NU to Report Tempo for ‘Imbalanced Coverage’ on Communist Killings
Surabaya. The East Java branch of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization has reported Tempo Magazine to the Indonesia Press Council after the publication accused some of its clerics of being behind the Indonesian communist purges of the late 1960s.
“We demand the right to reply to Tempo Magazine,” deputy secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) of East Java, Achmad Sujono, told Antara news agency in Surabaya on Sunday.
“We will also report [Tempo] to the Press Council for violating Article 6 of the Press Law and Article 4 of the Indonesian Journalist Code of Conduct.”
Achmad claimed Tempo Magazine wrote in a slanderous way that KH Machrus Aly, Gus Ali Maksum, Idris Marzuki and other preachers associated with the NU reportedly murdered members of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965.
“Tempo overly simplified the issue and seems careless [about the situation],” he said. “The coverage humiliates Islamic boarding schools and fails to cover both sides. Even the opinions column purposely cornered the NU by claiming it actively ‘cleansed’ Central and East Java of PKI members.”
In a few recent stories published by Tempo Magazine, sources supposedly informed Tempo that the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) often used civilians, including some members of the Nahdlatul Ulama’s youth wing, Pemuda Ansor, to kill members of the communist party.
Abdul Malik, the leader of Pemuda Ansor, told Tempo that “TNI were the ones that arrested them, while we were the executors. TNI used others’ hands to [kill].”
He added that the PKI also took part in killings before 1965, most notably in Kanigoro village, Kediri, East Java and Madiun.
“Many witnesses of the “Madiun Fair of 1958″ that are still alive [state] that the PKI revolt was more cruel and sadistic,” he said, adding that the NU was more of a victim than the PKI was.
A researcher from the Indonesian Center for Community Studies, Arukat Jaswadi, said that the 1965 killings should not be categorized as a human rights violation and that people should also take into account the PKI’s actions in Madiun and Kanigoro in order to put the situation into perspective.
“If all the incidents are being linked, the PKI is not the victim but the failed perpetrator of a coup d’etat,” Arukat said. “Moreover, they spread communist ideas that are prohibited in this Pancasila-based nation. Imagine if they won? Indonesia would have been a communist nation and Pancasila would have been eliminated.”
Arukat added that people should be cautious about current communist movements that have the infiltrated mass media.