Police find men behind Jokowi 'apology'

Rumours online said he was going to say sorry for alleged massacre in 1965

JAKARTA • Indonesian police say they have identified the men behind a rumour that President Joko Widodo was going to offer an official apology to the families of the members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) for an alleged massacre in 1965.

National Police deputy chief, Commissioner-General Budi Gunawan, said several people were involved in spreading the rumour through social media and viral messages.

"We have identified the slanderer," he was quoted as saying by Indonesian news website kompas.com.

Mr Joko confirmed that the government had "no intention to issue an apology" for the mass killings "at this point," reported Jakarta Globe newspaper.

Six army generals and a captain were killed in what the armed forces said was an attempted coup by the PKI against then president Sukarno on Sept 30, 1965.

Following the failed coup, at least 500,000 people were killed in an anti-communist purge, according to human rights activists. They say thousands more were imprisoned illegally, tortured or subjected to forced disappearance, reported The Jakarta Post.

After a ceremony commemorating Pancasila Efficacy Day on Thursday, which marks the Indonesian army's success in restoring order after the alleged coup, Mr Joko reminded the nation not to let history repeat itself.

"We must be vigilant; don't lose our guard and let the incident happen again," he told reporters.

It was unclear whether he was referring to the killing of the top military officers or the ensuing crackdown, according to the Globe.

Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, two of the biggest Islamic groups in Indonesia, have denounced attempts to apologise for the alleged massacre.

Politicians from former president Suharto's Golkar party and officials from the PPAD, the military's biggest veterans' association, also said the government should not apologise, said the Globe.

Mr Joko, who took office last year amid high hopes from the public that he would address past human rights cases, has formed a committee to seek reconciliation for gross human rights violations involving the military.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said on Wednesday that although the government will not apologise to the PKI, it is ready to acknowledge that many innocent lives were lost in the crackdown, including teachers, writers, labour unionists, women activists and artists.

Much of what happened in 1965 is still shrouded in mystery.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline 'Police find men behind Jokowi 'apology''. Print Edition | Subscribe