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Jakarta Post

Museum still conveys New Order version of history

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, September 29, 2015   /  06:13 pm
Museum still conveys New Order version of history Visualized history: A diorama is seen at the Pengkhianatan PKI (Communist Betrayal) Museum, Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta. Jointly managed by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the Education and Culture Ministry, the museum boasts a vast collection of historic items related to the botched coup of Sept. 30, 1965, blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).(JP/P.J. Leo) (Communist Betrayal) Museum, Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta. Jointly managed by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the Education and Culture Ministry, the museum boasts a vast collection of historic items related to the botched coup of Sept. 30, 1965, blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).(JP/P.J. Leo)

Visualized history: A diorama is seen at the Pengkhianatan PKI (Communist Betrayal) Museum, Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta. Jointly managed by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the Education and Culture Ministry, the museum boasts a vast collection of historic items related to the botched coup of Sept. 30, 1965, blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).(JP/P.J. Leo)

Built during the tenure of Indonesia'€™s second president Soeharto, the Pancasila Sakti (Sacred Pancasila) monument complex in Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta, continues to promote the New Order regime'€™s version of the murder of six Army generals and one lieutenant on the night of Sept. 30, 1965.

The memorial complex comprises sites that have narration, recordings and lurid pictures and dioramas depicting the violence allegedly inflicted by Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members on Lt. Gen. Ahmad Yani, Maj. Gen. R. Suprapto, Maj. Gen. S. Parman, Maj. Gen. MT Harjono, Brig. Gen. Soetojo Siswomihardjo, Brig. Gen. DI Pandjaitan and First Lt. Pierre Tendean.

Historians have long disputed the New Order'€™s version, saying that autopsies of the bodies did not indicate any torture.

On the veranda of the site, for example, the alleged torture of the seven officers is graphically portrayed through several adult-size figures, splattered with artificial blood, rags and sharp weapons, and a recorded narration recounting in graphic detail how the men were tortured.

Despite such gory depictions of violence, the complex still attracts hundreds of visitors, including families with young children. Among the visitors last Sunday were Mike, her husband and three kids who had traveled over 40 kilometers from their home in Sukatani, West Java.

Mike took her family to the site at the urging of 12-year-old son Raihan, who had watched a video about the Pancasila Sakti complex on YouTube. Raihan, who is interested in Indonesian history, said he wanted to learn more about the history of the tragedy, also known as G30S, at the actual location as he felt the video was not comprehensive enough.

'€œI can learn about many things here [in the complex] as the video did not say precisely what happened on Sept. 30, 1965,'€ said Raihan, adding that he did not get such information in his history classes at school.

'€œThe most terrifying part is when a PKI member burned a general'€™s face with a cigarette,'€ he said.

Raihan'€™s father, an Army officer who preferred not to reveal his name, regretted that such history was no longer taught in schools, saying that recent governments did not take the matter seriously enough.

During the New Order era, PKI blame for the 1965 coup attempt was thoroughly instilled into Indonesians, not only through museums, but also in schools.

At the time, students usually learned the version of history from a propaganda film entitled Pemberontakan G30S PKI (The Sept. 30 PKI Rebellion) and textbooks.

However, since 1998, when Soeharto'€™s New Order collapsed, Indonesian students are no longer obliged to watch the film.

In 2004, the education ministry under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono'€™s administration revised school history books in 2004, saying the PKI had been only one of several instigators of the 1965 coup attempt.

Then in 2006 sole blame for the events was returned to the PKI, on the grounds that having the PKI as the main perpetrator was the most acceptable version for Indonesians.

'€œActually, it is difficult to tell whether the PKI was behind the 1965 coup as there is no evidence to prove the party'€™s direct involvement in arranging it,'€ said historian Hilmar Farid.

Autopsy reports on the seven officers'€™ bodies revealed that they had been shot dead, not tortured as was depicted in the memorial complex, said Hilmar.

He added that the PKI'€™s blame was decided only based on circumstantial evidence, such as a speech by PKI leader DN Aidit, who said he wanted to destroy the armed forces.

Hilmar said that since the Reform Era facts that were contrary to New Order propaganda had come to light, allowing citizens to draw their own conclusions about the tragedy.

'€œThe memorial complex is a means for those agreeing with Soeharto'€™s New Order perspective. Others with different perspectives certainly have different options,'€ said Hilmar. (agn)

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