Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Obituary The Last Witness of the Catastrophic 1965 Revolt (and coup) which brought Suharto to Power

Indonesia Tempo Magazine

Participant of the G30S incident, air force Lt. Col. Heru Atmodjo passed away. He denied allegations of the Indonesian Air Force special intelligence operations.
The last witness of the September 30 Movement or G30S incident is now gone.

Lieutenant-Colonel Heru Atmodjo, an air force pilot born in Jember in 1929, was Assistant Director of Indonesian Air Force (AURI) Intelligence Production when the tragic incident broke out. He followed the development of the event, which was to have a long-lasting impact on the nation, from one day before it happened, on the D-day, until several days afterwards. He was an ‘eyewitness’ of the movement. He passed away on January 29, 2011 and was buried at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery, Jakarta. Heru was ordered by his superior to pick up Brig. Gen. Soepardjo from the Palace and take him to Halim Perdanakusuma by helicopter to see President Sukarno. He then escorted Soepardjo to meet with Lt. Col. Untung and friends. During his 15 years in detention, Heru also communicated with other high-profile political detainees, including Soepardjo himself. It means that the information he had was first-hand information.

A Dutch researcher, Coen Holtzapzappel, alleged Heru Atmodjo and “AURI’s special intelligence operations” were involved in the G30S incident. Heru was even accused of “supplying weapons, trucks and money” to the movement. Sjam, in the meantime, was called “probably an AURI officer.” Heru consistently denied Holtzappel’s allegations. He even met with Coen Holtzappel in Holland for a heated debate. During the trial of Lt. Col. Untung at the Extraordinary Military Court (Mahmilub), Heru, also a witness in the case, was identified as one of the persons who signed the decree on the establishment of the Revolution Council. But in the evening of the day he signed the decree, Heru asked for his signature to be removed after he learnt that it was for a counterrevolutionary movement. But the document was not found as, according to Pono, it was already burnt.

Does the authentic document on the decree issued by Untung still exist? And where is it kept? Furthermore, why was Heru’s name written as just Heru in the Revolution Council lineup, while there were so many Herus in AURI? Was it just the carelessness of the typist or was it because the name was put there without the knowledge of the person concerned? In another Mahmilub trial of Njono, Major Soejono as a witness said that he reported to his boss, namely Heru Atmodjo. But in fact, although structurally he was of a higher rank, Heru was not Soejono’s supervisor. Lt. Col. Heru Atmodjo was the Assistant Director of Intelligence Production, while Major Soejono was the Regiment Commander of the Air Force Defense Base. The testimonies of Heru and Soejono overlapped, which was also acknowledged by Wertheim. This could be understood as the techniques used by investigators to dig up information.

Heru Atmodjo’s assessment on what happened at Halim Perdanakusuma on October 1, 1965 was very sharp. If only President Sukarno had immediately taken over the supreme command of the Armed Forces without appointing an army caretaker, and then taken resolute actions (including dismissing Major-General Suharto who refused to come to Halim), the situation would probably have been different. In John Roosa’s book Pretext for Mass Murder, Heru revealed that actually the leader of the G30S movement was not Lt. Col. Untung, but Sjam Kamaruzaman. Those who kidnapped the generals and planned to bring them to President Sukarno as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) included military as well as civilian elements (Indonesian Communist Party special bureau).

Sjam was the adhesive and determinant between the two elements. When their scenario failed (some of the generals were shot and President Sukarno ordered to end the action), the fallout between the two occurred. Consequently it was just a matter of hours or days before they were wiped out. Saturday, January 29, 2011 Heru Atmodjo was laid to rest at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery as a holder of the Guerilla Star. As a member of the Student Soldiers of the Republic of Indonesia, he fought in East Java after the declaration of independence.

According to the Law on Titles, Decorations and Distinctions of Honor, only national heroes and holders of the Star of the Republic of Indonesia and Mahaputra Star titles have the right to be buried at the main heroes cemetery. But after the Indonesian Veterans Legion met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Jakarta Garrison now allows holders of the Guerilla Star to be buried at the Kalibata cemetery.
By Asvi Warman Adam (LIPI historian)

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