DECLARING AN ISLAMIC STATE IN ‘OCCUPIED’ WEST JAVA (AUGUST 1949)
The Negara Islam Indonesia was rooted in the law of God and had its base in ‘Medina’. As had been anticipated in the Brosoer sikap hidjrah PSII and in Haloean politik Islam, this choice of toponym pointed to the city’s status as the destination of the hijrah, as a physical migration and a metaphoric transformation. Either way, Karto- suwiryo referred to the beginning of a new life for the ummah, one in full conformity with Islam. The NII extended across five regencies in West and Central Java: the Priangan (in Bandung, Garut, Tasikmalaya, Ciamis,and Sumedang districts), Cirebon (Cirebon city, Indramayu and Majalengka), Pekalongan (Brebes and Tegal), Banyumas and Bogor.
The NII had existed, de facto, since August 1948, when the first ‘announcement’ (or decree) bearing its name appeared. But the Islamic State proclamation of August 1949 represents the important transformation from a nebulously defined, idealized project to a meticulously detailed state with a blueprint for executive, legislative and judicial government institutions.
The former Masyumi branch of West Java had finally achieved the goal that the central party had set in 1945: the establishment of a republic that was based on Islam, implemented Islamic laws and directly controlled its territory. Success had only become possible in August 1949 after the ‘betrayals’ of the Republican government and the ummah’s many disappointments.
The circumstances that had enabled Kartosuwiryo and his partners to proclaim the NII were clearly explained in a political manifesto released a few weeks after the NII proclamation. In Kar- tosuwiryo’s eyes, this text was a direct result of the Roem-Van Royen statement, which had epitomized diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and the Indonesian Republic: the ceasefire, the Round Table Conference and sustained cooperation between the two parties. Kartosuwiryo’s objection to each and every point was grounded in political and historical considerations. He characterized Soekarno’s authority as that of a slave who had been turned into a king by the Devil, and his political strategy as weak, disillusioned and outdated. He believed Soekarno to only be capable of selling out his country to the foreign occupier.
Kartosuwiryo pointed out that Soekarno had risen to represent the entire archipelago, even though no other leader had delegated his decisional powers to the Republican cabinet. But when bullied by the Dutch, Soekarno could do nothing more than surrender
Indonesia’s sovereignty to them. The Federal Republic of Indonesia (RIS) was built on ‘fake’ authority, as it was a ‘gift’ from the colonial government and it still carried the shadow of Dutch control and supervision. Kartosuwiryo saw this dynamic as little more than a modern form of colonialism in the context of which Indonesia would only have been half-independent, as a dominion or a protectorate.
Kartosuwiryo’s rejection of anything short of de facto and de jure independence was reinforced by his open condemnation of Pakistan’s status as a British dominion. Soekarno’s debacle had caused the end of the Republican cabinet and the collapse of the ummah, but Kartosuwiryo saw these events as ‘a gift from God’ that had empowered the Darul Islam to proclaim the Islamic state.
The May ceasefire agreement was set to end hostilities on 1 August 1949. However, in Java, a fortnight passed before any real progress in ending the conflict was made. The Siliwangi Division pledged to obey the ceasefire and held meetings with local laskar to facilitate the transfer of authority and the troops’ incorporation into the Republican Army. Although the Antara news service reported that TII and TNI troops around Ciamis had initially agreed to abide by the ceasefire and would ‘cooperate in wiping out irresponsible elements’, this solution was not embraced by every Darul Islam cell, as in the last weeks of August its militias continued to attack the Dutch, the TNI and, reportedly, also the civilian population in the Cirebon area and west of Jakarta. It was in this charged political environment that Hatta left Jakarta to attend the Round Table Conference in The Hague, lasting until November 1949.