IO – Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) General Secretary Hasto Kristianto declared the 27 July Riots (Kerusuhan Dua Puluh Tujuh Juli – “Kudatuli”) that occurred 24 years ago stand as an important historical milestone that precedes the 1998 Reforms. They galvanized the people by showing them that it was possible to oppose and bring down President Soeharto’s 32-year-long tyranny. Hasto stated that PDIP’s General Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri taught him the importance of political reconciliation and making peace with the past. The incident was commemorated on 27 July 2020 at the Office of PDIP’s Central Leadership Council (DPP), Central Jakarta, with the scattering of flowers, prayers, and webinar. “Mrs. Megawati teaches us to make peace with the past and look ahead to the future. Here is the moral strength of a leader,” he said in his official statement on Monday (27/07/2020).
The Kudatuli incident occurred on 27 July 1996. It was sparked by dualism within the Indonesian Democratic Party (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia – “PDI”). On that date, the PDI General Chairman elected by the PDI Congress in Medan, Soerjadi, allegedly invaded and took over DPP PDI’s office at Jalan Diponegoro 58, Central Jakarta. The Office was held by PDI whose General Chairwoman was elected by the Surabaya Congress, Megawati Soekarnoputri. The National Human Rights Commission (Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia – “Komnas HAM”) recorded five deaths, 149 injured, and 23 missing in the incident. It is said that a number of high military officials were involved.
Hasto stated that the Kudatuli Incident was not just an attack towards the symbol of a valid political party’s sovereignty, but also an attempt to murder democracy. It was characteristic of the New Order government, which uses power to silence its own people. “Power was expressed in authoritarian and anarchic actions,” he said.
Even though the PDI office at Jalan Diponegoro was razed to the ground thanks to Kudatuli, Hasto recalled that Megawati continued to abide by the laws and submitted her charges in 267 regencies and cities. He recalled how the New Order’s power and influence over law enforcement shadowed Megawati’s lawsuits. “Our moral grounds were sustained when a Judge called Tobing in Riau Province granted Mrs. Megawati’s charges. And that was how one man’s conscience defeated a tyranny,” he said.
Despite such treatment from the New Order regime towards her, despite the people’s knowledge of how the regime made her and her family suffer greatly with its efforts to denigrate Soekarno and smear him as a dark part of Indonesia’s history, Megawati actually requested that PDIP cadres stop badmouthing Soeharto. Hasto finds this amazing, as he knew how much political pressure and discrimination Bung Karno’s family suffered during the New Order. Quoting Megawati herself, “I don’t want history to repeat itself: how a President was so adored when he was in power, and denigrated when he was no longer in power. The people have noted what Bung Karno’s family has suffered. This is why Bung Karno is always in the hearts and minds of the people. We must not be so preoccupied with past vengeance that we forget the future.” (dan)