Thousands of people have staged a protest rally in Indonesia’s capital to express alarm at what they say is a growing threat from the spread of communism in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
The protesters gathered outside Indonesia’s parliament in Jakarta on Friday, chanting slogans and holding banners that rejected communism and slammed a government decree targeting large organizations that was used to disband the Hizb ut-Tahrir group in the Southeast Asian country.
The rally was peaceful, but rows of police forces stood behind barbed wire with water cannons at the ready.
“The country is giving space to communists and their activities,” said Mohamad Khairudin, a 42-year-old protester. “Members of parliament have communist sympathies. And at the same time they are limiting space for Islamic organizations and criminalizing ulama (scholars).”
The Friday protest took place on the eve of the 52nd anniversary of the murder of six army generals and a young lieutenant by rebel armed forces, which prompted the retaliatory slaughter of at least 500,000 alleged communists.
This comes as Indonesia’s Communist Party (PKI), once one of the world’s largest, appears to be reviving Marxism in Indonesia.
In a September 2016 survey, 12 percent of some 1,220 Indonesian respondents said they believed the party was making a comeback.
“We support parliament in ridding itself of PKI,” Slamet Maarif, one of the organizers of the Friday rally told the crowd, accusing the government of oppressive measures and of creating a rift between the state and Islam with a decree banning some organizations.
Analysts and government advisers maintain that fomenting a “red scare” is aimed at Indonesia’s reformist President Joko Widodo, who has previously been falsely accused of being a descendant of communists.