Sat, 01 Apr 2000

Gus Dur holds firm on lifting communist ban

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid repeated his demand on Friday that the ban on communism and Marxism be lifted on the grounds that it had often been abused to suppress people's political rights.

Speaking in a dialog after Friday prayers at the Al Munawaroh Mosque near his residence in Ciganjur, South Jakarta, the President said he was firm in his opinion that the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly (MPRS) decree No. 25, issued in 1966, should be revoked, because it mixed up political rights with legal rights.

"I ask for the cancellation of the decree, not because of its political stance, but to prevent us from violating other people's legal rights just because we are upset with them. This is not the way a Muslim behaves," said the President.

The decree was the legal basis to dissolve the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), which was accused of masterminding an abortive coup in 1965.

Abdurrahman sparked an uproar last month when he gave the green light to an investigation into the coup attempt, which was followed by the massacre of hundreds of thousands of alleged communists and their sympathizers.

The President said many of the victims were innocent and executed without trial. He said it was very unjust that the children of former PKI members should suffer for their parents' actions.

Educating people about the threat of communism, instead of conducting unlawful and inhumane practices, is the best way to prevent the spread of communism, he said.

The President said the 1945 Constitution itself says nothing about a ban on communism.

"The decree was merely endorsed by someone who was afraid of being branded as a PKI person," said the President.

Meanwhile, Palace officials announced on Friday the President would undergo routine medical treatment at the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital on Saturday.

"This medical checkup is a follow up to his previous health examinations," the Palace statement said. (prb)