Historians say at least a half-million people were killed in violence that began in October 1965, after suspected communists killed six generals in an attempted coup against then president Sukarno.Successive governments have refused to apologise or accept that death toll.JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's military elite are openly stoking public anxiety about communism, gays and other "foreign influences", a drive critics say is aimed at seizing a greater role in civilian affairs of the world's third-largest democracy.However, the military's crackdown on suspected communist activity and ambitions to create a massive civilian defence force are beginning to create unease within President Joko Widodo's administration.Armed Forces spokesman Tatang Sulaiman said the military is working within the law."If we find groups spreading communist ideology..materials that can influence the thinking of the public, then we will act according to the law. The crackdown has coincided with Widodo's order for an investigation into an anti-communist purge of 1965, a move that irked some within the military elite."We protested because military soldiers cannot arrest, interrogate and confiscate property of civilians." A local military spokesman declined to comment on the detentions.
Under Widodo, the military has joined the nation's fight against drugs, terrorism and corruption, areas previously reserved for the police.
But a line was crossed this month when soldiers briefly detained two student activists in eastern Indonesia for wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with a picture of a hammer and sickle inside a coffee cup.
Widodo last week publicly rebuked the military after it detained a handful of Indonesians suspected of spreading communist ideology, the first public resistance by the president to the military's growing influence in everyday life.
"The president has firmly and clearly told the military and police chiefs to bring their forces to order," Cabinet Secretary and presidential aide Pramono Anung told reporters.
It was the latest in a string of military and police raids against suspected left-wing radicals.
"The reason the local military command gave (for the detentions) was that the men were spreading communism through T-shirts," said Abdon Nababan, head of the organisation to which the two activists in North Maluku province belong.