Sat, 01 Oct 1994

Former student leaders deny fresh allegations of CIA link

JAKARTA (JP): A group of former student leaders who played a pivotal role in toppling president Sukarno in 1966 denied yesterday fresh allegations that they were paid by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to take to the streets.

Ikatan Keluarga Besar Laskar Ampera Arief Rachman Hakim, an association of student activists in the mid 1960s, announced their intention to sue columnist Manai Sophiaan for making the allegation in his new book about Sukarno published this month.

The association said it was offended by the allegation, which was also reprinted in the latest edition of Tiara magazine.

"Manai slanders the student activists of 1966," association chairman Djusril Jusan told a press conference to announce the plan yesterday.

The latest threat came less than a week after former student activists grouped in Posko 66 announced a similar plan for the same allegation.

It is a "by-product" of the glowing controversy Manai has sparked with his book, Kehormatan Bagi yang Berhak (Honor for the One who Deserves It), in which he argues that Sukarno was not involved in the Sept. 30, 1965 coup attempt as widely believed.

The coup, blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), was foiled the following day by the Army then led by a young Major General Soeharto. But six generals who were abducted the night of Sept. 30, 1965 by the coup perpetrators were brutally murdered.

Manai was ambassador to Moscow between 1964 and 1967 when Sukarno, condemned by his rivals for not liquidating the PKI for its coup attempt, was facing political crisis. This eventually lead to his downfall in 1967 and to the rise of Soeharto, the current president.

The 80 year old former diplomat appears ready to defend his book in court as he has appointed a team of lawyers. Purbadi, Nusyirwan Thabrani and Tambunan will defend him, according to his spokesman Ki Utomo Darmadi.

Manai also welcomes any proposal to hold dialog with him concerning the circumstances surrounding the events in 1965 and 1966.

Through court action, Laskar Ampera also means to "straighten- out" the comments Manai made in the interview claiming that the New Order government under President Soeharto was "just the same" as the old one under Sukarno.

It also hopes to correct Manai's support of Sukarno's thesis saying that the nation needed an alliance of nationalist, religious and communist groups to survive.

"Does he (Manai) defend Sukarno or PKI?" asked Jusan, from Indonesian Christian University and former activist of the Islamic Students Association (HMI).

He alleged that Manai was a defender of Subandrio, Sukarno's foreign minister who was implicated for communist activity and is spending the rest of his life behind bars.


Manai was also quoted in the magazine interview saying that the yellow jackets worn by student demonstrators from the University of Indonesia were imported from Hawaii.

Yesterday's press conference broke into an open debate with journalists, mostly the younger ones who did not experience the bitter days of the 1960s, sympathizing with Manai and questioning Laskar Ampera's reasoning.

"Why not write a book of your own version of the event instead of solving the academic problem in court?" shouted a journalist.

Others proposed that the former activists and Manai discuss their different views amicably, with each bringing supporting evidence.

On the second proposal, Jusan said he would hold a dialog with Manai but would go ahead with his plan to bring the case to court if the writer failed to come up with sufficient evidence.

Acknowledging that he had not read the disputed book, he said Laskar Ampera also wanted to write its own account of the events surrounding the coup attempt.

He denied accusations that the motive behind Laskar Ampera's plan to sue Manai was publicity to lift its standing rather than anything else. (pan)