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Healing Old Political Wounds

A victim of the 1965 incident is planning a reconciliation meeting and will invite the Suharto and D.N. Aidit families.

ONE evening in 1994 Sugiharto felt frustrated and bitter. Incidentally he heard Yasser Fito Anugerah, his son, who was in grade V of the elementary school, learn by heart the names of the heroes of the revolution and later on the names of the Revolutionary Council members--who were on the opposite side. Yasser, 11 at that time, was too small to know: the name of one of the Revolutionary Council members he read was Brig. Gen. Supardjo, that of his own grandfather's.

Sugiharo is the third of Supardjo's 12 children. The man who is now 50 finally laid out his family's history to Yasser, 21, and another son, Mohammad Hamzah Harlo Ortega, 16, after they both sat in senior high school. About their grandfather in particular, who was nicknamed "the red general" and was recorded as a traitor in the history of the New Order. "I thought then, let it not become a resentment," he said thoughtfully.

Resentment is not impossible, considering the discrimination he had to suffer. This graduate from the faculty of medicine of the Trisakti University was not allowed to practice (as a physician), because of his father's "political sins". He then became a businessman to support his family. His wife, Yulia Noor Soraya, is the daughter of the former Religious Affairs Minister, Saefudin Zuhri.

For a long time he kept his thoughts on "healing old wounds" within himself, until at one time the Panca Marga Youth, an organization of veterans' sons and daughters, introduced him to Nani Nurachman Sutoyo, Lt. Gen. (ret) Agus Widjojo's younger sister. Nani and Agus are the daughter and son of the hero of the revolution, the late Maj. Gen. Sutoyo. At a gathering at the Dharmawangsa Hotel in South Jakarta, at the end of 1998, Sugiharto realized, that Nani too had the idea to have victims of the 1965 incident families meet each other.

Afterwards, gatherings were held one after another. Both were once invited to the palace, when Abdurrahman Wahid was president. To Gus Dur they forwarded the idea to have families of past political victims meet each other. "At that time Gus Dur said, go on," said Sugiharto. A quite "big" and rather formal gathering was then held at the Pulau Dua Restaurant, South Jakarta last April 7. Not only families of ex-1965 incident victims attended the gathering, also present were Sudjono Kartosuwirjo, the youngest son of Sekar Madji Kartosuwirjo, the leader of the Darul Islam/Tentara Islam (DI/TII-Indonesian Muslim Armed Forces, a rebel group in) West Java, the grandson of Daud Beurueh, the leader of the Aceh DI/TII and Yap Hong Gie, the son of Yap Thiam Hien, a well-known lawyer who was very critical of the Old Order regime.

There Nani explained the existence of the Kerti Mahayana Foundation, which was set up in 2000, to join in handling problems faced by people, who suffer from traumas and had experienced discriminations, because of political conflicts in the past. Nani also expected the government to stop the continuous punishment of those victims. "A very beautiful idea," said Hardoyo, ex-Chairman of the Concentration of Indonesian Students Movement (CGMI), an organization of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) students, who also participated in the gathering.

Hardoyo, who was registered as a member of the Revolutionary Council, had been detained in the Salemba Prison and Nirbaya for 13 years. He hoped that the government would support this kind of movement so that it may become a national reconciliation movement. But, "It seems that the government's interest in human rights matters is very low," said the 69-year-old.

The low interest does not make Suryo Susilo, an activist of the Panca Marga Youth, one of the facilitators of the gathering, lose his spirit. According to him, there should be a body, so that family members could meet each other. "In order that what happened to their parents would not continue to be done or experienced by their children and grandchildren and become a national resentment," he said. In this month's gathering it is intended to invite the Gen. Suharto family and the family of D.N. Aidit, who was chairman of the PKI Central Committee. Sugiharto said: "I hope, it will be like a snowball, which continuously grows bigger and bigger."

Abdul Manan.

TEMPO, MAY 12, 2003-035/P. 26 Heading National


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