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Thousands attend anniversary of Sukarno

Kompas - June 21, 1998 (slightly abridged)

Blitar – Thousands of people were jostling at the front yard of the late Mrs S Wardojo, the older sister of Bung Karno with the same mother, at Jl Sultan Agung No. 53 Kodya Blitar, Saturday evening (20/6). They came from various places of Indonesia to witness the 28th commemoration of the passing away (Haul) of the first President of the RI, Ir Soekarno, which was attended by some of his daughters, Megawati Soekarnoputri, Rahmawati, Sukmawati, a prominent of the society, Roeslan Abdulgani, the paranormal Permadi, functionaries of the Central Board of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) Haryanto Taslam, Soetardjo Soerjoguritno and a prominent of a non government organization (LSM) Desmond J Mahesa.

Megawati, who first didn't want to be scheduled to give a speech for the public, giving in to the urging of the mass, finally appeared at 22.50, a moment before the reading of the closing prayer. But before, at 20.00, Rahmawati Soekarnoputri gave a speech of half an hour, warmly applauded by the mass.

Megawati who talked briefly asked the PDI members who kept Bung Karno's spirit in their heart, to uphold the nation's unity and integrity. Mega asked to her supporters: "When the mass riots took place, the burning of shops, the murders and the rapes on own people on the last middle of May, is the spirit of PDI people of that kind?" The mass answered at once: "No."

"The difficulties which happen now are impossible to be evaded, we can however find a way out from these difficulties if we have Bung Karno's spirit which appreciates the nation's unity and integrity without favoritism for a certain group or category," she stressed which was answered with yells from her supporters.

In her speech Rahmawati urged the government to remove the legal products of the Provisory Parliament which had caused violations of human rights and made that Bung Karno ended his life as a political prisoner. She urged the government to annul MPRS Stipulations No. 36 and No. 37 which arrested Bung Karno. "Those MPRS Stipulations were exactly implemented on a person who his whole life had fought for freedom of the nation," said Rahmawati which was followed with shouts of approval from the mass.

Mega instructed to the PDI members to remain orderly in guarding peace, after the Haul ended. Not one PDI member was allowed to perform destruction or plundering which could damage the nation's unity and integrity.

The Haul could according to people who admitted that they had often come to witness the ceremony of the former years, this time be called a Haul which was most attended by the citizens. "This is the most extraordinary Haul of Father which I ever saw," said Sutarni (30s) from Papar, Kediri, who sold old newspapers to be used to sit on.

A woman from the village of Bendogerit, District Sananwetan, the location of Bung Karno's grave, who sold Bung Karno's pictures, admitted that she never had witnessed an Haul like now. "Usually in the afternoon, at the climax of the ceremony it starts to become lively," she said smiling, because that evening here pictures of Bung Karno were selling well.

The arrival of citizens from various cities was evident from the traffic of busses, trucks and various vehicles with licence plates from cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Cirebon, Surabaya, even Denpasar. Among them there were groups which admitted to come from Palangkaraya and Banjarmasin. With paper or banners they stated that they were Haul participants. Tens of students used the jackets of their almamater. The Chairman from the PDI from the Jombang Regency, Samsul Haryanto said that they departed with 30 trucks and three busses.

Many identified themselves as PDI Pro Mega supporters with all kinds of attributes like T shirts, headbands, PDI flags and banners containing support for Megawati Soekarnoputri. Their presence was mixed with citizens with the flag and shirts of the Indonesian Nationalist Party of the Old Order. They slept at the porches of the shops, erected a tent at Kebonrojo garden, not far from the grave, or erected a tent near Bung Karno's grave.

From Bandung was reported that after the 28th Haul commemoration of Bung Karno, in Ciwidey, Bandung Regency, hundreds of pro-Mega PDI masses went in convoy to the office of PDI West Java Branch at Jl By Pass Soekarno-Hatta. The office which all this time had a status quo because it was occupied by the PDI Soerjadi version was immediately put with pictures of Megawati at the front wall and banners supporting Megawati.

The action which went orderly also claimed the PDI management under Muchtar Budiana as constitutional and regarded Idi Siswaya as the illegal PDI leadership.

Besides supporting Megawati the mass also demanded that the prominents considered responsible for the 27 July riots, to step down from their function, among others the Minister of Home Affairs Syarwan Hamid (former ABRI's Chief of Staff for socio politics) and the Coordinating Minister for Police and Security Feisal Tanjung (former Armed Forces Commander).