Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | 13:56 WIB

INDONESIA CELEBRATES 77 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE: Where do we stand against our former colonizer?

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A conference of 120 delegates was held at The Hague in 1949. The Indonesian delegates were led by Moh.Hatta (seen with spectacles), with Queen Juliana as the titular head of Indonesian-Dutch union. (Source: Arsip Nasional)

History showed that even with a very large military force and equipped with the most modern weapons at that time, the Dutch failed to defeat the Indonesian national armed forces and erase the Republic of Indonesia from the global political map. When the Round Table Conference (KMB) was held in The Hague, Netherlands on August 23-November 2, 1949, the Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian national armed forces still existed. In other words, the Dutch utterly failed to defeat and control the Republic of Indonesia; worse, it was heavily criticized by the international community. 

On August 16, 1950 the United States of Indonesia (RIS) was dissolved and on August 17, 1950 the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) was reestablished based on the system of government proclaimed on August 17, 1945. Dutch efforts to divide the Republic of Indonesia also failed. 

Non-military war continues 

Conservative circles and part of the Dutch army still continued their secret operations to overthrow the United States of Indonesia (RIS) which emerged from the Round Table Conference (KMB). This effort began with the Angkatan Perang Ratu Adil (APRA) movement. On January 23, 1950, Captain Raymond Westerling, a former Dutch army officer, led mutinous Dutch army personnel to launch a coup against the RIS government. The coup failed and Westerling, assisted by Dutch military officials, fed to Singapore and then to Belgium. However, all of his men were arrested and sentenced to prison by the RIS government. At that time, it was revealed that the coup was a conspiracy between Westerling and Sultan Hamid II of Pontianak. Sultan Hamid II, who at that time served as Minister of State (without portfolio) in the Indonesian government was arrested and brought to justice. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and released in 1958. 

In November 2009, it was revealed in the Netherlands that the real mastermind behind the APRA coup attempt was Prince Bernhard, husband of Queen Juliana. He wanted to be a viceroy in Indonesia, just like Lord Mountbatten who was once viceroy of the British Empire in India. 

On April 25, 1950, “black hands” from the Netherlands established the South Maluku Republic (RMS). Led by its president Christiaan Soumokil, it wanted to secede from the Republic of Indonesia. The core strength of the RMS army consisted of about 1,000 KNIL soldiers led by KNIL Sergeant Dantje Samson. The separatists were crushed by the TNI in December 1963. Soumokil was executed in 1966. In 1950, around 4,000 ex-KNIL soldiers from Maluku and their families fed to the Netherlands. 

In addition to military operations, Dutch-backed separatist groups continued to carry out subversion and underground movements to destabilize the Republic of Indonesia economically, politically, militarily and socially. These underground movements were: 

– Van der Plas Connection which has been mentioned earlier. 

– Vrijwillige Ondergrondsche Corps (VOC), an underground volunteer corps where Sultan Hamid II was again involved after his release from the prison in 1958 for his involvement in APRA. He was arrested again in 1962. In 1966, he was released after the September 30 Movement (G30S) due to Dutch intervention. 

– De Nederlands Indische Guerilla Organisatie (NIGO), a Dutch East Indies Guerrilla Organization led by Leon Jungschläger and Henry Schmidt. Jungschläger was a former chief of the Netherlands Forces Intelligence Service (NEFIS) while Schmidt an exKNIL officer. They were arrested in January 1954. On April 19 that year, Jungschläger died of a cerebral hemorrhage while in detention. In September 1954, Schmidt was brought before a court in Jakarta and sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

The intelligence service of the Republic of Indonesia managed to uncover and thwart all Dutchbacked underground movements and their accomplices in Indonesia. 

Indonesia severed diplomatic ties with the Netherlands 

At the KMB negotiation, the Dutch promised to return West Irian (now the provinces of Papua and West Papua) to the Republic of Indonesia in one year. However, more than a year later, the Dutch still wanted to control the resource-rich province. Indonesia then began preparation to seize West Irian from Dutch rule and the military confrontation began. Relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands, which were already tense, were at breaking point. 

In May 1956, the Indonesia Government unilaterally canceled all the KMB resolutions, and stopped paying installments for the remaining 500 million gulden to the Netherlands as stipulated by the KMB agreement. 

In 1957, the Indonesian government nationalized all Dutch companies, be they state-owned or privately owned. All Dutch without jobs in the Republic of Indonesia were ordered to leave the country. It is estimated that more than 50,000 Dutch nationals had to leave Indonesia. 

The height of Indonesia’s conflict with the Netherlands occurred on August 17, 1960, when the Republic of Indonesia severed diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and expelled all Dutch citizens from Indonesia. This measure by the Indonesian government was very painful for the Dutch government and people, especially those who were expelled from Indonesia. It also profoundly embarrassed the Netherlands internationally, because for the first time all former colonizers were expelled from their former colonies. To accommodate more than 50,000 Dutch from Indonesia in a short period of time was of course very burdensome for the Netherlands, economically and socially. 

Indonesia began to attack the Dutch in West Irian in 1961. In the naval battle in the Aru Sea on January 15, 1962, Vice Admiral Yosaphat Sudarso fell. Seeing the escalation of the conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands, the United Nations stepped in to mediate. Diplomatic relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands were restored. In a negotiation facilitated by the UN on August 15, 1962 in New York, the Netherlands agreed to hand over West Irian to Indonesia no later than October 1, 1962. This diplomatic defeat was another blow to the Netherlands as it lost yet another source of wealth. Such was the series of defeats inflicted on the Dutch between 1942-1962 by its former colony. 

These events are deeply ingrained in the collective memory of the Dutch nation. These are the historical and socio-psychological backgrounds of why the Dutch, especially their conservative circles, still harbor a very deep grudge against the Indonesian people. In 1963, “black hands” in the Netherlands established yet another separatist movement, the Free Papua Organization (OPM), and incited the Papuan people to secede from the Republic of Indonesia. 

The Cold War ended, the “History War” began 

After the national tragedy in 1965, Indonesia became an anti-communist country and was grouped into the anti-communist North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) camp. During the Cold War between the communist and anti-communist blocs, the conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands “cooled” because they were facing the same enemy, communism. However, in 1991, near the end of the Cold War, anti-Indonesian groups in the Netherlands again began their efforts to divide the Unitary Republic of Indonesia and “settle old scores” against Indonesia. 

On February 11, 1991 in the Netherlands a UN-like organization called the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) was established. Its members are nations that are not represented at the United Nations. In essence, its members are separatist movements in their respective countries, many of which were actually formed or supported by their former colonizers. The objective of UNPO is to help its members achieve independence. In other words, to divide their former colonies, including Indonesia. 

Registered as UNPO members in 1991 included the South Maluku Republic (RMS), the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Free Papua Organization (OPM). East Timor became a member of UNPO in January 1993. So, it is clear that UNPO’s goal is to divide the Unitary Republic of Indonesia. 

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