Tentara Islam Indonesia and the Siliwangi in West Java: an uneasy cohabitation (December 1948-February 1949)

The Dutch operations prompted a new round of diplomatic negotiations, in which the Republican bargaining power was further weakened. Kartosuwiryo’s response to the situation was clear:

It will not be long before they sign a new treaty - this is the story of the Indonesian independence struggle - and this third treaty will decide the fate of the State of the Indonesian Republic. In our understanding, at that point the Republic won’t be anything more than a ‘Puppet State’ like those the Dutch have already established a while ago: Negara Indonesia Timur, ‘Negara’ Kalimantan, ‘Negara’ Pasoendan, and so forth. Thus, with the use of weapons, the Netherlands will force the Republican government, which has already been captured, to sign a treaty according to which all the state’s instruments will have to be abandoned [here anticipating the Roem-Van Royen statement of May 1949 ... ]. Because of this, there is nothing for the Indonesian Islamic community, especially those living in Republican territory, to do other than to be ready to accept God’s gift, to pursue a jihad fi Sabilillah, to oppose the enemy of Islam, the enemy of the State, and the enemy of God, and last but not least, to establish a State blessed and offered by God, an Islamic State of Indonesia.[1]

Kartosuwiryo’s disappointment with the Republican government is evident. However, it would be a mistake to argue that the Darul Islam maintained an ‘openly anti-Republican’ attitude, as Kahin and Boland have suggested.[2]

On 21 December 1948 Kartosuwiryo declared that the struggle for the Islamic state was ‘the continuation of the independence struggle, following on from and in line with the 17 August 1945 proclamation’. In this statement, Kartosuwiryo was placing the Darul Islam’s struggle on the same plane as Soekarno’s, rather than in opposition to it.[3] Two days later he renewed the Islamic state’s ‘state of war’, specifying that it involved only two contenders: the NII and the Dutch government. Between the two neither cooperation nor treaties were allowed, and ongoing diplomatic contact had to be ceased.[4] Kartosuwiryo was thus pledging to continue Soekarno’s struggle whilst he and his cabinet had been captured, and Republican forces were not identified as the enemy.

Following the Dutch offensive of December 1948, the Siliwangi Division crossed the Van Mook line, re-entering West Java and reigniting tensions between regular soldiers and Islamic militias, tensions about which Colonel Nasution was well aware.

The return of the Siliwangi Division to West Java stirred much commotion in DI-TII circles. In late January 1949, a new NII decree blamed Republican troops for abandoning the region and returning one year later, not as ‘guests’ of the Islamic state, but rather as rulers who expected to take charge of NII territory. The TNI was aware that the NII considered the return of the Siliwangi troops a breach of NII’s sovereignty,[5] and saw its soldiers as a tentara liar (wild, illegal militia), an ‘obstacle’ to the Islamic revolution and an enemy of the Islamic state.[6] The 25th ofJanu- ary - the day of this decree - is also considered by the Republican Army as the day when ‘the TNI betrayed the Tentara Islam Indonesia’. The aggression of the TNI on that day was taken as a sign of enmity towards the Tentara Islam Indonesia and the Islamic ummah.[7]

Even though January and February 1949 witnessed attacks on several TNI battalions by Islamic soldiers around Tasikmalaya, Cia- mis, Kuningan and Majalengka, clear rules of engagement prohibited the Islamic Army from killing Republican troops, who were only to be relieved of their equipment and then dispersed.[8]

Nevertheless, cases of cooperation continued to be reported. For example, TNI and TII troops stationed in Parigi, in the South Priangan, resolved to cooperate to ensure that all soldiers had food and weapons - the people’s predilection for Islamic militias remained a key element in ensuring their livelihood.[9] The beginning of the year saw cooperation in the Kuningan and Jakarta areas as well, to the extent that in Jakarta this cooperation gave rise to worries in the office of the Dutch Indies’ attorney general, which had received documentation proving that the Sjarif Hidajatullah Division of TII in Central Java had obtained ammunitions and weapons from the commander of the regional


But from April 1949 onwards, the TNI reportedly joined forces with the Dutch in an attempt to clear Darul Islam pockets in West Java.[11] What changed the relationship so swiftly and so dramatically?

  • [1] ‘Maklumat Negara Islam Indonesia no. 6’, 20 Safar 1368 AH/21 December 1948 CE in AlChaidar, Pemikiran politik, pp. 556-7. Here Kartosuwiryo anticipated the Roem-Van Royen statement, which was signed on 7 May 1949. Regulating the transfer of sovereignty, this agreementhad been heavily pushed for by the international community, as had the Renville Agreement.The international community had begun to tire of Dutch policies in the archipelago. An interesting account of these events, and of the reactions of the international community, is offeredby TIME Magazine, see ‘Regretfully obliged’, 27 December 1948; ‘So moves the world’, 3 January1949; ‘Merdeka!’, 10 January 1949; ‘What about the baby?’, 10 January 1949.
  • [2] Kahin, Nationalism and revolution, p. 330; Boland, The struggle of Islam, p. 58.
  • [3] ‘Maklumat Negara Islam Indonesia no. 6’, 20 Safar 1368 AH/21 December 1948 CE, in AlChaidar, Pemikiran politik, pp. 556-7.
  • [4] ‘Maklumat Negara Islam Indonesia no. 7’, 22 Safar 1368 AH/23 December 1948 CE, in AlChaidar, Pemikiran politik, pp. 558-9.
  • [5] ‘Maklumat no. 10 Siliwangi Djawa Barat’, 10 April 1949, AABRI DI no. 4. Kedatangan Tentarakita dianggap sebagai melanggar kedaulatan negara tsb [NII] berhubung memang Tentara kita bertugasuntuk membangun kembali Pemerintah republik di Jawa Barat.
  • [6] ‘Maklumat Negara Islam Indonesia Militer no. 1’, 25 January 1949, in Al Chaidar, Pemikiran politik, pp. 652-4.
  • [7] ‘Tanggal2 bersedjarah bagi Gerombolan D.I.’ [1952?], AABRI DI no. 14. TNI melakukanpenghianatan kepada Tentara Islam Indonesia.
  • [8] ‘Maklumat Negara Islam Indonesia Militer no. 1’, 25 January 1949, in Al Chaidar, Pemikiranpolitik, pp. 652-4.
  • [9] ‘Beknopt Politiek-Politioneel Verslag van de regentschappen Bandoeng, Garoet, Tasik-malaja, Tjiamis, Soemedang, Cheribon, Koeningan, Indramajoe, Madjalengka, Poerwakarta,Soekaboemi, Tjiandjoer en Buitenzorg, over de maand Februari 1949’, AMK:RI no. 285, NA
  • [10] ‘Aanbieding documenten betreffende TII- en TNI-aangelegenheden’, 21 September 1949,APG no. 907, NA.
  • [11] ‘Beknopt Politiek-Politioneel Verslag over de maand April 1949 van de regentschappen inde Negara’, AMKRI no. 285, NA.
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