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Reaching out: Promoting the common goal

With the TNI officially evacuated from West Java, the Islamic Army supplied the only organized anti-Dutch troops. Although they were not the only ‘irregulars’ operating in the province, the NII was establishing itself as a regional political institution with links to the centre, whilst the various laskar did not have a central leadership. In October 1948 the Dutch Army labelled Kasman Singodimedjo, Sangadji and Anwar Tjokroaminoto as the Jakarta supporters of the Tasikmalaya- based Darul Islam,[1] and in December of that year Kartosuwiryo himself announced that Abikoesno and Anwar Tjokroaminoto were ‘representatives of the NII in the Republican territories’.[2]

As the DI-TII affirmed its position in the Priangan as a military and civilian institution, Kartosuwiryo and his aides saw an opportunity to reach out to the Republican government to ask for recognition of their successes against the Dutch and for support in continuing the struggle.

On 3 October 1948, K.H. Zainal Hasan Thoha (political chief of MOI in Ciamis) and Nur Lubis (the Batak commander of TII’s 3rd Battalion in Tasikmalaya and Ciamis) sent letters to Muhammad Natsir (at that time Minister of Information), the chief of the Republican delegation in Yogyakarta, Mohammad Roem, and the vice-president, Mohammad Hatta.[3] These three letters appealed for material help - namely, weapons - from the Republic, expressing the ‘hope’ that the Republic would be interested in West Java’s struggle against the occupying forces.

Each letter tackled the issue in a way that was tailored to the character and position of the recipient. The letter to Roem was a direct and bare-boned request for moral, political and material support, sweetened by the hopes of this Islamic State’s commanders that Roem would not let the rebellion go unknown in Republican circles.[4] The other two letters, on the other hand, went to great lengths to explain why a guerrilla movement had been organized on Mount Cupu, with Natsir even addressed as an ally:

As a Muslim, surely you must be happy about this rebellious Muslim movement in West Java, and that the great strength that you have often mentioned as being with the Muslim group is indeed real. Unfortunately, this government, led by a leftist coalition, does not care about it, and its strength cannot be used to stop the Dutch aggression. This rebellion in West Java shows that Muslims truly love independence. With a few rifles and firm faith, the rebellion started on Mount Cupu on 17 February [1948].[5]

Hatta’s letter presented him with the matter-of-fact statement that ‘the future of the occupied areas lies 99% with the result of this rebellion’, and that the only reason for Yogyakarta’s independence was TII’s activity in West Java. The Darul Islam had no naive expectations of receiving any substantial material help from the Republic. But it used this opportunity to remind the Republican leadership that it should not forget that many Indonesians were still under foreign rule, in part because of the decisions made by the Yogya- karta government, and that, as the Siliwangi Division had taken the ‘good and heavy weapons’ into Republican areas, the Darul Islam could not guarantee a quick victory in West Java.[6] Their requests went unheeded.

On 19 December 1948 the Dutch Army invaded Central Java, entered Yogyakarta and captured the president, the vice-president, the head of KNIP and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.[7] This was a serious setback to the creation of an independent state of Indonesia, and it also greatly contributed to the shaping of Darul Islam- Republik Indonesia relations.

  • [1] ‘Beknopt Politiek-Politioneel Verslag der vreemdelingen- en inlichtingen Dienst (VID),no. 10/1948’, APG no. 1068, NA.
  • [2] ‘Maklumat Negara Islam Indonesia no. 6’, 20 Safar 1368 AH/21 December 1948 CE, in AlChaidar, Pemikiranpolitik, pp. 556-7.
  • [3] The last two letters were said to be copies of ones previously sent, which had gone unanswered and were thus deemed not to have been received.
  • [4] Letter to P.T. Mr. Muhammad Rum Ketua Delegasi Republik Indonesia di Yogyakarta fromPimpinan Ummat Islam Kabupaten Tjiamis KH Zainal Hasan Thoha and Tentara Islam Indonesia Bat. III Res. I Div. I Komandan Bat. III Muhammad Nur Lubis, 3 October 1948, JogjaDocno. 150, ANRI.
  • [5] Letter to J.M. Muhammad Natsir Menteri Penerangan Republik Indonesia di Yogyakartafrom Pimpinan Ummat Islam Kabupaten Tjiamis KH Zainal Hasan Thoha and Tentara IslamIndonesia Bat. III Res. I Div. I Komandan Bat. III Muhammad Nur Lubis, 3 October 1948, Jog-jaDoc no. 150, ANRI.
  • [6] Letter to PJ.M. Wkl. Presiden Republik Indonesia Drs. Mohammad Hatta di Yogyakartafrom Pimpinan Ummat Islam Kabupaten Tjiamis KH Zainal Hasan Thoha and Tentara IslamIndonesia Bat. III Res. I Div. I Komandan Bat. III Muhammad Nur Lubis, 3 October 1948, Jog-jaDoc no. 150, ANRI. Quote also from this letter.
  • [7] Ricklefs, A history, p. 230.
 
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