Posted by: mel | January 2, 2010

Thousands flock to Gus Dur’s grave to pay homage

Jakarta Post | Indra Harsaputra,  Jombang, East Java  | The Archipelago | 2 January 2010

After queuing for the whole day on Friday, Suharmono of Blitar, East Java, was finally able to pay homage to former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid.

“I left my business and missed my nap today just to come here. He is a respected ulema, a national guru who was capable of embracing all groups of society and did not consider communism a taboo,” said Suharmono who is a former political prisoner of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

Although the burial was held on Thursday, thousands were still flocking to the grave of Indonesia’s fourth president at the Maqbarah family cemetery in the compound of the Tebuireng Islamic boarding school in Diwek district, Jombang regency, East Java.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially led the burial of Gus Dur, who passed away on Wednesday evening at the Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Jakarta.

Apart from a number of Cabinet ministers and other top government officials, politicians, pro-democracy activists, former PKI political prisoners and people from the Indonesian-Chinese community attended the burial.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Yudhoyono said that Gus Dur was the father of pluralism and multiculturalism as shown by his policies that ended all forms of discrimination in the country.

“Gus Dur’s thoughts have inspired many to nurture democracy,” he said.

Many, including Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin acknowledged that despite his many controversial ideas, Gus Dur had contributed a great deal to the development of democracy and pluralism in the country.

One of his noted policies included the withdrawal of a 1967 government regulation banning Chinese cultural activities in public spaces. He also acknowledged Confucianism as a religion and made Chinese New Year a national holiday.

Gus Dur’s struggles for the rights of minority groups made him a widely respected figure and many from the Indonesian-Chinese community attended his funeral.

Sidharta Adhimulya, a representative of the Surabaya Chinese descent community, said that hundreds from his community had deliberately traveled to Jombang from the East Java’s provincial capital of Surabaya to pay homage to the respected figure.

“This is not just the grief of members and supporters of Nahdlatul Ulama, but of all Indonesians,” said Sidharta, referring to one of the country’s biggest Muslim organizations that Gus Dur once chaired.

“Gus Dur is like the father of the Indonesian nation to us. He does not just belong to one group,” he added.

Hanjono Tanzah of Tuban, East Java, said that hundreds from the Chinese-descent community would join a mass prayer at the Kwan Sing Bio Temple in Tuban.

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