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TheDI: A scheme of ‘(D)utch (I)nfiltration’

The Indonesian press was unimpressed by the Dutch argument, and, as mentioned above, it often found valid counter-evidence to the ‘communist Darul Islam’ argument. The press instead argued that behind the group’s expansion, and behind its most violent acts, were Dutch officers who were exploiting the current situation to destabilize the Republic and retain control over the colony.

During the 1945-49 period, some Dutch officers deserted the Royal Army to join Indonesian soldiers in support of various rebellious movements in the archipelago. The best known case is that of Captain ‘Turk’ Westerling, who had earned notoriety during his deployment in South Sulawesi and who, after the transfer of sovereignty, became the leader of an anti-Republican, pro-regional government army in West Java - the aforementioned Angkatan Perang Ratu Adil, or APRA. Mostly because of the territorial overlapping of Darul Islam and APRA activities, in early 1950 the Republican Army and the press became convinced that the two were working together. What is more, they believed that behind the Darul Islam’s antagonism against Soekarno were the Dutch.

At the opening of the RIS parliament in February 1950, Soek- arno ‘blamed the groups that are staining the name of Islam with cruel and violent actions’. And Tempo magazine glossed:

What the President meant was the Darul Islam. Who pursues these

cruelties though, whether it is really Kartosuwiryo’s Darul Islam or a ‘(D)utch (I)nfiltration’, is difficult to tell, perhaps because members of the DI-Kartosuwiryo pursue violent acts too, as its members have received incorrect information and thus bear a grudge towards those who are now considered their enemies.

The article continued that

it is known that at the beginning the DI was against the TNI because it felt abandoned in the occupied areas after the first Military Action [the July 1947 Dutch invasion] - yet the TNI had only abandoned some pockets. This resistance will increase, mostly because of the dangerous rumours that vilify the TNI. This is not an impossible development in the context of the propaganda conducted by reactionary groups like Westerling, which indeed envisage fragmentation and animosity amongst us.[1]

In the following years this argument was further refined, and as more NII documents showing the involvement of former Dutch officers became available, the government grew increasingly convinced that foreign, reactionary elements had infiltrated the regional uprisings. In 1956 it was even speculated that following protests from within the Darul Islam leadership, Kartosuwiryo could have been replaced as imam by Van Kleef, a former KNIL officer who had been in the ranks of the Darul Islam since 1949.[2]

Almost thirty years later, in 1977, a Siliwangi publication interpreted the Darul Islam as an extension of the colonial attempt to destabilize the newly established Republic, mildly admitting a possible underlying religious motive for the movement.[3] One year later, the head of the Siliwangi Division, General Nasution, published his multi-volume history of the independence struggle, in which he openly attacked Kartosuwiryo as the internal enemy in the struggle against colonial oppression.[4]

  • [1] ‘Bhinneka tunggal ika harus merupakan kenjataan’, Majalah Tempo, 26 February 1950.Soekarno’s quote also from Tempo.
  • [2] Kementerian Penerangan, Republik Indonesia, pp. 213-35; ‘Gerombolan di Djawa Barat’,28 September 1956, AABRI DI no. 23. More on Van Kleef’s involvement in the Darul Islam canbe found in Jackson, Traditional authority and national integration, pp. 428-32.
  • [3] The book included a picture of Westerling’s troops entering Bandung with the caption:‘On 23 January 1950, the APRA troops of the Just Prince entered Bandung to experiment withthe establishment of the Islamic state of Indonesia (NII) with Bandung as capital city or to tryto bring down the Pasoendan puppet state conceived of by Van Mook.’ Madewa, Esa hilang duaterbilang, p. 92.
  • [4] Abdul Haris Nasution, Sekitar perang kemerdekaan Indonesia (Bandung: Angkasa, 1978)pp. 15-6.
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