and the Dutch Empire
, and an internal social revolution
. It took place between Indonesia's declaration of independence
in 1945 and the Netherlands
' recognition of Indonesia's independence in 1949.
One of the largest revolutions of the twentieth century, the struggle lasted for over four years and involved sporadic but bloody armed conflict, internal Indonesian political and communal upheavals, and two major international diplomatic interventions. Dutch forces were not able to prevail over the Indonesians, but were strong enough to resist being expelled. Although Dutch forces could control the towns and cities in Republican heartlands on Java
, they could not control villages and the countryside. Thus, the Republic of Indonesia ultimately prevailed as much through international diplomacy as it did through Indonesian determination in the armed conflicts on Java and other islands.
The revolution destroyed the colonial administration of the Dutch East Indies
which had ruled from the other side of the world. It also significantly changed racial castes, as well as reducing the power of many of the local rulers (raja
). It did not significantly improve the economic or political fortune of the majority of the population, though a few Indonesians were able to gain a larger role in commerce.
BackgroundIndonesian nationalism and movements supporting independence from Dutch colonialism, such as Budi Utomo
, the Indonesian National Party
(PNI), Sarekat Islam
, and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), grew rapidly in the first half of the twentieth century. Budi Utomo, Sarekat Islam and others pursued strategies of co-operation by joining the Dutch initiated Volksraad ("People's Council") in the hope that Indonesia would be granted self-rule. Others chose a non-cooperative strategy demanding the freedom of self-government from the Dutch East Indies colony. The most notable of these leaders were Sukarno
and Mohammad Hatta
, two students and nationalist leaders who had benefited from the educational reforms of the Dutch Ethical Policy
The occupation of Indonesia by Japan
for three and a half years during World War II was a crucial factor in the subsequent revolution. The Netherlands, under German occupation, had little ability to defend its colony against the Japanese army
, and within only three months of their initial attacks, the Japanese had occupied the Dutch East Indies. In Java, and to a lesser extent in Sumatra (Indonesia's two dominant islands), the Japanese spread and encouraged nationalist sentiment. Although this was done more for Japanese political advantage than from altruistic support of Indonesian independence, this support created new Indonesian institutions (including local neighbourhood organisations) and elevated political leaders like Sukarno. Just as significantly for the subsequent revolution, the Japanese destroyed and replaced much of the Dutch-created economic, administrative, and political infrastructure.
With Japan on the brink of losing the war, the Dutch sought to re-establish their authority in Indonesia, and asked that the Japanese Army "preserve law and order" in Indonesia. The Japanese, however, were in favour of helping Indonesian nationalists prepare for self-government. On 7 September 1944, with the war going badly for the Japanese, Prime Minister Koiso promised independence for Indonesia, although no date was set. For supporters of Sukarno, this announcement was seen as vindication for his apparent collaboration with the Japanese.
Independence declaredUnder pressure from radical and politicised pemuda ('youth') groups, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesian independence, on 17 August 1945, two days after the Japanese Emperor’s surrender in the Pacific
. The following day, the Central Indonesian National Committee
(KINP) elected Sukarno as President
, and Hatta as Vice President
Euphoria of revolution
We, the people of Indonesia, hereby declare the independence of Indonesia.
Matters which concern the transfer of power and other things will be executed by careful means and in the shortest possible time.
Djakarta, 17 August 1945
In the name of the people of Indonesia,
(Translation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 1948)
did not believe it. As the news spread, most Indonesians came to regard themselves as pro-Republican, and a mood of revolution swept across the country. External power had shifted; it would be weeks before Allied Forces
entered Indonesia, and the Dutch were too weakened by World War II. The Japanese, on the other hand, were required by the terms of the surrender to both lay down their arms and maintain order; a contradiction that some resolved by handing weapons to Japanese-trained Indonesians.
The resulting power vacuums in the weeks following the Japanese surrender, created an atmosphere of uncertainty, but also one of opportunity for the Republicans. Many pemuda joined pro-Republic struggle groups (badan perjuangan). The most disciplined were soldiers from the Japanese-formed but disbanded Giyugun (PETA
) and Heiho groups. Many groups were undisciplined, due to both the circumstances of their formation and what they perceived as revolutionary spirit. In the first weeks, Japanese troops often withdrew from urban areas to avoid confrontations.
By September 1945, control of major infrastructure installations, including railway stations and trams in Java's largest cities, had been taken over by Republican pemuda who encountered little Japanese resistance. To spread the revolutionary message, pemuda set up their own radio stations and newspapers, and graffiti proclaimed the nationalist sentiment. On most islands, struggle committees and militia
were set up. Republican newspapers and journals were common in Jakarta, Yogyakarta
, and Surakarta
, which fostered a generation of writers known as angkatan 45 ('generation of 45') many of whom believed their work could be part of the revolution.
Republican leaders struggled to come to terms with popular sentiment; some wanted passionate armed struggle; others a more reasoned approach. Some leaders, such as the leftist Tan Malaka
, spread the idea that this was a revolutionary struggle to be led and won by the Indonesian pemuda. Sukarno and Hatta, in contrast, were more interested in planning out a government and institutions to achieve independence through diplomacy. Pro-revolution demonstrations took place in large cities, including one led by Tan Malaka in Jakarta with over 200,000 people, which Sukarno and Hatta, fearing violence, successfully quelled.
By September 1945, many of the self-proclaimed pemuda, who were ready to die for '100% freedom', were getting impatient. It was common for ethnic 'out-groups' – Dutch internees, Eurasian, Ambonese
and Chinese – and anyone considered to be a spy, to be subjected to intimidation, kidnap, robbery, and sometimes murder, even organised massacres. Such attacks would continue to some extent for the course of the revolution. As the level of violence increased across the country, the Sukarno- and Hatta-led Republican government in Jakarta urged calm. However, pemuda in favour of armed struggle saw the older leadership as dithering and betraying the revolution, which often led to conflict amongst Indonesians.
Formation of the Republican governmentBy the end of August, a central Republican government had been established in Jakarta. It adopted a constitution
drafted during the Japanese occupation by the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence. With general elections yet to be held, a Central Indonesian National Committee
(KINP) was appointed to assist the President. Similar committees were established at provincial and regency levels.
Questions of allegiance immediately arose amongst indigenous rulers. Central Java
nese principalities, for example, immediately declared themselves Republican, while many raja ('rulers') of the outer islands, who had been enriched from their support of the Dutch, were less enthusiastic. Such reluctance among many outer islands was sharpened by the radical, non-aristocratic, and sometimes Islamic nature of the Java-centric Republican leadership. Support did, however, come from South Sulawesi
(including the King of Bone
, who still recalled battles against the Dutch from early in the century), and from Makassarese and Bugis
raja, who supported the Republican Governor of Jakarta, a Menadonese Christian. Many Bali
nese raja accepted Republican authority.
Fearing the Dutch would attempt to re-establish their authority over Indonesia, the new Republican Government and its leaders moved quickly to strengthen the fledgling administration. Within Indonesia, the newly formed government, although enthusiastic, was fragile and focused in Java (where focused at all). It was rarely and loosely in contact with the outer islands, which had more Japanese troops (particularly in Japanese naval
areas), less sympathetic Japanese commanders, and fewer Republican leaders and activists. In November 1945, a parliamentary form of government was established and Sjahrir
was appointed Prime Minister.
In the week following the Japanese surrender, the Giyugun (PETA) and Heiho groups were disbanded by the Japanese. Command structures and membership vital for a national army were consequently dismantled. Thus, rather than being formed from a trained, armed, and organised army, the Republican armed forces began to grow in September from usually younger, less trained groups built around charismatic leaders. Creating a rational military structure that was obedient to central authority from such disorganisation, was one of the major problems of the revolution, a problem that remains through to contemporary times. In the self-created Indonesian army, Japanese-trained Indonesian officers prevailed over those trained by the Dutch. A thirty year-old former school teacher, Sudirman
, was elected 'commander-in-chief' at the first meeting of Division Commanders in Yogyakarta on 12 November 1945.
Allied counter revolutionThe Dutch accused Sukarno and Hatta of collaborating with the Japanese, and denounced the Republic as a creation of Japanese fascism. The Dutch East Indies administration had just received a ten million dollar loan from the United States to finance its return to Indonesia.
, South East Asia Command
. Allied enclaves already existed in Kalimantan
) and parts of Irian Jaya; Dutch administrators had already returned to these areas. In the Japanese navy areas, the arrival of Allied troops quickly prevented revolutionary activities where Australian troops, followed by Dutch troops and administrators, took the Japanese surrender (except for Bali
). Due to the lack of strong resistance, two Australian Army
divisions succeeded in occupying eastern Indonesia.
The British were charged with restoring order and civilian government in Java. The Dutch took this to mean pre-war colonial administration and continued to claim sovereignty over Indonesia. British Commonwealth
troops did not, however, land on Java to accept the Japanese surrender until late September 1945. Lord Mountbatten’s immediate tasks included the repatriation of some 300,000 Japanese, and freeing prisoners of war. He did not want, nor did he have the resources, to commit his troops to a long struggle to regain Indonesia for the Dutch. The first British troops reached Jakarta in late September 1945, and arrived in the cities of Medan
) and Surabaya
) in October. In an attempt to avoid clashes with Indonesians, the British commander Lieutenant General Sir Philip Christison
, diverted soldiers of the former Dutch colonial army to eastern Indonesia, where Dutch reoccupation was proceeding smoothly. Tensions mounted as Allied troops entered Java and Sumatra; clashes broke out between Republicans and their perceived enemies, namely Dutch prisoners, Dutch colonial troops (KNIL)
, Chinese, Indo-Europeans and Japanese.
The first stages of warfare were initiated in October 1945 when, in accordance with the terms of their surrender, the Japanese tried to re-establish the authority they relinquished to Indonesians in the towns and cities. Japanese military police killed Republican pemuda in Pekalongan
(Central Java) on 3 October, and Japanese troops drove Republican pemuda out of Bandung
in West Java
and handed the city to the British, but the fiercest fighting involving the Japanese was in Semarang. On 14 October, British forces began to occupy the city. Retreating Republican forces retaliated by killing between 130 and 300 Japanese prisoners they were holding. Five hundred Japanese and 2,000 Indonesians had been killed and the Japanese had almost captured the city six days later when British forces arrived. The Allies repatriated the remaining Japanese troops and civilians to Japan, although about 1,000 elected to remain behind and later assisted Republican forces in fighting for independence.
The British subsequently decided to evacuate the 10,000 Indo-Europeans and European internees in the volatile Central Java interior. British detachments sent to the towns of Ambarawa
encountered strong Republican resistance and used air attacks against the Indonesians. Sukarno arranged a ceasefire on 2 November, but by late November fighting had resumed and the British withdrew to the coast. Republican attacks against Allied and alleged pro-Dutch civilians reached a peak in November and December, with 1,200 killed in Bandung as the pemuda returned to the offensive. In March 1946, departing Republicans responded to a British ultimatum for them to leave the city of Bandung by deliberately burning down much of the southern half of the city in what is popularly known in Indonesia as the "Bandung Sea of Fire
". The last British troops left Indonesia in November 1946, but by this time 55,000 Dutch troops had landed in Java.
Battle of SurabayaThe Battle of Surabaya was the heaviest single battle of the revolution and became a national symbol of Indonesian resistance. Pemuda groups in Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, seized arms
from the Japanese and set up two new organisations; the Indonesia National Committee (KNI) and the People's Security Council (BKR). By the time the Allied forces
arrived at the end of October 1945, the pemuda foothold in Surabaya city was described as "a strong unified fortress".
The city itself was in pandemonium. There was bloody hand-to-hand fighting on every street corner. Bodies were strewn everywhere. Decapitated, dismembered trunks lay piled one on top of the other...Indonesians were shooting and stabbing and murdering wildly
In September and October 1945 Europeans and pro-Dutch Eurasians were attacked and killed by Indonesian mobs. Ferocious fighting erupted when 6,000 British Indian troops landed in the city. Sukarno
negotiated a ceasefire between the Republicans and the British forces
led by Brigadier Mallaby. Following the killing of Mallaby on 30 October, the British sent more troops into the city from 10 November under the cover of air attacks. Although the European forces largely captured the city in three days, the poorly armed Republicans fought on for three weeks and thousands died as the population fled to the countryside.
Despite the military defeat suffered by the Republicans and a loss of manpower and weaponry that would severely hamper Republican forces for the rest of the revolution, the battle and defence mounted by the Indonesians galvanised the nation in support of independence and helped garner international attention. For the Dutch, it removed any doubt that the Republic was not simply a gang of collaborators without popular support. It also convinced Britain to lie on the side of neutrality in the revolution; and within a few years, Britain would support the Republican cause in the United Nations.
Return of the DutchWith British assistance, the Dutch landed their Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) forces in Jakarta and other key centres. Republican sources reported 8,000 deaths up to January 1946 in the defence of Jakarta, but they could not hold the city. The Republican leadership thus established themselves in the city of Yogyakarta
with the crucial support of the new sultan, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX
. Yogyakarta went on to play a leading role in the revolution, which would result in the city being granted its own Special Territory status. In Bogor
, near Jakarta, and in Balikpapan
in Kalimantan, Republican officials were imprisoned. In preparation for Dutch occupation of Sumatra, its largest cities, Palembang and Medan, were bombed. In December 1946, Special Forces Depot (DST), led by commando and counter-insurgency
expert Captain Raymond 'Turk' Westerling
, were accused of pacifying
the southern Sulawesi
region using arbitrary terror techniques, which were copied by other anti-Republicans. As many as 3,000 Republican militia and their supporters were killed in a few weeks.
On Java and Sumatra, the Dutch found military success in cities and major towns, but they were unable to subdue the villages and countryside. On the outer islands (including Bali), Republican sentiment was not as strong, at least among the elite. They were consequently occupied by the Dutch with comparative ease, and autonomous states were set up by the Dutch. The largest, the State of East Indonesia
(NIT), encompassed most of eastern Indonesia, and was established in December 1946, with its administrative capital in Makassar
Linggadjati AgreementThe Linggadjati Agreement
, brokered by the British and concluded in November 1946, saw the Netherlands recognise the Republic as the de-facto authority over Java, Madura
, and Sumatra. Both parties agreed to the formation of the 'United States of Indonesia' by 1 January 1949, a semi-autonomous federal
state with the Monarchy of the Netherlands
at its head. The Republican-controlled Java and Sumatra would be one of its states, alongside areas that were generally under stronger Dutch influence, including southern Kalimantan, and the 'Great East', which consisted of Sulawesi, Maluku, the Lesser Sunda Islands
, and Western New Guinea
. The Central National Committee of Indonesia (KNIP) did not ratify the agreement until February 1947, and neither the Republic nor the Dutch were satisfied with it. On 25 March 1947 the Lower House
of the Dutch parliament ratified a 'stripped down' version of the treaty, which was not accepted by the Republic. Both sides soon accused the other of violating the agreement.
...[the Republic] became increasingly disorganised internally; party leaders fought with party leaders; governments were over thrown and replaced by others; armed groups acted on their own in local conflicts; certain parts of the Republic never had contact with the centre-they just drifted along in their own way.
The whole situation deteriorated to such an extent that the Dutch Government was obliged to decide that no progress could be made before law and order were restored sufficiently to make intercourse between the different parts of Indonesia possible, and to guarantee the safety of people of different political opinions.
—former East IndiesEast IndiesEast Indies is a term used by Europeans from the 16th century onwards to identify what is now known as Indian subcontinent or South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and the islands of Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines...
Governor H. J. van MookHubertus Johannes van MookHubertus Johannes van Mook was a Dutch administrator in the East Indies. During the Indonesian National Revolution, he served as the Acting Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies from 1942 to 1948. van Mook also had a son named Cornelius van Mook who studied marine engineering at the...
's justification for the first Dutch "police action"Operatie ProductOperatie Product, was the first of two major Dutch military offensives against the Republic of Indonesia during the Indonesian National Revolution. It took place following Dutch assertions that Indonesia cooperated insufficiently in the implementation of the Linggadjati Agreement, which had been...
Operation ProductAt midnight on 20 July 1947, the Dutch launched a major military offensive called Operatie Product, with the intent of conquering the Republic. Claiming violations of the Linggajati Agreement, the Dutch described the campaign as Politionele acties
('police actions') to restore law and order. This used to be the task of the KNIL. However, at the time the majority of the Dutch troops in Indonesia belonged to the Royal Netherlands Army
. Soon after the end of World War II, 25,000 volunteers (among them 5,000 marines) had been sent overseas. They were later followed by larger numbers of conscripts from the Netherlands. In the offensive, Dutch forces drove Republican troops out of parts of Sumatra, and East and West Java. The Republicans were confined to the Yogyakarta region of Java. To maintain their force in Java, now numbering 100,000 troops, the Dutch gained control of lucrative Sumatran plantations, and oil and coal installations, and in Java, control of all deep water ports.
International reaction to the Dutch actions was negative. Neighbouring Australia and newly independent India were particularly active in supporting the Republic's cause in the UN, as was the Soviet Union
and, most significantly, the United States. Dutch ships continued to be boycotted from loading and unloading by Australian waterside workers, a blockade that began in September 1945. The United Nations Security Council
became directly involved in the conflict, establishing a Good Offices Committee to sponsor further negotiations, making the Dutch diplomatic position particularly difficult. A ceasefire, called for by UN resolution
, was ordered by the Dutch and Sukarno on 4 August 1947. During the military action, on 9 December 1947 Dutch troops killed many civilians
in the village of Rawagede (now Balongsari in Karawang
, West Java).
'; an artificial line which connected up the most advanced Dutch positions. Many Republican positions, however, were still held behind the Dutch lines. The agreement also required referenda to be held on the political future of the Dutch held areas. The apparent reasonableness of Republicans garnered much important American goodwill.
Diplomatic efforts between the Netherlands and the Republic continued throughout 1948 and 1949. Political pressures, both domestic and international, hindered Dutch attempts at goal formulation. Similarly Republican leaders faced great difficulty in persuading their people to accept diplomatic concessions. By July 1948 negotiations were in deadlock and the Netherlands pushed unilaterally towards Van Mook’s federal Indonesia concept. The new federal states of South Sumatra and East Java were created, although neither had a viable support base. The Netherlands set up the Bijeenkomst voor Federaal Overleg (BFO) (or Federal Consultative Assembly
), a body comprising the leadership of the federal states, and charged with the formation of a United States of Indonesia and an interim government by the end of 1948. The Dutch plans, however, had no place for the Republic unless it accepted a minor role already defined for it. Later plans included Java and Sumatra but dropped all mention of the Republic. The main sticking point in the negotiations was the balance of power between the Netherlands High Representative and the Republican forces.
Mutual distrust between the Netherlands and the Republic hindered negotiations. The Republic feared a second major Dutch offensive, while the Dutch objected to continued Republican activity on the Dutch side of the Renville line. In February 1948 the Siliwangi Battalion of the Republican Army, led by Nasution, marched from West Java to Central Java; the relocation was intended to ease internal Republican tensions involving the Battalion in the Surakarta area. The Battalion, however, clashed with Dutch troops while crossing Mount Slamet
, and the Dutch believed it was part of a systematic troop movement across the Renville Line. The fear of such incursions actually succeeding, along with apparent Republican undermining of the Dutch-established Pasundan state and negative reports, led to the Dutch leadership increasingly seeing itself as losing control.
Operation Crow and Serangan Oemoem (General Attack)
We have been attacked.... The Dutch government have betrayed the cease-fire agreement. All the Armed Forces will carry out the plans which have been decided on to confront the Dutch attack
—General Sudirman, broadcast from his sickbed.
Frustrated at negotiations with the Republic and believing it weakened by both the Darul Islam and Madiun
insurgencies, the Dutch launched a military offensive on 19 December 1948 which it termed 'Operatie Kraai' (Operation Crow). By the following day it had conquered the city of Yogyakarta, the location of the temporary Republican capital. By the end of December, all major Republican held cities in Java and Sumatra were in Dutch hands. The Republican President, Vice President, and all but six Republic of Indonesia ministers were captured by Dutch troops and exiled on Bangka Island
off the east coast of Sumatra. In areas surrounding Yogyakarta and Surakarta, Republican forces refused to surrender and continued to wage a guerrilla war under the leadership of Republican military chief of staff General Sudirman who had escaped the Dutch offensives. An emergency Republican government, the Pemerintahan Darurat Republik Indonesia
(PDRI), was established in West Sumatra.
Although Dutch forces conquered the towns and cities in Republican heartlands on Java and Sumatra, they could not control villages and the countryside. Republican troops and militia led by Lt. Colonel
(later President) Suharto attacked Dutch positions in Yogyakarta at dawn on 1 March 1949. The Dutch were expelled from the city for six hours but reinforcements were brought in from the nearby cities of Ambarawa and Semarang that afternoon. Indonesian fighters retreated at 12:00 pm and the Dutch re-entered the city. The Indonesian attack, later known in Indonesia as Serangan Oemoem (new spelling: Serangan Umum '1 March General Offensive'), is commemorated by a large monument in Yogyakarta. A similar attack against Dutch troops in Surakarta
was led by Lt. Col. Slamet Riyadi on 7 August the same year.
Once again, international opinion of the Dutch military campaigns was one of outrage, significantly in both the United Nations and the United States. In January 1949, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding the reinstatement of the Republican government. United States aid specifically earmarked for the Netherlands' Indonesia efforts was immediately cancelled and pressure mounted within the U.S. Congress for all United States aid to be cut off. This included Marshall Plan
funds vital for Dutch post-World War II rebuilding that had so far totalled $US 1 billion. The Netherlands Government had spent an amount equivalent to almost half of this funding their campaigns in Indonesia. That United States aid could be used to fund "a senile and ineffectual imperialism" encouraged many key voices in the United States – including those amongst the U.S. Republican Party
– and from within American churches and NGOs to speak out in support of Indonesian independence.
Social revolutionsThe so-called 'social revolutions' following the independence proclamation were challenges to the Dutch-established Indonesian social order, and to some extent a result of the resentment against Japanese-imposed policies. Across the country, people rose up against traditional aristocrats and village heads and attempted to exert popular ownership of land and other resources. The majority of the social revolutions ended quickly; in most cases the challenges to the social order were quashed.
A culture of violence rooted in the deep conflicts that split the countryside under Dutch rule would repeatedly erupt throughout the whole second half of the twentieth century. The term 'social revolution' has been applied to a range of mostly violent activities of the left that included both altruistic attempts to organise real revolution and simple expressions of revenge, resentment and assertions of power. Violence was one of the many lessons learned during the Japanese occupation, and figures identified as 'feudal', including kings, regents, or simply the wealthy, were often attacked, sometimes beheaded, and rape became a weapon against 'feudal' women. In the coastal sultanates of Sumatra and Kalimantan, for example, sultan
s and others whose authority had been shored-up by the Dutch, were attacked as soon as Japanese authority left. The secular local lords of Aceh
, who had been the foundation of Dutch rule, were executed, although most of Indonesia's sultanates fell back into Dutch hands.
Most Indonesians lived in fear and uncertainty, particularly a significant proportion of the population who supported the Dutch or who remained under Dutch control. The popular revolutionary cry 'Freedom or Death' was often interpreted to justify killings under claimed Republican authority. Traders were often in particularly difficult positions. On the one hand, they were pressured by Republicans to boycott all sales to the Dutch; on the other hand, Dutch police could be merciless in their efforts to stamp out smugglers on which the Republican economy depended. In some areas, the term kedaulatan rakyat ('exercising the sovereignty of the people') – which is mentioned in the preamble of the Constitution and used by pemuda to demand pro-active policies from leaders – came to be used not only in the demanding of free goods, but also to justify extortion and robbery. Chinese merchants, in particular, were often forced to keep their goods at artificially low prices under threat of death.
Communist and Islamist insurgenciesOn 18 September 1948 an 'Indonesian Soviet Republic' was declared in Madiun, east of Yogyakarta, by members of the PKI and the Indonesian Socialist Party
(PSI). Judging the times as right for a proletarian uprising, they intended it to be a rallying centre for revolt against "Sukarno-Hatta, the slaves of the Japanese and America". Madiun however was won back by Republican forces within a few weeks and the insurgency leader, Musso, killed. RM Suryo, the governor of East Java, several police officers and religious leaders were killed by the rebels. This ended a distraction for the revolution, and it turned vague American sympathies based on anti-colonial sentiments into diplomatic support. Internationally, the Republic was now seen as being staunchly anti-communist
and a potential ally in the emergin global Cold War
between the American-led 'free world' and the Soviet-led bloc.
Members of the Republican Army who had come from Indonesian Hizbullah felt betrayed by Indonesian Government. In May 1948, they declared a break-away regime, the Negara Islam Indonesia (Indonesian Islamic State), better known as Darul Islam. Led by an Islamic mystic, Sekarmadji Maridjan Kartosuwirjo
, Darul Islam sought to establish Indonesia as an Islamic theocracy
. At the time, the Republican Government did not respond as they were focused on the threat from the Dutch. Some leaders of Masjumi sympathised with the rebellion. After the Republic regained all territories in 1950, the government took the Darul Islam threat seriously, especially after some provinces declared their joining of Darul Islam. The rebellion was put down in 1962.
Transfer of sovereignty
Millions upon millions flooded the sidewalks, the roads. They were crying, cheering, screaming "...Long live Bung Karno..." They clung to the sides of the car, the hood, the running boards. They grabbed at me to kiss my fingers.
Soldiers beat a path for me to the topmost step of the big white palace. There I raised both hands high. A stillness swept over the millions.
"Alhamdulillah – Thank God," I cried. "We are free"
—SukarnoSukarnoSukarno, born Kusno Sosrodihardjo was the first President of Indonesia.Sukarno was the leader of his country's struggle for independence from the Netherlands and was Indonesia's first President from 1945 to 1967...
's recollections of independence achieved.
The resilience of Indonesian Republican resistance and active international diplomacy set world opinion against the Dutch efforts to re-establish their colony. The second 'police action' was a diplomatic disaster for the Dutch cause. The newly appointed United States Secretary of State
pushed the Netherlands government into negotiations earlier recommended by the United Nations but until then defied by the Netherlands. The Dutch–Indonesian Round Table Conference was held in The Hague from 23 August 1949 to 2 November 1949 between the Republic, the Netherlands, and the Dutch-created federal states. The Netherlands agreed to recognise Indonesian sovereignty over a new federal state known as the 'United States of Indonesia' (RUSI). It would include all the territory of the former Dutch East Indies with the exception of Netherlands New Guinea
; sovereignty over which it was agreed would be retained by the Netherlands until further negotiations with Indonesia. The other difficult issue to which Indonesia gave concessions was Netherlands East Indies debt. Indonesia agreed to responsibility for this sum of £4.3 billion, much of which was directly attributable to Dutch attempts to crush the revolution. Sovereignty was formally transferred on 27 December 1949, and the new state was immediately recognised by the United States of America.
in Bandung and Jakarta by Westerling's Legion of Ratu Adil
(APRA) on 23 January 1950 resulted in the dissolution of the populous Pasundan state in West Java, thus quickening the dissolution of the federal structure. Colonial soldiers, who were largely Ambonese, clashed with Republican troops in Makassar
during the Makassar Uprising
in April 1950. The predominantly Christian Ambonese were from one of the few regions with pro-Dutch sentiments and they were suspicious of the Javanese Muslim-dominated Republic, whom they unfavourably regarded as leftists. On 25 April 1950, an independent Republic of South Maluku (RMS) was proclaimed in Ambon but this was suppressed by Republican troops during a campaign from July to November. With the state of East Sumatra now being the only federal state remaining, it too folded and fell in line with the unitary Republic. On 17 August 1950, the fifth anniversary of his declaration of Indonesian independence, Sukarno proclaimed the Republic of Indonesia as a unitary state
The revolution had direct effects on economic conditions; shortages were common, particularly food, clothing and fuel. There were in effect two economies – the Dutch and the Republican – both of which had to simultaneously rebuild after World War II and survive the disruptions of the revolution. The Republic had to set up all necessities of life, ranging from 'postage stamps, army badges, and train tickets' whilst subject to Dutch trade blockades. Confusion and ruinous inflationary surges resulted from competing currencies; Japanese, new Dutch money, and Republican currencies were all used, often concurrently.
Indonesian independence was secured through a blend of both diplomacy and force. Despite their ill-discipline raising the prospect of anarchy, without pemuda confronting foreign and Indonesian colonial forces, Republican diplomatic efforts would have been futile. The revolution is the turning point of modern Indonesian history
, and it has provided the reference point and validation for the country’s major political trends that continue to the present day. It gave impetus to communism in the country, to militant nationalism, to Sukarno's 'guided democracy
', to political Islam, the origins of the Indonesian army and its role in Indonesian power, the country's constitutional arrangements, and the centralism of power in Indonesia.
The revolution destroyed a colonial administration ruled from the other side of the world, and dismantled with it the raja, seen by many as obsolete and powerless. Also, it relaxed the rigid racial and social categorisations of colonial Indonesia. Tremendous energies and aspirations were created amongst Indonesians; a new creative surge was seen in writing and art, as was a great demand for education and modernisation. It did not, however, significantly improve the economic or political fortune of the population’s poverty-stricken peasant majority; only a few Indonesians were able to gain a larger role in commerce, and hopes for democracy were dashed within a decade.
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- Heijboer, Pierre (1979). De Politionele Acties, Fibula-van Dishoeck, Haarlem (richly illustrated with a military focus, in Dutch)
- Ide Anak Agug Gde Agung (1996) (translated to English by Linda Owens)From the Formation of the State of East Indonesia Towards the Establishment of the United States of Indonesia Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia ISBN 979-461-216-2 (Original edition Dari Negara Indonesia Timur ke Republic Indonesia Serikat 1985 Gadjah Mada University Press)
- Jong, Dr. L. de (1988). Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, deel 12, Sdu, 's-Gravenhage (an authoritative standard text on both the political and military aspects, in Dutch)
- Parallel and Divergent Aspects of British Rule in the Raj, French Rule in Indochina, Dutch Rule in the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), and American Rule in the Philippines.
- Radio address by Queen Wilhelmina on 7 December 1942.
- Dutch Proposals for Indonesian Settlement 6 November 1945.
- Dutch Proposals for Indonesian Settlement 10 Feb 1946.
- Text of the Linggadjati Agreement 10 Feb 1946.
- The Renville Political Principles 17 January 1948.