Members of Islamist groups are planning to show up in the thousands in Jakarta on Friday (29/09) to demonstrate against what they believe to be the rise of communism in Indonesia.
Tensions over the unsettled anti-communist purge of 1965 resurfaced recently as activists pushed efforts to advocate for the rights of victims and their families.
But those doing so have increasingly been accused by nationalists and Islamists of supporting communism, which is banned in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
Islamist groups, which have been gaining ground since late last year, claim that indications of the rise of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) have been “more and more obvious.”
Among them are “pro-PKI” seminars and workshops that have increasingly been held by human rights activists, protest leader Slamet Maarif said.
“And the government appears to be slightly throwing a lifeline to them,” he told reporters in Jakarta on Wednesday.
About 50,000 people from the capital and surrounding cities are expected to join the protest, which will coalesce in front of the national legislative complex in South Jakarta.
“If the PKI ban is eventually revoked, for sure they will face the Muslim community,” said Slamet, who is also the spokesman for the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
Authorities have said they will deploy nearly 20,000 police and military personnel to safeguard Friday’s protest.
About 5,000 officers of the police’s Mobile Brigade from several regions have also been sent to the capital to help with security, Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Idham Azis told reporters on Tuesday.
Public debate over the anti-communist purge of 1965 and ways to provide reconciliation to victims and their families have been in the spotlight for years.
The government-sponsored and military-backed killings resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of alleged PKI sympathizers and saw millions more jailed without trial.
The administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has repeatedly said it has been seeking ways to settle the case, but activists say that plan is going nowhere.