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OPERATION ‘ANNIHILATE’

The weakness of the unitary Republic and the presence of a strong, regionalized army led to the collapse of the parliamentary system, giving birth to the ‘Guided Democracy’. After seven short-lived min?isterial cabinets composed by formateurs appointed by Soekarno, the one parliamentary election - held ten years after the proclamation of independence - never resulted in the establishment of a cabinet. Instead, the constitutional assembly was dissolved, and by decree Soekarno re-instated the 1945 Constitution, without amendments, in 1959.

It is this transition that the Army Historical Office sees as pivotal in allowing the convergence of political and military views on the Darul Islam, as well as the development of an organized and systematic response to the rebellion. The order to begin the Gerakan Operasi Penumpasan (Operation ‘Annihilate’) against the DI-TII/ SMK - as it was commonly referred to - was issued in 1958 (with Per- aturan Pemerintah no. 59), but the first few months of the operation were dedicated to studying the movement and elaborating an anti-guerrilla strategy.

The ‘passive-defensive’ approach, based on stationary deployment of troops, was abandoned in 1959, and the Siliwangi Division moved onto an ‘active-offensive’ technique that made use of mobile units. When it became evident that Republican troops - including additional battalions from the Diponegoro and Brawijaya divisions - were unable to overcome the TII, in 1960 the civilian population was forcibly co-opted to participate in the Pagar Betis operation. The operation’s name, which means ‘Human Fence’, is a direct reference to its primary technique. Civilians were arranged in a long line, each man standing 5-10 metres away from the other, to form a net that would slowly proceed upward from the base of the mountain, cutting supplies and isolating Darul Islam units. An additional advantage for the regular soldiers was that the Islamic militias were now forced to fire upon civilians; the Human Fence also worked as a human shield. The operations spanned between December 1959 and 1965 in West and Central Java, peaking in 1962, when most of the leaders, including Kartosuwiryo, were arrested or executed.[1]

Military documents suggest that in late 1961, the army and the Minister of National Security, General Nasution, set out detailed instructions for the categorization and treatment of surrendering rebels. The list of names shows how the military were making political decisions. Importantly, whoever had been involved in the regionalist rebellions was labelled persona non grata. The available list include former rebels of national calibre who enjoyed broad influence on the people, regional leaders who had become intellectuals in the rebellion and who also had a broad influence in their regions and regional followers who had local authority. The list featured prominent Masyumi and army figures suspected of plotting the attack on Soekarno in Jakarta, including Muhammad Natsir, Colonel Zulkifli Lubis and Burhanuddin Harahap, as well as the officers involved in the Permesta and PRRI rebellions, and Darul Islam leaders Kahar Mudzakkar, Daud Beureueh and Kartosuwiryo (all of them listed as ‘national leaders’).[2] Even in late 1962 Sjafruddin, Muhammad Natsir, Zulkifli Lubis and Daud Beureueh were kept under surveillance and under house arrest as political prisoners; the only exception was Kahar Mudzakkar, who had not surrendered and had once again fled to the jungle.[3]

Kartosuwiryo was captured on 4 June 1962 by Colonel Ibrahim Ajie. The stories about this encounter are many, manufactured on both sides to further substantiate divergent myths and legends. After an accelerated trial, Kartosuwiryo was executed on 12 September 1962, without his family ever seeing either the body or the grave.

  • [1] Dinas Sejarah TNI, PenumpasanpemberontakanD.I./T.I.I., pp. 124-5; details on the pagar betisoperation are from Van Dijk, Rebellion under the banner of Islam, pp. 124-5.
  • [2] ‘Instruksi Menteri Keamanan Nasional no III/B/0056/61, General TNI A.H. Nasution,AABRI DI no. 33.
  • [3] ‘Saran dalam bidang Follow up Keamanaan, masalah pemberontakan dan gerombolanjang menjerah’, AABRI DI no. 33.
 
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