‘Silently resorting to great military force’

Meanwhile, the movement for a unitary state was gaining enough political support in Jakarta that in March 1950 the Hatta Cabinet issued an emergency decree stating the possibility for federal states and territories to merge into the Yogyakarta-based Republic of Indonesia. Republican propaganda in favour of the unitary state was articulated in the rhetoric of the country’s colonial legacy. This discourse was marked by the condemnation of arbitrary boundaries, a heavy and confusing administrative apparatus and, above all, the suppression of the spirit of nationalism that had driven the revolution.

The process of unification did not proceed smoothly, as demonstrations ensued in both pro- and anti-unification camps, which often deteriorated into violence. Even though some territorial entities had been incorporated into the Republic as early as January 1950, other regions - such as West Java, Aceh, South Maluku, Kalimantan and South Sulawesi - continued to fight for autonomy until the late 1950s and mid 1960s (or even later, as in the case of Aceh). By May 1950 the Hatta Cabinet had concluded that, in Herbert Faith’s words, ‘A unitary state had to be achieved quickly’.[1]

The first statement to openly condemn the tactics of the cabinet and the army against the Darul Islam was issued by a small group named Angkatan Muslim Sedar, or Amusa, about which little is known. The Amusa statement argued that such treatment should be reserved for Westerling and his APRA troops (Ang- katan Perang Ratu Adil, Army of the Just King), which were a ‘deviation’ and had nothing in common with the ‘holy aim’ of Kartosuwiryo’s Darul Islam, the essence of whose struggle should be valued.[2] In a similar tone, Masyumi accused the government of ignoring its requests to approach the Darul Islam with ‘peace and compromise’ and instead ‘silently resorting to great military force’. The government was blamed for giving too much autonomy to the army, more often than not endangering the civilian population.[3]

In May 1950, PSII leader Wondoamiseno - representing the working committee of KNIP - questioned the RIS parliament on its approach to the Darul Islam. Wondoamiseno strongly criticized the government’s decision to use military force and the army’s inability to limit civilian casualties. He voiced his disapproval of the fact that Muslims in the Priangan and Pekalongan had stopped praying and attending mosques for fear that soldiers would arrest those displaying the kind of ‘pious’ attitude to religion that might mark them as Darul Islam sympathizers. Won- doamiseno concluded by requesting that the government make public the numbers of those arrested and their arrest reports to determine whether they had really been Darul Islam members or not.[4] At around the same time, the PSII’s frustration towards the government reached its peak. After recognizing that the party’s institutional and individual support for a peaceful solution had generated no results, PSII’s central committee resolved to instruct its branches and members to remove themselves from any bodies that had been set up to solve the Darul Islam problem, thereby rejecting any further responsibility for the problem or for its solution.[5]

  • [1] Feith, The decline, p. 68.
  • [2] ‘Angkatan Muslim Sedar “Amusa", perihal Darul Islam dipolisionir, General Secretary S.Ridjaluddin, 24 March 1950, KabPerd no. 150, ANRI. The APRA was led by Captain Westerling,a defecting Dutch officer who first led rebels in South Sulawesi and then moved to West Java,where in January 1950 they occupied Bandung. For more on the APRA, see Chapter 6.
  • [3] ‘Statement Masjumi tentang perisitiwa “Darul Islam”’, Ketua Dewan Pimpinan Partai Mas-jumi Moh. Natsir, 23 April 1950, KabPerd no. 150, ANRI.
  • [4] ‘Kutipan pertanjaan-pertanjaan anggauta-anggauta badan pekerdja Komite Nasional Pusatkepada Pemerintah untuk didjawab pada harti-pertanjaan sidang ke-V tahun 1950; mengenaiKementerian Dalam Negeri, dari anggauta W. Wondoamiseno (PSII)’, KabPerd no. 150, ANRI.
  • [5] ‘Sikap PSII terhadap penjelesaian soal Darul Islam’, 4 May 1950, RIS no. 107, ANRI.
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