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Monday, November 29, 2004

Colonial Warfare pt. 8


Sukarno. Fired by the Americans in 1965

Indonesian War of Independence

Unlike Burma and the Philippines, Indonesia was not granted formal independence by the Japanese in 1943. No Indonesian representative was sent to the Greater East Asia Conference in Tokyo in November 1943. But as the war became more desperate, Japan announced in September 1944 that not only Java but the entire archipelago would become independent. This announcement was a tremendous vindication of the seemingly collaborative policies of Sukarno and Hatta. In March 1945, the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Indonesian Independence (BPUPKI) was organized, and delegates came not only from Java but also from Sumatra and the eastern archipelago to decide the constitution of the new state. The committee wanted the new nation's territory to include not only the Netherlands Indies but also Portuguese Timor and British North Borneo and the Malay Peninsula. Thus the basis for a postwar Greater Indonesia (Indonesia Raya) policy, pursued by Sukarno in the 1950s and 1960s, was established..........

On June 1, 1945, Sukarno gave a speech outlining the Pancasila; the five guiding principles of the Indonesian nation. Much as he had used the concept of Marhaenism to create a common denominator for the masses in the 1930s, so he used the Pancasila concept to provide a basis for a unified, independent state. The five principles are belief in God, humanitarianism, national unity, democracy, and social justice.

On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered. The Indonesian leadership, pressured by radical youth groups (the pemuda), were obliged to move quickly. With the cooperation of individual Japanese navy and army officers (others feared reprisals from the Allies or were not sympathetic to the Indonesian cause), Sukarno and Hatta formally declared the nation's independence on August 17 at the former's residence in Jakarta, raised the red and white national flag, and sang the new nation's national anthem, Indonesia Raya (Greater Indonesia). The following day a new constitution was promulgated.

The Indonesian republic's prospects were highly uncertain. The Dutch, determined to reoccupy their colony, castigated Sukarno and Hatta as collaborators with the Japanese and the Republic of Indonesia as a creation of Japanese fascism. But the Netherlands, devastated by the Nazi occupation, lacked the resources to reassert its authority. The archipelago came under the jurisdiction of Admiral Earl Louis Mountbatten, the supreme Allied commander in Southeast Asia. Because of Indonesia's distance from the main theaters of war, Allied troops, mostly from the British Commonwealth of Nations, did not land on Java until late September. Japanese troops stationed in the islands were told to maintain law and order. Their role in the early stages of the republican revolution was ambiguous: on the one hand, sometimes they cooperated with the Allies and attempted to curb republican activities; on the other hand, some Japanese commanders, usually under duress, turned over arms to the republicans, and the armed forces established under Japanese auspices became an important part of postwar anti-Dutch resistance.

...........

On October 28, 1945, major violence erupted in Surabaya in East Java, as occupying British troops clashed with pemuda and other armed groups. Following a major military disaster for the British in which their commander, A.W.S. Mallaby, and hundreds of troops were killed, the British launched a tough counterattack. The Battle of Surabaya (November 10-24) cost thousands of lives and was the bloodiest single engagement of the struggle for independence. It forced the Allies to come to terms with the republic.

In November 1945, through the efforts of Syahrir, the new republic was given a parliamentary form of government. Syahrir, who had refused to cooperate with the wartime Japanese regime and had campaigned hard against retaining occupation-era institutions, such as Peta, was appointed the first prime minister and headed three short-lived cabinets until he was ousted by his deputy, Amir Syarifuddin, in June 1947.

The Dutch, realizing their weak position during the year following the Japanese surrender, were initially disposed to negotiate with the republic for some form of commonwealth relationship between the archipelago and the Netherlands. The negotiations resulted in the British-brokered Linggajati Agreement, initialled on November 12, 1946. The agreement provided for Dutch recognition of republican rule on Java and Sumatra, and the Netherlands-Indonesian Union under the Dutch crown (consisting of the Netherlands, the republic, and the eastern archipelago). The archipelago was to have a loose federal arrangement, the Republic of the United States of Indonesia (RUSI), comprising the republic (on Java and Sumatra), southern Kalimantan, and the "Great East" consisting of Sulawesi, Maluku, the Lesser Sunda Islands, and West New Guinea. The KNIP did not ratify the agreement until March 1947, and neither the republic nor the Dutch were happy with it. The agreement was signed on May 25, 1947.

On July 21, 1947, the Dutch, claiming violations of the Linggajati Agreement, launched what was euphemistically called a "police action" against the republic. Dutch troops drove the republicans out of Sumatra and East and West Java, confining them to the Yogyakarta region of Central Java. The international reaction to the police action, however, was negative. The United Nations (UN) Security Council established a Good Offices Committee to sponsor further negotiations. This action led to the Renville Agreement (named for the United States Navy ship on which the negotiations were held), which was ratified by both sides on January 17, 1948. It recognized temporary Dutch control of areas taken by the police action but provided for referendums in occupied areas on their political future.

The Renville Agreement marked the low point of republican fortunes. The Dutch, moreover, were not the only threat. In western Java in 1948, an Islamic mystic named Kartosuwirjo, with the support of kyai and others, established a breakaway regime called the Indonesian Islamic State (Negara Islam Indonesia), better known as Darul Islam (from the Arabic, dar-al-Islam, house or country of Islam), a political movement committed to the establishment of a Muslim theocracy. Kartosuwirjo and his followers stirred the cauldron of local unrest in West Java until he was captured and executed in 1962.

.................

Immediately following the Madiun Affair, the Dutch launched a second "police action" that captured Yogyakarta on December 19, 1948. Sukarno, Hatta, who was there serving both as vice president and prime minister, and other republican leaders were arrested and exiled to northern Sumatra or the island of Bangka. An emergency republican government was established in western Sumatra. But The Hague's hard-fisted policies aroused a strong international reaction not only among newly independent Asian countries, such as India, but also among members of the UN Security Council, including the United States. In January 1949, the Security Council passed a resolution demanding the reinstatement of the republican government. The Dutch were also pressured to accept a full transfer of authority in the archipelago to Indonesians by July 1, 1950. The Round Table Conference was held in The Hague from August 23 to November 2, 1949 to determine the means by which the transfer could be accomplished. Parties to the negotiations were the republic, the Dutch, and the federal states that the Dutch had set up following their police actions.

The result of the conference was an agreement that the Netherlands would recognize the RUSI as an independent state, that all Dutch military forces would be withdrawn, and that elections would be held for a Constituent Assembly. Two particularly difficult questions slowed down the negotiations: the status of West New Guinea, which remained under Dutch control, and the size of debts owed by Indonesia to the Netherlands, an amount of 4.3 billion guilders being agreed upon. Sovereignty was formally transferred on December 27, 1949.

The RUSI, an unwieldy federal creation, was made up of sixteen entities: the Republic of Indonesia, consisting of territories in Java and Sumatra with a total population of 31 million, and the fifteen states established by the Dutch, one of which, Riau, had a population of only 100,000. The RUSI constitution gave these territories outside the republic representation in the RUSI legislature that was far in excess of their populations. In this manner, the Dutch hoped to curb the influence of the densely populated republican territories and maintain a postindependence relationship that would be amenable to Dutch interests......

The consolidation process had been accelerated in January 1950 by an abortive coup d'├ętat in West Java led by Raymond Paul Pierre "The Turk" Westerling, a Dutch commando and counterinsurgency expert who, as a commander in the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL), had used terroristic, guerrilla-style pacification methods against local populations during the National Revolution. Jakarta extended its control over the West Java state of Pasundan in February. Other states, under strong pressure from Jakarta, relinquished their federal status during the following months. But in April 1950, the Republic of South Maluku (RMS) was proclaimed at Ambon. With its large Christian population and long history of collaboration with Dutch rule (Ambonese soldiers had formed an indispensable part of the colonial military), the region was one of the few with substantial pro-Dutch sentiment. The Republic of South Maluku was suppressed by November 1950, and the following year some 12,000 Ambonese soldiers accompanied by their families went to the Netherlands, where they established a Republic of South Maluku government-in-exile.


The Dutch were as obstinate as the Belgians, but had more resources. The Dutch framed the independence struggle as a fight against collaborators. The Indonesians worked with the Japanese because the Dutch were going to keep their colony. Unlike the Americans, who clearly told the Filipinos they would be free on July 4, 1946. Which meant that Filipino nationalists would fight the racist and cruel Japanese, knowing that the Americans had a leave by date. Sukarno and the Indonesians worked with the Japanese because they felt they had no choice. The Dutch then turned this against the Indonesians who wanted to get 350 years of colonialism off their back.

The parallels between the Dutch in Indonesia and the the US in Iraq are a lot closer than the Dutch would like to consider. They basically launched their return on false pretexts and then fought a brutal, losing war for four full years. The same people who had survived Nazi brutality went on murderous rampages against the Indonesia people.

As we will see, there has NEVER been any accountability for this, despite the problems Indonesia still has. Resentment over the Chinese business class, one created by the Dutch, struggles on Timor, in Aceh, and in the Moluccas all stem from Dutch misrule and cruelty. The lack of democratic institutions and the primacy of the military also come from the refusal of the Dutch to educate anyone decently. Ninety-three percent illiteracy in 1940 was clearly a plan for continued subjugation.

Even the Japanese, who were both racist and cruel, were seen as an improvement over the Dutch, a fact not really discussed in Holland. The Dutch made a deliberate decision to make a weak post-colonial state. We see the effects of those decisions today.

Now, we'll discuss post-colonial warfare another time, and that is where the CIA plays a large and murderous role. But much of Indonesia's problems stems from the way the Dutch were forced to hand over power.

Despite a liberal philisophy at home, the Dutch East Indies saw none of that. They got the back of the Dutch hand and poverty, as the Dutch stole their land and resources and divided their people into competing against each other. And it was Truman who forced their hand, by threatening to end Marshall Plan aid to Holland. The Dutch basically had to be slapped across the head to end their pointless, losing war in Indonesia, and they still tried to game the results.

posted by Steve @ 7:51:00 PM

7:51:00 PM

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