The stigma of communism remains incredibly strong in Indonesia. Forget the government ever recognizing the 1965 massacres in Indonesia, in which 500 thousand to 1 million are believed to have died under the pretense of an anti-communist purge; people in Indonesia can still get in trouble just for selling communism-related memorabilia.
Yesterday, the Kebayoran Baru Police arrested a store owner in Blok M and his employee for selling t-shirts containing the hammer and sickle logo, which was adopted by communist organizations around the world, including the long-prohibited Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
But here’s where their arrest gets really ridiculous: the clothing in question was actually just t-shirts of German thrash metal band Kreator, which just happened to feature the hammer and sickle logo. For that reason, the police admitted that the suspects may not have been trying to spread communist propaganda.
“At the moment they’re just being questioned. There is no indication of treason. According to the suspects, they didn’t know it was the PKI symbol [on the t-shirts],” said Kebayoran Baru Police Chief Ary Purwanto, as quoted by Detik today.
Well, we hope that the suspects are released soon because “treason” is a pretty heavy accusation for people selling band t-shirts.
Anti-communist sentiment is still strong in Indonesia. Last month, a couple of thugs were filmed violently assaulting a motorist for wearing a communist pin while a police officer watched and did nothing.
The widely held belief in the Indonesian society that communism is taboo and evil may just be the reason why the government can continue to refuse to recognize, let alone apologize, for the 1965 anti-communist purge in which 500 thousand to 1 million suspected communists and their sympathizers perished in mass killings.