took over the PDI'€™s Menteng office in Central Jakarta on July 27,'€ Budiman told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Some of his fellow activists, he said, were still missing today. Others were tortured by the military personnel to force them to disclose the hiding place of the then Democratic People'€™s Party (PRD).

The riot, known as Kudatuli or Gloomy Saturday, is a dark chapter in Indonesia'€™s rights records. Then president Soeharto could no longer tolerate the rising power of Megawati Soekarnoputri, the PDI chairwoman. Soeharto appointed Megawati'€™s own mentor, Soerjadi, to forcibly wrest control of the party from the daughter of the country'€™s first president, Sukarno.

On that day, led by then Jakarta Military chief Sutiyoso, soldiers emptied PDI headquarters of Megawati'€™s die-hard supporters. The former Jakarta governor was recently appointed National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) recorded five deaths, 149 people, including law enforcers, injured and 136 people detained during the riot.

It remains a shadowy case today, even after Megawati ruled the country from July 2001 to October 2004 as the country'€™s fifth president.

Budiman called for the case to be resolved. '€œThe government does not only need to reconcile with the victims; there also needs to be rehabilitation and compensation,'€ he argued.

Soeharto stepped down on May 21, 1998, two years after Kudatuli. Megawati marked the Reform Era by changing the party'€™s name to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), and the party won the 1999 general election.

On Friday, The Jakarta Post met Kuncoro, the head of the Communication Forum of the 124 victims of July 27 (FKK-124), at PDI-P headquarters.

Kuncoro still vividly remembers the tragedy.

'€œI saw Sutiyoso on the field, gesturing with his hands to a group of men with shaved heads with handkerchiefs wrapped around, wearing army boots and red PDI uniforms, to attack us. They were ABRI [Indonesian Armed Forces] personnel,'€ he said.

Following the deadly riot, 124 people were imprisoned by the police for at least four months after being convicted of causing the riot.

PDI-P law council head Trimedya Panjaitan said that the party would let the country'€™s law enforcement settle the case.

'€œWe keep urging Komnas HAM and the Attorney General'€™s Office to settle the case. The government has only sentenced the minor perpetrators, not the generals,'€ Trimedya told the Post.

Megawati opened the newly renovated party headquarters on June 1 this year, in conjuction with Pancasila Day, which commemorates the national ideology her father introduced on June 1, 1945. The 7,000 square-meter building has six floors and two parking basements.

The building is inscribed with a motto written in Megawati'€™s handwriting, reading, and '€œKeep the fighting spirit to keep Pancasila alive. Our lives are an undying flame dedicated to the great, the beloved Indonesia.'€

But the building bears no inscription, no reference to the lost lives, the missing or those who suffered torture on that fateful July day, all of them die-hard supporters of Megawati. (rbk)

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