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ANOTHER LOOKAT THE INDONESIAN"COUP"
In the early hours of Octobe r 1st, 1965, six senior genera ls, including the command er of the Army, Lt. Gen. Yani,were abducted andmurdered at the Halim Air Force Base on the outskirts ofDjakarta.Meanwhile rebel troops occupied Djaka rt a 1s Freedom Square enabling themto control thePresidentspalace, the telecommunications center andthe radio station. An announ cement was broadcas t which said that the"September 30th Movement/ 1 hea ded by Lt. Col.Untung,had arrested members of the CIAsponsored"Council of Generals"which had been plan ninga coup against Presiden t Sukarno. In Central Java a similar"coup"was carried out against the commander of theArmy's DiponegoroDivision, Brig. Gen. Surjosumpeno.The"coup attempt" in Djakar ta had failed by the evening of Octo ber 1st. Although President Sukarno hadmoved to theHalim ba se,herefused to commit himself in favor of the rebels. Meanw hileMaj. Gen.Suharto mob ili zed forces to retake Halim. By the time that Suharto'stroops had taken control of the base shortly after dawn on the 2nd,President Sukarno, Untung and his associates as well as thePKI chairman, Aidit, had all left. In Cent ral Java , Brig. Gen . Surjosumpenoreoccupied his headquarte rs in Semarang on October 2nd but his authoritywas not fully rees tablis hed until three weeks later when reinforcements ofelite troops arrived from Djakarta. Thes e troops not onlyrestored Surjosumpeno 1s authority but alsoset off themassacres whicheliminated the PKI as apolitic al force inIndonesia.What was the"Septem ber 30th Movement"? Three main interpretations have beenput forward. Accor din g to thefirst, itwas,as itclaimed to be, a moveme nt of milit ary officers who were dissatisfiedwith the army leadership. Secondly, it has been argued by the Indonesian Army that the who leaffairwas masterm ind ed by the PKI (IndonesianCommunistParty). The third interpretation suggestsa partnershipbetween dis sident officers and the PKI leaders.Initial ly the PKI was linked to the coup attempt through a numbe rof circumstances. It was discovered that Aidit had been present atthe Halim base onOctober 1st and that members of communist mass organ izations, such as Ger wan i (Gerakan Wanita IndonesiaIndonesianWomen'sMovement) andPemuda Rakjat (People'sYouth),had been present at themurd er and burial of the gene rals. The PKI had also given public sup
port to the "September 30thMovement." In Central Java, the PKI mayorof Solo had issued astatement in support ofUntung, and on the 2nd aPKIled demonstratio n was held in Jogja karta, while in Djakarta thePKInewspaper, HaranRakjat,published aneditorial praising Untung.These early indication s of PKI involvemen t and support were followedby the"confession"of the PKI Politburo memb er, Njono, which was published early inDecember and the"confession"ofAidit,allegedlyextracted before he wasshot,which appeared in theJapanese press inFebr uary , 1966. In these"confessions"both admitted that the PKI had
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played a major role in organizing the coup attempt. It was on evidenceof this sort that the A rmyf s case wasoriginally built.In January, 1966, two scholars at Cornell University, Benedict R.Anderson and Ruth T. M c V e y , produced unpublished papers (jointly known
as the Cornell Paper ) in which they put forward an alternative hypothesis which they felt conformed with all the facts that had been madeknown at that t ime.1 They argued that the coup attempt was an internal army affair in which discontented and frust rat ed colonels fromthe Diponegoro Division in Central Java revolted against the generalsin the army leadership who had been corr upted by the fleshpots of Dja karta. They argued that the P K I had no motive for participating in acoup attempt. It had been making great gains under the existing systemso its best strategy was to maintain the status quorather than upsetit by supporting a coup. Thus the involvement o f the PKI was incidental. They hypothesized that Aidit had been taken to Halim firstly toprevent the PKIfrom exploiting the situation and secondly as a meansof putting pressure on the President to support the movement. Theutilization of P e m u d a Rakjat and Gerwani members was intended to supplement the very small forces that the movement leaders had under theirc o m m a n d in Djakarta. These PKIsupporters were being trained at Halimat that time as part of the Air Forcef s preparations for the creationof a fifth force, 2 so it was not the PKIthat arranged fo r theirparticipation but certain Air Force o f f ice r s . PKIsuppor t for thecoup attempt in Central Java and in aran Rakjat was dismissed as notproving or even indicating PKIinvolvement in the abduction of thegenerals. The authority of the N j o n o confession (which N j o n o himself withdrew during his trial in February, 1966) was doubted becauseof a number of blatant inaccuracies, such as references to Politburomeetings attended by Aidit and Njoto in July, when in fact both wereabroad during that month, and N j o n o 1 s apparent co nfusio n as to whowere the m e m b e r s of the Politburo. As for the Aidit confession,which appeared after the Cornell Paper had been prepared, it is certain that its authenticity would no t have been accepted by the authors.3
The view that the PKI took nopart in the planning of the coupattempt was seriously challenged when important PKIleaders appearedbefore the Mahmillub ( M a h k a m a h Militer Luar BiasaExtraordinary Military Tribunal) cour t set up to try those alleged to have been involved,1*
1. The Cornell Paper, at first distributed privately, waspublished in 1971 asBenedict R . A n d e r s o n an d R ut h T . McVey, APreliminary Analysis of the October 1,1965,Coup in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell Modern Indonesia Project).2. In January, 1965, the PKI had proposed the formation of a fifth force of armedworkers andpeasants in addition to the Arm y , Air Force, Navy andPolice. The
Air Force leaders were sympathetic to the proposal,because its implementationw o u l d have provided a further counterweight to the p o w e r of the Arm y .3. Fewscholars take the Aidit confession seriously. Oneexception is John 0.Sutter, TwoF a c e s of Konfrontasi: 'Crush Malaysia1 and the Gestapu, AsianSurvey, Vol.VI, No. 10 (October 1966), pp. 535 and 541. The Army did not produce this confession as evidence in the M a h m i l l u b trials.4. President Sukarno authorized Suharto to set up the M a h m i l l u b in December, 1965.The full proceedings of the N j o n o , U n t u n g , and Subandrio trials have beenpublished by the Pusat Pendidikan Kehakiman A n g k a t a n Darat (Army Legal EducationCenter). I have also used transcripts of the full proceedingsof the Omar Dhani ,
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The trial evidence must of course betreated with caution. TheArmy,which conducted the trials, had already blamed the PKI as thedalang(shadowplay puppeteer, i.e., mastermind)behind the coup attempt andno effortwas spa red by the prosecutor s or judges to drive this pointhome. Further, many witnesses may well have had reason to mislead thecourt and some claimed tohave suffered beatings during pretrial interrogation. However, it is too easy to dismiss the trial evidence outofhand. Important admissions were made by both communist andmilitary figures which indicated at least PKIin volvement.5 Inparticular,the testimony of PKI leaders such as the Politburo me mber s, Sudismanand Njono, and thecandidate memb er of the Politburo, Peris Pardede, inwhich th eir involveme nt in one way or anot her was admitted, greatlystrengthened theArmy s case. That thesemenwere notmerely recitingpreviously rehearsed"confessions was indicated by thefrequency withwhich they made statements that were unwelcome to thecourt. Whilethey usually admi tted the actions of which they were accused, they rejected the interpretations mad e by the prosecutio n. They denied thatthe coup had been directed against the government and justified theactions of the "September 30th Movement
11 on the grounds that therereally had been a"Council of Generals"plannin g to depos e Sukarno.
Whil e the testim ony of these PKI leaders at least implicated thePKI, theArmy's case wen t much further. According to theArmy,thePKI was the sole dalang which had initiated the plauning and organization of the coup attempt. 6 The key figure linking the PKI to the"September 30th Moveme nt" was thehead of the PKI s"SpecialBureau,"who was known by a number of pseudony ms, but generall y referred to asSjam. Sjam was resp on sib le only to Aidit and his activities were unknown to mos t PKI leade rs. The Special Bureau had thefunction ofmaintaining contact with members of theArmed Forces who were considered to be sympathet ic to the PKI. When Sukarno experien ced asudden illness in August , 1965, Aidi t feared that he might die or become inca pacitate d, in which case the Army le adership could be expectedto move to consolidate its position at the expense of the PKI. Inorder to prevent this, he ordere d Sjam to mobilize the PK I fs supporters in the Arme d Forces to take action a gainst the Army leadership.Thus the PKI was respon sibl e for the coup attempt. The military pa rticipants were mere tools in its han ds.
Doubts have been cast on theArmy's version on the grounds of itsinherent improbability. It is hard to beli eve that officers holdingimportant military positions could bemanipu].ited so easily. Further,as the Cornell Paper sugge sted, it is easy to belie ve that these officers had reasons oftheir own forbein g dissatisfied with theArmyleadership, regardless of thePKI V Thus, a third interpretation of
Sudisman, Muljono and Utomo Ramelan trials. In the cases of Supardjo, Sjam andWirjomartono,I have relied on fairly detailed summaries of testimony given inthe judgments. Many other trials have been held which I have not been able toconsult.5. This conclusion is also supported by the statements of PKI emigre groups in
Europe and elsewhere. See Rex Mortimer, "Indonesia:EmigrePostMortemson thePKI,"Australian Outlook, Vol. XX II,No. 3(December1968),p.347.6. Themost complete statementof the Army'scaseisNugroho Notosusanto and
IsmaelSaleh, The CoupAttempt ofthe 'September30'MovementinIndonesia(Djakarta: Pembimbing M i ^ a 1968).
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the "September 30th Movement" suggests that it was the outcome of cooperation between dissident officers and the PKI leaders. It seems quitepossib le that the milit ary dissiden ts had alre ady begun to plan theirmove against the Army leaders before contact was made with th e PKIor,alternatively, there may have been a more or less equal pa rtner ship.So far, sup porters of this interpretation h ave confined thems elves topointing out that this possibility remainsopen.7 In what follows Ishall examine the testimony presented at themain Mahmillub trialswhich, despite the Ar m y s aim to prove that the PKI was the dalang, infact suggests that themilitary figures had their ownmotives forparticipating and that the origin al initiative arose within the Army.Given the purpose of the trials, it is only to be expected that theevidence for this inter pretation is inco nclu sive. Nevertheless it isnot unconvincin g. At the same time the evidence presented at thetrials overwhe lmin gly supports the view that the PKI was deeply involved.
The case that the PKI was con sciou sly in volved in the planning andorganization of the coup a ttempt had to overcome a number of substantial objectio ns. Firstly, all of the overt participants were membersof the Armed Force s, mai nl y from the Arm y but also from the Air Force.No PKI members appeared to be associated with the leadership of thecoup attempt. Ifthe PKI real ly did play a majo r ro le, why was it soheavi ly dis gui sed and wha t did it actually do? Secon dly, apart fromone PKIled demons tration in Jogjakarta on October 2nd, the PKI completely refrained from mobilizin g its mass su pport behin dUntung fsmovem ent . If the PKI was in volved, why did it fail to utilize its mosteffective weap on in support of the moveme nt? Thirdly, as the CornellPaper said, the PKI "had be en doing very well by the peacefulroad."Political developments in 1964 and 1965 had s eeme d very favorable tothe PKI so why did it take the risk of initia ting or suppo rtin g a move ment aiming to upset favorable circumstances?
The argument that the PKI took part in the planning and organization of the coup attempt rests on evidence presented at the Mahmillubtrials held in1966, 1967, 1968 an d later. 8 PKI leaders such as Njono,Sudisman, Peris Pardede and Sjam s tressed that the party really believedthat there was a "Council of Generals" plan nin g eithe r to take overwhen Sukarno died or to depose him before he died. They were convincedthat such a takeover would be disastrous for the PKI. When the Presidentshealth gave cause for concern inearly August, the PK I s fearsbecame acute. Thus the PKI had a pres sin g reason for particip ating inthe coup attempt. Howe ver, the PKI did not have the physical resourcesto challenge the Army leaders in a direct confrontation. If we disr egard the testimo ny of Njon o, the picture that em erge s from the testimon ies of Sudisman, Peris Pard ede and Sjam is that it was deci ded that
7. E.g., Donald Hindley,"Aliransand theFallof the OldOrder,"Indonesia, No. 9(April1970),p. 35, and RexMortimer,"Unresolved Problemsof the IndonesianCoup,"Australian Outlook,Vol. XX V,No. 1(April1971),p. 99.
8. Theviewthatthe PKI was not involved in any way canonlybemaintainedbythosewho completely disregard the Mahmillubtrials. For example,despitedozens ofvolumes ofMahmillub testimony,Leslie Palmier asserted in1971"thatthe IndonesianArmyhasleftnostoneunturnedin the search formaterialto pinresponsibilityfor theMovementon to thePKI"but"appearstohave only produced aConfession1 which Aidit is purported tohave madejust beforehe wasshot." LesliePalmier, 30th September Movement in Indonesia,"ModernAsianStudies,Vol.5,No. 1(1971),p. 15.
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the coup should take the f o r m of an internal a r m y affair1 ' in whichdissident middle-level officers would take action against the topleadership. The P K I ' s role in the m o v e m e n t would remain hidden andthe P K I ' s m a s s organizations would not be mobilized so that the impres-sion w o u l d be created that the P K I was not involved. Bydisguisingits role, the PKIhoped that the m o v e m e n t w o u l d win acceptance moreeasily both within the A r m e d Forces and f r o m the political public ingeneral. The m o v e m e n t wasessentially defensive in that the aim was toprotect the PKI f r o m the Council of Generals. There is no suggestionthat the PKIaimed at taking over the government.9T h e evidence presented at the Mahmillub trials by communist lead-ers clearly implicated the PKI. It was demonstrated that the PKI hada motive and that its tactic of disguising its ownrole waslogical.H o w e v e r , the evidence of various witnesses at various trials did notlead to identical conclusions about the nature and extent of PKI in-volvement. Three main interpretations can be deduced f r o m the evidencegiven by important communists. Firstly, there is the N j o n o version.
N j o n o confessed that he personally had assisted the rebel officers andhad arranged for m e m b e r s of PKImass organizations to be trained as areserve force, but he denied that the PKIitself was involved in anyw a y . Secondly, according to Sudisman and Peris Pardede, the PKIlead-ership had decided to support the coup attempt but it was claimed thatthe initiative cam e f r o m the progressive of fic ers. Thirdly, theSpecial Bureau chief, S j a m , gave evidence which led to the conclusionthat the PKI had initiated the coup attempt and that the of fic ers in-volved had been manipu lated by the PKI . Thus the trials seemed toestablish that at least s o m e PKIleaders were involved in the coupattempt but the precise nature of that involvement wasstill subjectto varying interpretations.T h e first M a h m i l l u b trial washeld in February, 1966, to tryN j o n o . N j o n o was a m e m b e r of the P K I f s Politburo and headed the Dja-karta regional committee. He was also the chairman of the PKItradeunion federation, S O B S I (Sentral Organisasi Buruh Seluruh Indonesia--All Indonesian Federation of Labor Unions). N j o n o had been capturedalong with other PKIm e m b e r s and supporters on October 3rd,1965 buthis captors had not realized who he wasuntil the middle of N o v e m b e rw h e n he carelessly signed his ownn a m e instead of his pseudonym. Hew a s then interrogated with the result that the Army was able to extract
9. GuyPauker andJustus M. van der Kroef have put forward an offensive interpre-tation of the P K I ? s involvement . Earlier both had argued that the PK I was becom-ing the dominant influence on Su k a r n os government (e.g., Guy J. Pauker , Indone-sia in 1964:Toward a fP e o p l e ' s Democr acy1 ? " As ian Survey, V o l . V, No. 2 [Febru-ary 1965]; Justus M. van der K r o e f , Indonesian Communism's 'Revolutionary G y mnastics1, Asian Survey, Vol.V , No. 5 [May 1965] ) . Thus i t wasdifficult fo rthem to argue that the P K I ' s participation was defensive. Pauker is inclinedto believe that Aidit was preparing his owno f f e n s iv e against the Army leader-ship b e f o r e the rumours about the C oun c i l of Genera ls spread in late May1965.See G uy Pauk er, The Rise and Fall of th e Communist Party of Indonesia (SantaMonica : The R A N D Corporation, 1969) . Van der Kroef saw the coup attempt aspart of thefinal acceleration of the P K I ' s drive to power, which began almostexactly tw oyears to the day be fore the September 30, 1965coup. V an der K r o e f , 'Gestapu' in Indonesia, Orbis, Vol.X, N o. 2 (Summer 1966), p . 459. Howeverthere are noindications in the trial evidence that the coup attempt was thecul-mina t ion of a PKI offensive that commenced b e f o r e Augus t , 1965. Instead th eevidence suggests that it was an a lmos t desperatedefensive move .
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a "confession11 which was widely publi cized early in Dec em be r.1 0 In the"confession11 Njono adm itted that the Politburo had decided to supportthe"progressive officers1"plan to foil the coup planned by the "Coun-cil of Generals." He also admitted that he had been given the task ofmobilizing 2,000 volunteers from PKI mass organizations to form a re-serve force insupport of the "progressiveofficers." However, duringthetrial he withdrew the"confession." He claimed that it had beenmade in anatmosphere characterized by "communist-phobia" inwhichcom-munist prisoners were regularly being beate n up during in terr ogat ion .11According to Njono fs story at his trial,the PKI Politburohadheld three meet ings in August after Aidit fs return from abroad. Duringtheseme etin gs, three matters were raisedbyA idi t, firstly the illnessof the Presiden t, which was considered to be extremely serious, secondlythe information that the "Council of Generals" was planning to carryouta coup, and thirdly the initia tive of a group of "progressive offi-cers" who intended to take preventive action against the"Council ofGenerals." Aid it asked whether it was better to support the "progres-sive officers" intaking preventive action or to report thematter tothe President and wait for his decision. At the final meeting onAugust 28th, Aid it sugges ted that the second course be taken. ThusthePolitburo decidedtoreport to the President about the danger posedby the "Council of Generals" in the expectatio n that he would take pre-ventive action.12However, according to Njono, the "progressive officers" decid edto go ahead with their plan d esp ite the lack of support from thePKI.Early in Sep tem ber , Njono was asked by the officers to help them by re-cruiting at least 2,000 civilian volunteers to act as a reserve force.The "progressive officers" did not meet Njono directly but sent theirrequest through the general-secretary of Pemuda Rakjat,Sukanto,withwhom they already had contact as a result of the PemudaRakjat'spar-ticipation in the Air F orc e1s scheme togive secret milit ary trainingto civilian volunteers. The commander of Air Base Defense Troops atHalim,Major (Air Force)Sujono,who was in charge of the scheme, wasalso one of the "progressive officers." According toSujono's testi-mony, he had commenced training programs at the Halim base partly inorder to strengthen local defense of the base and partly to create anucleus for theproposed "fifth force." The program began onJuly 5th.In v.ly and August four courses were held lasting about one to twoweeks with at least 200-300 participants in each course. Virtuallyall the part icipants were from PKI mass organizations such as PemudaRakjat, BTI (Barisan Tani Indonesi a--I ndonesian PeasantLeague),SOBSIand Gerwani, although there were also some from the left-wing national-istparty, Partindo (Partai Indonesia-.-IndonesianParty). InSeptem-ber,twomore courses were held over shorter periods withmany morepart icipa nts. During the final course, 1,200 participant s were giventraining for five days.1 3 Njono admit ted thathe had arranged for the
10. AngkatanBersendjata (Djakarta),December3,1965.11. Njonofstestimony atNjonotrial. Pusat Pendidikan KehakimanAngkatan Darat,Gerakan 30 September.1 DihadapanMahmillubI. Perkara Njono(Djakarta: n.p.,1966),pp.59-60.12. Ibid.,pp.33-37.13. Sujonofs testimony at Njono trial. Ibid., pp.207-223.
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increasednumbers required in the final two courses. He decidedtomeet the request of the"progressive officers11 although he knew thathis action was in conflict with the decision of the Politburo. 11*
On September 28th, about 800 of the volunteers were recalled fora Mrefresher' fcourse.15 They were told that they were being trainedto fight against theNekoli m 1 6 who were planning to invade Indonesia.These volunteers formed the reserve force of the "September 30th Movement." They were ac commodated at Lubang Buaja, within the Halim AirBase, where the generals were later taken, killed andburied.
Thus, according toNjono's account, thePKI,as a party, had notbeen involved in the coup attempt. Although aware that the"progressiveofficers"were plann ing an action, the Politburo had refused toparticipate. However, Njono admitted that he, as an individual, hadagreed to support the "progressiveofficers"by using his position inthe PKI to recruit addition al forces from PKI mass organizations forthe "September 30thMovement." Whil e Njono knew the purpose for whichthese forces were to be used, the recruits themselves thought thattheywere bein g trained todefend the nation against the Nekolim.
While Njono s account was consistent with thefactsknown at thetime, its veracity can be doubte d. By Febr uary, 1966, the PKI hadbeen widely blamed for the coup attempt and great pressure was beingput on President Sukarno to formally diss olve it. Thus Njono may haveseenit as his duty toassume personal responsibility for theparticipation of PKI elements in the coup attempt inorder to absolve theparty. The crucial part ofN j o n o 1s story was his claim that th e Politburohad dec ide d not to part icip ate in the activities of the "progressiveofficers"but to report the matter directly to the President.However Njono admitted that Aidit hadbee n deeply worried abouttheprobability that the"Council of Generals" would carry out acoup ifthePresident's health continued to deteriora te. Further, he admittedthat Aidit had established contact with agroup ofdissidentofficerswho wanted to take preventive action against the"CouncilofGenerals."Moreover, he confessed that he, a membe r of the Politburo, had cooperated with the dissidentofficers by recruiting volunteers from PKImass organizations to act as reserveforces. While consistent withhis claim that he acted as an individual, these admissions at leastsuggested the likelihood of a far deeper involvement of the PKI thanNjonowas prepared to admit.
The story put forward by Sudisman in his trial inJuly, 1967,differed from that ofNjono. Sudisman had been the fourth man in thePKI hierarchy after Aidit, Lukman and Njoto, and was a member of thefourman Standing Committee of the^Politburo. He had be en captured inDecember, 1966. Su dis ma n
fs account was supported by Peris Pardede,who had been a candidate member of the Politburo.
Peris Pardede had also give n evidence at the Njon o trial. At thattrial he said that he had been invited to attend a meeting of the
14. Njonofstestimony atNjonotrial. Ibid., pp. 53 and 79.15. Sujonostestimonyat Untungtrial. PusatPendidikan KehakimanAngkatanDarat,'Gerakan 50September.f DihadapanMahmillub II. Perkara Untung (Djakarta:n.p.,1966),p.114.16. PresidentSukarno'stermforneocolonialists,colonialists andimperialists.
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Politburo "a few days after the celebrations onAugust 17th,1965."Aidit spoke to the mee ting about his recent overseas tour which hadbeen cut shortwhenhe heard thenewsof thePresidents illness. Ac-cording to thePresidentsdoc tors, the President faced two alterna-tives--eitherparalysis ordeath unless hechangedhis style oflife.Aidit considered such a change to be unlikely. After discussing thethreat posed by the"Council of Generals" and the existence of the"progressiveofficers,"Aidi t said thathe had been asked for his opin-ion by the "progressive officers" on whether to take preventive actionorto wait for the"Council of Generals" to act first. Aidit told thePolitburo that he personally tended to prefer taking preventive action.When he asked for theiropinions,no one spoke,soAidit asked whetherthe Politburo would agree to the matter being settled by the StandingCommittee. When no one objected to this, the meetin g closed. Aboutten days later Pardede asked Sudisman what the Standing Committee haddecided. Sudisman replied that they had decidedtosupport apreven-tiveaction by the "progressiveofficers."17At his trial in1967, Sudisman confirmed P ar dedefsaccountof thePolitburomeeting which had handed thequestion over to the StandingCommittee. However Sudisman was unclear on the exact date of thePolitburo meeti ng. At one point he seemed to agree with Pardedestestimony that thePolitburo had met "severaldays"after August 17th,while elsewhere he said that this meet ing took place on August 28th.At other timeshe said that thePolitburo meetingon August 28thhaditself decided to support the "progressive officers." He admitted thathe could not remember the precise dates of the meeting s. Thus it wouldappear that the discussions reported by Pardede as taking place "sev-eral days" after August 17th may in fact have taken place on August28th inwhich case Pardedefs evidence directly contradictsNjonos.Inanycase Sudisman stated that the Standing Committeehad agreedtosupport the plans of the "progressiveofficers."Following the decision to support the "progressiveofficers,"Sudisman said that Aidi t asked Njono to recruit about 2,000 members ofmass organizations tobecome reserve forces at the disposal of the"progressiveofficers." Further Sudisman was asked tosend messengerstowarn PKIbranches in theregions to be onguard. Later inSeptem-ber,Sudisman sent messengers to Medan, Palemb ang, Banten, Central Javaand East Java in order to inform the local branches of the possibilityof action against the"Council ofGenerals." They were also to in-struct the regional partiesto listen continuously tonews broa dcastsfrom Djakarta and "to assist the RevolutionaryCouncil." It was en-visagedthat local PKI branches would join together with other partiesand groups in issuing statements or demonstrating in support of thecoup attempt and the Revolutionary Council which was to be set up bythe rebels. However they were not told that the PKI itself was in-volved in planning the action.Thus Sudisman admi tted that the PKI leadership had consciouslysupported thecoup attempt. However, he claimed that the PKI hadonlyassisted what was essentially amovement carried out by the "progres-siveofficers." Moreover, he insisted that the participatio n of thePKI leaders in the movem ent did not mean that the party as a whole wasinvolved. Reflecting on the support given to the coup attem pt, Sudis-man had come to the conclusion that he and the other members of the
17. PerisPardedefstestimony atNjonotrial. Perkara Njono,pp.130-134.
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Politburohad been guilty of"adventurism"which "was not base d on thehigh consciousness and convictions of themassof thepeople."18 Thus,the picturepr esented by Sudisman was one of marginal involvementof the PKI leadershipin acoup attempt thatwas essentially carriedout by a group of Army an d Air Force officers.In March, 1967, the mysteriou s Kamarusaman,widely known asSjam,was arrested. He gave evidence at the Sudisman trial inJuly, 1967,and faced his own trial in February and March, 1968. He had been mentioned in the earlier trials of "progressiveofficers"such as Untungand Sujono who alleged thathe had played an important role inorganizing the coup attempt. However ver y little was known about him untilhe was captured.According to Sjam, he had first met Aidit during the revolutionin Jogjakar ta in 19451946. Later Sjammoved to Djakarta where hebecame anofficial of a trade union for harbor workers at TandjungPriok. It was at Tandjung Priok that he met Aidit again in 1949 whenAidit was detained by police because he had traveled on a ship from
Chinawithouta ticket. Usinghisinfluenceas aunion official,Sjamhelped to have Aidit releas ed. Aidit then persuaded him to join thePKI. Betwe en 1952 and 1955 Sjam worke d on thestaffof the PKIdominated trade union, SOBSI, and in 1957 he becameAidit spersonalassistant. Later he also wor ked in the organization departme nt of theP K I fs secretariat. Sjam's main task was to approach members of theArmed Forces in order to win their sym pathy for the PKI. He commencedthis activity in 1957 whe n he beca me an informant for the intelligencesection of the Djakarta garrison.Late in 1964, the Politburo of the PKI decided to establish aSpecial Bureau to supervise the party's work within the Armed Forces.Sjam was appointed tohead theburea u whichwas made directly responsible to the party chairman, Aidit. Sjans main colleagues in thecentral Spec ial Bureau were Pon o and Walujo (also known asBono).Special Bureaus were also established in the regions independently oftheparty branches with theresult that re gion al party secretaries didnot always know who were the Special Bureau representatives in theirregion. Accordin g to Sjam, by 1965 the SpecialBureau's activitieswere"running smoothly" in only seven province s. Of these the mostsuccessful were in Central Java wher e contact had been made with 250sympathizers in the Arme d Forces and in East Java with about 200 sympathizers. In West Java there wer e 80100, Djakarta 4050, North Sumatra3040,West Sumatra ab out30 andBali about30.19On August 12th, 1965, a fewdays after Aidit fs return from abroad,Sjam was called to his house. Aidi t spoke about thePresident'sserious illness and the likelihood that the"Council ofGenerals"wouldtake immediate action if he died. He told Sjam that he had obtainedinformation about the"Council ofGenerals" from Sakirman, amemberofthe PKI's Politburo and theolder brotherofMaj.Gen. Parman, thehead of Army Intelligen ce and supposed ly a memb er of the"Councilof
18. My summary ofSudisman1sversionisbasedon histestimonyat histrial.19. Sjam'strial. MahkamahMiliterLuarBiasa,Perkara Kamarusaman binAhmadMubaidah (Sjam)(Djakarta, 1968cyclostyled), p. 6.
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Generals." 20 Aid it ordered Sjam to"review ourforces" and to "preparea movement." On the 13th, Sjam met Pono an dW al uj ot o discuss possibleparticipa nts in "a movement." They decided to approach Col. Latief,the commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade in Djakarta, Lt. Col.Untung,commander of one of the three battal ions cf the Tjakrabirawapalaceguard in Djakarta, and Major (AirForce)Sujono, the commander of AirBaseDefense Troops at the Halim Air Force base. All three agreed tojoin the moveme nt. However Aidit felt that more officers should beapproached so contact was made with Major Sigi t, the commander of oneof the battalions inLatief fs InfantryBr iga de, and Captain Wahjudi,who commanded an Air Defense Battalion. They also agreed tojoin themovement.On September 6th, the five military conspirators met for thefirst time together with Sjam and Pono of the Special Bureau. Theymet at Wahj udi fshouse. Sjam spoke to themeeting about thePresi-dent^ illness,the"Council ofGenerals"and theeconomic difficul-ties faced by ordinary soldiers. It was unanimously a greedto takepreventive action against the "Council of Generals." During the nextfew weeks mee ting s were held at which they assessed the forces thatcould be won over to their side. However, in the mid dle of the monthboth SigitandWahjudi withdre w app arently becau se they were not confi-dentthat they could successfully commit thei r units to themovement.Later the question was r aised that there was no general among the move -ment leaders . As it was felt desirabl e to include a general,Sjampromised tocontact Brig. Gen. Supardjo, commander of theBattle Com-mand in Kalimantan. Sjam hadknown Supardjo since the late1950?sandregularly discussed polit ics with him. Through Supardj o?s wife he wascalled to Djakarta on September 28th. He was told that themovementwas aboutto commence andagreedtojoin it.During the next th ree weeks the movemen t's plans were finalized.According to Sjam, he drew up the list of "targets." In the originallist,apart from the six generals who were eventually ab ducted, andGeneral Nasution , who e scape d, there were also the former head ofArmyIntelligence,Bri g. Gen.Sukendro,the former Vice Pr eside nt, Dr Hat ta,and the Third Deputy Prime Ministe r, Chaerul Saleh. However Aidi t re-moved the names of Chaerul Saleh and Hatta from the list beca use hewanted the action to appear limitedto theArmy. Sukendro escapedbecausehe was a memb er of one of the Indonesian delegations in Pekingto celebrateChina's national day on October 1st. Sjam also said thathe and Aidit prepared the decree that was issued by the "September 30thMovement," and the list ofpeopleto be appointed to the newRevolu-tionary Council thatthemovement planned to establish.21The testimony of Sjam thus differed significantly in its implica-tions from that ofSudisman. In Sudism anfs version, the "progressive
officers" took the initiative and were supported by the PKI. InSjam'sversion , it was Aid it who took the ini tiative by instructing Sjamtoseek out likely dissident officers to carry out thePKI fsplan. Toge-therwith Aid it , Sjam prep ared the list of "targets" and the statementsissued by the mov emen t. The "progressive officers"played no independ-ent role. They were toolsin thehands of thePKI.
20. Parman was one of the generalskilledon October1st. Sakirmanwaskilledin1966.21. MysummaryofSjam'sversionis based on histestimonyat his own andSudismanfstrial.
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Despite contradictions between the three versions, they all pointto some involvement of the PKI. EvenNjono,despite his denial of theinvolvement of the PKI as a party, confirmed that the Politburo had atleast considered supporting theprogressive officers1*and that hehim-self had in fact supported them. If the President was likely to dieand the"Council ofGenerals11poised to swoop, as belie ved byNjono,it isquite credible that the PKI infact decided to join the "progres-sive officers1'asdescribedby Sudisman andPeris Pardede rather thanwait for thePresident to take action asdescribed byNjono. Itseemsparticularly improbable that Njono decid ed to help the "progressiveofficers"on his owni nitiativ e without informing his colleagues inthePolitburo. Thus it would appear that where the Njono and Sudisman-Peris Parde de version s contradict each other, the Sudisman-Peris Pardedeversion is themore reliable.The difference between Sudisman1s account and that of Sjam ismore difficult to resolve. Sjam fs version is not so much in contradic-tion with Su disman 1s as an extension of it. According to Sudisman,the PKIPolitburo decidedtoassist amovement already set inmotionby the "progressi ve officers." Sjam did not contradict this but addedthat it was the PKI fs Special Bureau that had set the "progressiveofficers" inmotion. Thus the crucial question concerns the degreetowhich the "progressive officers" act edautonomously. Were they mereagents of the PKI or did they have interestsandmotivations oftheirown?The evidence presented to theMahmillub trials does not in factprove that the officers involved in thecoup a ttem pt were acting asmere agents of the PKI. However, it is shown that atleast in Djakartathey were consciously acting in cooperation with some PKI members.The pattern of cooperation may well have been different in the twomain centers of acti vity , Djakarta and Central Java. The links of theDjakarta group of officers are documented more extensively than is thecase with the Central Java officers.InDjakarta the leaders of the coup attempt were Lt.Col.Untung,Col.L atief, Major (AirForce)Sujono and Brig ,Gen.Supardjo. Untung,Latief and Sujono had been involved in the planning from the beginning.It appears that Supardjo, who was stationed in Kalimant an, joined themat thelast momen t, although it seems certain thathe had been keptwell informed throughout. Untung and Latief were both former Dipone-goro officers. Untung had earlier become something of a nationalfigurewhenhe made the first parachute landing in West Irian in1962.InJanuary, 1965,he left the Diponegoro division to become a battalioncommander in the palace guard. Latief fsInfantryBrigade had origi-nally been part of the Diponegoro^divisionbefore its transfer toDja-karta inNovember,1963. Sujono,also aJavanese, was the commanderof the Air Base Defense Troops at Halim with the addit ional task oftraining civilia n volunteers since July,1965. Supardjo was born inCentral Javabut served in the Siliwangi division of West Java. InNovember,1964,he was appointed to head the Ba ttle Command in chargeof troops engaged in operations against Malaysia in Kalimantan.At his tria l, Sjam classified t he officers with whom the SpecialBureau nad made contact into two cate gori es, "sympathizers" and "candi-datemembers" of the party. While the trials indicated that Untung,Latief, Sujono a nd Supardjo were in contact with Special Bureaumem-bers, it was not demonstrated that they were more than mere "sympa-thizers" who were willing towork in cooperation with the PKI to
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achieve particular goals, such as the protection of PresidentSukarno.Athis trial, Untung strongly denied alle gations that he was tied tothe PKI,although he admitted that someofhis friends in his villa gein the 1950 fs had been communists and that he had been acquainted withsomePKI members sincethen.22 Similarly, Supardjo denied having con-nections with the PKI and in fact had taken part in the crushing ofthe PKI revo lt at Madiun in 1948. However, he admit ted that he hadmet Sjam in 1956 during operations to suppress the Lubis coup attempt.He said that he had only renewed contact with Sjamwhenhe heard rumorsabout the"Council ofGenerals." 23 Latieffsbackground ismuch lessclear, because he has never been brought to trial and was not evenper-mitted to appear personally as a witness before theMahmillub courtsuntil the Pono case inJanuary 1972,whenhe denied thathe was a PKImember. His testimo ny to earlier trials was always in writ ten formand did not provide much information about his politi caloutlook.21*Sujono fs links with the PKI may have been stronger becausehe was inchargeof thesecret training of"volunteers," nearlyall ofwhom wererecruited from PKI mass organizations. But,at the same time, hisantipathy toward theArmy leaderswas sharedbymanyAir Force officerswho had no links with the PKI. Thus,while it is of course possiblethat all of these officers were in fact committed supporters of thePKI, this was c ertainly not demonstrated in the Mahmillub trials.
Although it is not clear how close the ties were betwee n theseofficers and the PKIbefore August, 1965, it seems established thatthey were prep ared to work in close cooperation with representativesof the party in the prepa rations for the coup at tempt. According toSjamfs te stimony , Untung, Latief and Sujonowere approached in mi d-August by Pono andWalujo of the Special Bureau and agreed to join themovement. (In add iti on, Major Sigit and CaptainWahjudi originallyjoined but laterwithdrew.) They met as a group for the first time atWahjudifshouse onSeptember6thtogether with Sjam andPono. Theaccount ofUntung differs from thatof Sjam on thequestionof whotook the initia tive in calling the mee tin g, however. Untung told thecourt that he had heard of the plans of the "Council of Generals" tohold a coup and, as a memb er of the Tjakrabirawa entrusted with pro-tecting the Presiden t, had decided to form a movemen t to purge thedisloyal generals. He contacted Latief , and together they took theinitiative of calling themeeting.2 5 That Latief rather than Sjam orPono had taken the initiativewas suggestedby Sujono 1s testimony thatithadbeen Latiefwho invitedhim to themeeting. 26 Thus, Untunggave the im pression that he and Latief were the initiators of the mov e-ment. The main difficulty with this account is that the meeting wasattendedby Sjam andPono. Untung claimed thathe was not acquainted
22. Untungfs testimony at Untung trial. PerkaraUntung,pp.37-38,220.23. SupardjofstestimonyatSupardjotrial. Mahkamah Militer LuarBiasa,PerkaraBrig.Gen.Supardjo (Djakarta,1968--cyclostyled).24. W. F. Wertheim suggeststhatLatief was not permitted toappearincourt earlierbecauseof his meeting withMaj.Gen.Suhartoon theevening beforethecoupattempt. W. F.Wertheim,"Suhartoand theUntungCoup--TheMissingLink,"Jour-nalofContemporaryAsia,Vol.I, No. 2(Winter1970). His appearance at thePonotrialis reported in Kompas(Djakarta),January31,1972.25. Untungfs testimonyatUntungtrial. Perkara Untung, pp. 35, 36, 55, 58.26. SujonoatUntungtrial. Ibid.,p.102.
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with them before themeeting. 27 Unfortunately,he was not asked atthe trialhow Sjam and Pono happened to bepresent. According toWahjudi, inwhose house themeetingwasheld, Sjam and Pono arrived inthe company ofLatief.28 Both Wahjudi andSujono also claimed not toknowwho Sjam andPonowere.29
This evidence points toseveral possib le interpretations. First-ly, it isquit e pos sible that Untung, Sujono andWahjudi were lying.ByFebruary, when the trial was held, thePKIhad not only been blamedfor the coup attempt but also for almost all other ills in Indonesiansociety. Thus the officers appearing before the court had every reasontoconceal their associations with thePKI. It was bettertoemphasizethat theyhad actedaspatriots toprotectthe President from the"Councilof Generals" than to admit to having cooperated with the PKI.Secondly, it mayhave been that only Latiefhad close associationswith thePKI. Untung said thathe andLatief together took theinitia-tive inholding themeeting. According toSujono, it was Latief whoinvitedhim to attend the me eti ng, and Wahjudi said that Sjam and Ponoarrived in the company of Latief. Thus it is pos sib le thatSjam workedthrough Latief. Thirdly,itseems equally possible that it was Latiefwho tookthe initiativeinseekingthe supportof the PKI through Sjam.Latief mayhave invited Sjam andPono toattendthemeeting thatheand Untung had called. However, as Latief was not questioned in courtabout this meeting,his role remains somethingof amystery,30
Although Supardjo had been in contact with both Sjam and the otherdissidents for at least some months,his active involvement in themovement seems to have commenced at the last momen t. In Kalimantan hehad quickly cometo the conclusion that theArmy leaders were "sabo-taging11 Sukarno'spolicy of confrontation. According to his testimony,he was informed about the "Councilof Generals" by Latief in March,1965. He then contacted Sjam in thehope oflearning more. Althoughstationed in Kalimantan, he visi ted his family in Djakarta eachmonth,and at the same time took the opportunity of hearing about the latestdevelopments from Sjam. He also reported regularly to the Commanderof the Air Force,AirVice Marshal OmarDhani,about the discontentthat was growing in the Army well before thePKIs involvement com-menced in August. When Sjam told him in August that the"CouncilofGenerals" was planning a coup, Supardjo asked that he be notified ifthe situation in Djakarta became "critical." On September 28th hecame to Djakarta because one of his children was very ill. When hemet Sjam he was told that the moveme nt against the generals was abouttocommence. According to his story he agreed to join them on theevening of September 29th.3l However, it seems likely thathe had al-ready reached an understanding with Sjam and, probably, Latief that hewould support the movement.
27. Untung atUntungtrial. Ibid.,p. 57.28. Wahjudi at Untungtrial. Ibid.,p. 78.29. Ibid.,p. 79. Sujonoat Njonotrial. PerkaraNjono, p.208.30. I have not beenabletoconsultLatieffstestimonyat thePonotrialexceptforbrief newspaperreports.31. Supardjo'stestimony atSupardjotrialand Omar Dhani at Omar Dhani trial. PerkaraSupardjo,and MahkamahMiliterLuarBiasa,PerkaraOmarDhaniEx.LaksamanaMadyaUdaradalamperistiwa(Djakarta,1968--cyclostyled).
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The evidence presentedby the "progressiveofficers"confirms thatthe PKI was repres ent ed in the plot. However , it did not confirm theArmy's allegation that themilitaryofficers were simply agentsof thePKI. It seems quite likely that Untung and Latief had already beguntalking about theneed to oppose the"Council ofGenerals"before discussions were held with Sjam. Moreover, both Sujono and Supardjo appear to have had their own r easons for oppo sing a coup by the Armyleadership. It is o j course possible that members of the SpecialBureau had indoctrinated these officers so effectively that they wereprep ared to carry out the wish es of the party, but it seems more likelythat such indoctrin ation was unn ecess ary. If indeed it was the SpecialBureau onAidit s command which took the initiative, it seems morelikely that its function was to bri ng the disside nts togeth er ratherthan to provi de them with motivati on. It is also quite likely thatonce the PKI beca me involved , Sjam, acting asAidit s agent, played adecisive role. However, the evidence of the Sjam andUntun g trialsdoes not ruleout, and, infact,in the case of theUntungtrial,suggests the possi bilit y that Latief and Untung, perhaps together withSupardjo, had already commenced their own planning when they wereapproached by Sjam whom they invited to join them rather than the reverse.
The latter hypo thesi s gains in credibi lity when we consider the"September 30th Movement" in Central Java. In Central Java dissidentjunior officers deposed commanding officers in a series of coordinatedtakeovers including the Diponegoro Divisional Headquarters in Semarang,two of thedivisions three military resorts(i.e.,Salatiga andJogjakarta) and the 6th Infantry Brigade Headquarter s inSurakarta,while an attempted take over of the third military resort atPurwokertofailed. At the divisional headquarters in Semarang , the leaders ofthe movemen t were Col. Suherman, the Head of Intelligen ce, Col. Marjonoand Lt. Col. Usman. Followin g the collapse of the moveme nt, all threefled from Semarang with their supporters. They were captured in December and summarily executed. Thus they were not given an opportunityto explain their motivesand actions.
So far little evidence has bee n produced to show the extent andnature oftheir cooperation with thePKI. The small amount of information avai labl e about their backgrou nd s does not show that they had tieswith the PKI. In the case of Suherman , his positio n as Head of Intelligence and thefact thathe had only recently returned from atrainingcourse at Fort Worth in the USA suggest at least that no one suspectedhim of bein g a suppor ter of the PKI befo re the coup attempt. While itis possible that these officers and their associates in the districttowns were all"controlled"by thePKIt, no substantial evidence hasappeared to indicatethis. 32 The only important Diponegoroofficertobe tried was Major Muljono, who de posed the commander of the militaryresort in Jogjakarta and proclaimed himself as chairman of the localRevolution ary Council. Muljono admitte d tobeing asupporter of thePKI, and it was shown that he had a close relationship with a PKI member,Wirjomartono,who had the task of cultivating sympat hizers in theArmed Forces. However it was not demonstrated that Muljono was actingon Wirjomartono s instructions on Octob er 1st. It was at least aslikely that Muljono was taking orders from Suhermanand his colleagues
32. AccordingtoNugrohoNotosusanto,"thePartycontrolledhalfof thechiefswithintheRegionalMilitaryCommand's GeneralStaff." NugrohoNotossantoandIsmaelSaleh, The CoupAttempt,p. 43.
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in Semarang. At the trial it was shown that W i r jo m a r t o n o had sent amessage to Mljono at about 3 p. m . in which Muljono was advised to support the Revolutionary Council. However it was not until about 9p.m.that an announcement was broadcast in the n a m e of M u l j o n o as c o m m a n d e rof the local September 30th M o v e m e n t .
1 1 This fo llowed a telephonecall f r o m the divisional headquarters in Semarang at 7 p.m. in whichinstructions were conveyed to support the Revolutionary Council.3 3
T h e hypothesis that the officers in Central Java were acting independently of the P K I is strengthened by com parison with other regions.T h e coup m o v e m e n t had widespread and coo rdinated support throughoutCentral Java, but virtually no similar activity took place in otherregions where the PKI was strongsuch as East Java and North Sumatra.In the absence of evidence to show that the PKI did control Suhermanand his colleagues, it is reasonable to believe that they were actingfo r their own reasons. Possibly their motivation was as described inthe Cornell Paper, o r they may have had more specific grievances notonly against the A r m y leadership in Djakarta but in Central Java aswell. Most likely, they shared the widespread devotion to Sukarnofound a m o n g the people of Central and East Java and considered Nasutionand Yani to be disloyal. It seems certain that the PKIleaders inCentral Java, and especially the Special Bureau men, were aware of thediscontent within the division. Naturally they had an interest inassisting the dissidents, while the dissidents had no reason to refusetheir assistance. However, there is no proof that the PKI had a crucial influence on the decisions m a d e by these off icers.
W h a t were the links between the Diponegoro dissidents and them o v e m e n t in Djakarta? In the absence of satisfactory evidence one canonly speculate. Both Untung and Latief were former Diponegoro officersw h o were personally acquainted with the dissidents in Semarang. At onetime Untung had been a c o m p a n y c o m m a n d e r in Suherman1s battalion.After his appointment in Djakarta at the beginning of 1965, Untungm a d e twovisits to Central Java, the latter being when he accompaniedthe President in about August.31 * It seems likely that he met Suhermanduring this visit and discussed the question of the Council of Generals with him . Possibly Suherman had already decided to initiate somepreventive action. On his return to Djakarta Untung would have informed Latief of the plans being laid in Semarang. Meanwhile S j a m hadbeen ordered l ~ y Aidit to seek supporters for a movement. It islikely that S j a m was aware of the existence of a dissident group in
33. See Mul jono trial, especially M u l j o n o f s testimony and the testimony of MajorSurono Hartono who made the telephone call from Semarang. Mahkamah Militer LuarBiasa, Perkara ExMa _ M u l j o n o (Djakarta, 1968cyclostyled). A cco r d i ng toJ. M. van der K r o e f , W i r j o m a rtone's centrally directing role . . . seems overw h e l m i n g l y substantiated. J. M. van der K r o e f , Interpretations of the 1965Indonesian C o u p , Pacific Affairs, No. 4 ( W i n t e r 197071), p . 565. M y readingof the relevant trials does not bear this out. According to Notosusanto, W i r j o martono was the Special Bureau leader in Jogjakarta (Nugroho NotosusantoandI sm a e l Saleh, The Coup A t t e m p t , p. 45). However this .does not appear to havebeen conf i rmed at the W i r j o m a r t o n o trial. W i r j o m a r t o n o said that he contactedMajor Muljono on the instructions of S u d i j o n o , the Jogjakarta party secretary.As the Special Bureau operated independently of the party branches, it seemshighly i m p r o bable that W i r j o m a r t o n o was carryingout S j a m ' s instructions.R athe r he was actingon the information sent by Sudisman to the branches.
34. Captain K u n t j o r o f s testimony at Untung trial. Perkara Untung, p. 146.
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Central Java, so he contacted Untung and Latief who were known to havecontact with them. Thus it may be that the PKI bec ame involved in whatwas origin ally a moveme nt within the Diponegoro Division.The evidence of theMahmillb trials indicates that the purpose ofthe"coup at tempt" was toeliminate the"hawkish"leadership of theArmy, which was suspected of planning to move against both the President and the PKI. The evidence does not show that the "September 30thMovement" expect ed to domin ate the governmen t after October 1st, northat the PKI was drawn into the plot with themotive of enhancing itsposition in the government. Rather the"coup"was a preemptive strikeagainst theP K I fs most dangerous opponents. 3 5 If the PKI and its military associates had expected to take over or dominate the government,thekilling of the generals would not have matteredmuch,but as the
"coup"was essentially defensive in purpose, the murders were a disastrous mist ake. It seems that the news that at least some of thegenerals had been killed was a majo r factor in influencing Presiden tSukarno not to endorse the movemen t. Further, the murders made it impossible for the moveme nt to win the support or at least tolerance ofthe surviving Army leadership.There are strong indications in the trial evidence that theplotters did not plan to kill the generals. 3 6 Sj a m fs testimony on thispoint is som ewha t con tradi ctory . At his own trial he said that theaim had been to arrest the generals and hand them over to the Revolutionary Council which would"investigate"their plan tohold acoup. 37At the Sudis man trial , Sjam had told the same story but a few minuteslater said that at a meeti ng held on Septembe r 29th, he, Pono, Untung,Latief an d Sujono had d ecid ed to kill the generals. 3 8 Untung, at histrial, denied orderin g the killing of the gener als but he admittedhaving ordered Lt. Dul Arief, th;officer in charge of the soldierswho raided thegenerals 1 homes , to make sure that none of them escape d. 3 9 A numberofparticipants in the raids claimed that DulAriefhad ordered them to take the generals "dead oralive."1* 0 In the event,three of the generals, including Yani, resisted an d were killed attheir homes, while the others were bro ugh t alive to LobangBuaja atHalim. Accord ing to the officer in charge at Loba ng Buaja,Major (AirForce) Gatot Sukrisno, both he and Dul Arief were very agitated tofind that three of the generals had already "been put to sleep." DulArief wanted Gatot tokill the remaining three,but Gatot insisted onsendin g a note to Major Sujono, who rep lied that they should be
35. Thisview isalso put inNugroho Notosusanto an d IsmaelSaleh,TheCoupAttempt,p.9.
36. Pauker hassuggested "thatsomewhere downtheline a politicaloperationwasturnedintoacrude murderplot." G.Pauker,"TheGestapuAffairof1965,nSoutheastAsia,Vol.I, No. 1(Winter1971),pp.5556.
37. Sjam fstestimonyat Sjam trial.38. Sjamstestimony at Sudismantrial. MahkamahMiliterLuarBiasa,PerkaraSudis
man(Djakarta,1968cyclostyled).39. Untung'stestimonyatUntungtrial. PerkaraUntung, p. 59.40. See testimonies at theUntungtrial. Ibid.,pp. 123, 133, 135, 139.
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Minishedoff."41 According to Sujono, he hadmere ly transmittedLatief's order in his reply.1" 2 At the Sjam trial, Sjam said thathehimself had proposed that the remaining generals be shot and that theothers agreed to this. 1* 3The most likely resolution to these contradiction s is that duringthe Sudisman trial Sjam temporarily confused the date of the decisionto kill the generals when he said that it was made onSeptember 29th.Itmay be that on Sept emb er 29th the move men t leaders discussed thepossibility that some of the generals might resist arrest and the riskthat they migh t be killed. Neverthe less, it was decided to go aheaddespite the risk. As the order was tran smitte d down from the leadersto the men, it necess arily had to be put in more concrete terms. Whilethe leaders could airily talk of"securing11 mengamankan)the generals,themembersof theraiding p artieshad toknow exactlywhattodo in the event of difficulties. While Untung ordered DulArieftomake sure thatMnone escape,11 DulAriefbluntly told his troops to
get them dead oralive." However, itseems that no one expected thatas many as three, including Yani, would indeed be dead on arrival atLubang Buaja. This explains the consternation of Gatot Sukrisno andDulArief. As leader of the troops respon sible foi killing the threegenerals, DulAriefwan ted Gatot to kill the other three so that responsibility might be shared. When Ga to t fs note reached the movementleaders, they apparently decided that there was now nothing to losefrom killing the other three. Proba bly they had begun to panic onhearing that Nasution had escaped and Yani had been killed.
What might have happened if thecoup attempt"had been carriedout according to plan ? If the gen erals , including Nasution, had allbeen arrested an d accused of plotting against the President, it isplausible to beli eve that the Presi dent would have endorsed the"September 30th Movement s"action. With Presidential endorsement itwould have been very difficult for the remaining Army leadership tomove against the dissidents. Most likely the matter would have beensettled in the traditional style ofmusjawarah (consultations) leadingto a compromise which weakened the"hawks"in the Army leadership without reversing its fundamentally anti commun ist outlook. PossiblySukarno would have insisted on the dismissal of Yani and some of hiscolleagues. However, it is unlikely that he would have been able toimpose a procommunist commander on the Army. Such anappointmentwould not have been accepted by the most senior officers in directcommand of troops such as Suharto (Strategic Reserve Command),UmarWirahadikusumah (Djakarta),Adjie (WestJava),Basuki Rachmat(EastJava)and Mokoginta (Sumatra), all of whom were strongly an ticommunist. Thus the "September 30th incident"was infact not somuch a
41. Gatot Sukrisnofstestimonyat theUntungtrial. Ibid., pp.6869.42. Sujonostestimony atUntungtrial. Ibid., pp.9697.43. Sjam at Sjamtrial.44. Referring to anearlierplot, Andersonnotedthat"Itmustberecognized,however, thatinJavanese social communication, much is commonlyleft unsaid,greattrustbeingput inintuitiveunderstanding;thispattern,while sharpening subtlesensibilities,frequentlyleads toconfusionandmisunderstanding."Benedict R. Anderson, Java in aTimeofRevolution (Ithaca: CornellUniversityPress,1972),p.396.
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"coup"against the government but an attempt toforce Sukarno's handwithin the existing governmental structure.In this article Ihave arg ued th at the testimony presented to theMahmi llub trials is open to more than one interpretation. While theevidenc e that the PKI leaders were in deed deeply in volved in the coupattem pt seems overwhe lmin gly strong, conclusions commonly drawn on thebasis of the trial evidence in regar d to the nature of its involvementan d its mot ives seem open to question. The trial evidence infactsuggests that it is quite likely that the idea topurge the top Armyleaders originated among midd lel evel officers in the Diponegoro Division and their colleagues in Djakarta. The Ar my s claim that it wasthe PKI, throughSjam,which initiated the movement is not proven inthe trials. The P K I fs involvement only commenced when Aidit becameconvinced that the delicate balance of Djakarta politics was in dangerof bei ng upset by the demise of the President. While Sjam may haveplaye d a domin ant role in formulating themovement's plans in Djakarta,there is little to show that the PKI fs influence was substantial inCentral Java. The basic aim of the move men t was to arrest the generalswhowere believedto be plotting against the President, in thehopethat he would then be able to take action against them.
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