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TNI denies communist agenda behind Soeharto statue removal

Jakarta Post - September 30, 2021

Gisela Swaragita, Jakarta – The Dharma Bhakti Museum of the Army Strategic Command (Museum Kostrad) has recently received more attention than it is used to after former Army general, Gatot Nurmantyo, mentioned that several statues had been removed from the building.

The removed statues were of military figures Lieut. Gen. Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, Gen. AH Nasution, and Maj. Gen. and former president Soeharto. The three were key figures during the abortive coup d'etat of Sept. 30, 1965 when six other generals were abducted and killed, allegedly by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The removed statues were originally placed in a diorama that narrated the story of how the three figures planned their strategy to defeat the coup.

"There is an infiltration [of PKI ideology] within the Indonesian Military [TNI]. On this occasion I want to invoke the patriotic spirit and unity of the TNI's Army, Navy and Air Force," Gatot said during a YouTube discussion entitled "TNI vs PKI" on Kang Jana Tea's YouTube channel on Sept. 26.

Gatot said that the removal of the three statues showed that Indonesia was now taking a sharp turn, which could lead the nation to jumping into the "ravine of destruction".

The 1965 attempted coup was a turning point in the history of Indonesia. Since then the communist ideology has been banned from the country. Indonesia's first president, Soekarno, was overthrown after being in power for 20 years, and replaced by Soeharto to augur in the New Order era, when Soeharto sat as president for 32 years.

Responding to the issue, Army Strategic Command (Pangkostrad) chief Lieut. Gen. Dudung Abdurachman denied the allegation that the TNI was now infiltrated by the communist ideology.

He said the statues were removed at the request of former Pangkostrad chief Lieut. Gen. Azym Yusri Nasution, who commissioned the statues during his years in office in 2011-2012. The former Pangkostrad chief's current religious beliefs mean he is now uncomfortable with such images.

"I appreciate his personal feelings, that his current religious beliefs mean that he is remorseful for having commissioned the statues. So I could not refuse his request," Dudung said in a press release on Tuesday. Dudung met with Azmyn on Aug. 30 and the statues were then removed immediately. Dudung denied that the removal was motivated by a communist agenda.

The museum, which is located on Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur, Central Jakarta, originated as a commissioner's office during the Dutch colonial era. The heritage building, which was built in 1870, was used by Soeharto as his office during his time as the first Pangkostrad chief in 1961. It served as the Pangkostrad headquarters until 1981 when Lieut. Gen. Rudini, the 12th Pangkostrad chief, repurposed the building as a museum. Soeharto officially opened the museum in 1997.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2021/09/30/tni-denies-communist-agenda-behind-soeharto-statue-removal.htm