Soon after the gloomy incident of September 30, 1965 Movement (G30S), Indonesian military and political powers were seemingly torn into two camps namely those who sided with Soekarno and those who against Communist Party (PKI) and, thus, confronted with Soekarno who backed it up. Bloody confrontation between them could break out anytime.
At that time, issues and slanders spread out disseminating that the Army intended to coup the President. In attacking the G30S Movement, the Army always avoided directly criticizing Sukarno. For example, in the evening of October 1st Soeharto said:”… under the full support of our people, the G30S Movement will certainly be destroyed and the Republic of Indonesia based on Pancasila would remain victorious under the leadership of President Sukarno.”
It seemed that the two camps that were hostile to each other, both claimed that they were the supporters of Sukarno. However, a drastic change happened when the students who used to hold large-scale demonstrations began to openly criticizing Bung Karno.
Under the flagship of KAMI (United of Indonesian Student Actions) formed in late October 1965, the students intensely held demos demanding Tritura (three public demands): disband PKI, lower prices of basic commodities and restructure 100-Cabinet Ministers.
On January 15th, 1966, at the peak of the student rallies, Soekarno delivered a very tough speech: “I will not retreat even an inch. I am still the Great Leader of the Revolution. Come on. Those who need Sukarno, the Great Leader of the Revolution, unite all your strength and stand behind me. Wait for my command!!”
Soekarno’s fiery speech worried many people as he still had a lot of fanatic supporters. His long struggle against the Dutch colonial, made Soekarno very popular before the eyes of the people. Many people expressed their obedience through their slogan: “live and die with Soekarno”. Indonesia was in the brink of a great upheaval.
Following Soekarno’s command, Soebandrio – the Deputy Prime Minister – established Soekarno Force (Barisan Soekarno) which goal was to defend the President from the opposing camps. He loudly stated that ” terror should be countered by terror”. The force was strengthened as the National Front joined Sukarno Force.
The Mariner (KKO) and part of the Air Force units openly supported Soekarno. Even General Hartono, KKO Chief of Staff, conveyed a strong warning: “We are subject to whatever Soekarno’s orders. When Soekarno says black, so black KKO says, and red does Soekarno say, so red KKO says.”
The long-awaited necessary command to launch the counterattack never came out of Soekarno’s lips. The danger of bloodshed, between supporters and anti Soekarno finally faded away and the supports from his followers were getting weaker. The massive student movement backed up by the Army, pushed Soekarno’s camp into the corner.
In such worst situation, Soekarno still cared about the unity of his nation. He didn’t want to ruin the country he loved and had painstakingly let to its independence. Had Soekarno delivered his command, his fanatic followers, not mention the Mariner and the Air Force, would launch a counterattack against the students and the Army who backed up their movement.
Soekarno was eventually detained at Bogor Palace after being stripped of all his presidential power in March 1967 and then to the house of Dewi, one of his wives, until his death on June 21st, 1970. Soeharto who had been inaugurated as the Acting President, then following the general election held in 1973, was definitely installed as president, which paved ways for his long-lasting leadership.
Despite his political blunder in around 1965, Soekarno was declared by President Soeharto, stipulated in the Presidential Decree No 08/TK/1986, as a national hero, among other because of his strong determination during his difficult times in the latest years of his life to avoid bloodshed that could tear apart the country.
Soekarno certainly deserved to receive that honor.