The nationalist movement of Indonesia emerged simultaneously with the emergence of Asia’s nationalism which was considered as a reaction against Western colonialism. National movement which occurred in other parts of Asia had inspired Indonesian nationalists. Indonesia’s nationalism spirit arose and showed its strength against the Dutch colonialism in the early 20th century. This nationalism spirit emerged as a reaction of Indonesian people against imperialism due to oppression, injustice and violation of human rights as well as discrimation of the Dutch colonial power indicated against the Indonesian people.
One of the means in which the Indonesian nation faced against the colonial government was establishing organizations. Through organizations, the struggle was shown in the forms of demands to the government as well as among the nation itself. There were political organizations such as Budi Utomo (1908), Sarekat Islam (1912) and Indische Partij (1912). There were also religious organizations such as Muhammadiyah (1912), Al-Irsyad and Indonesian Arab Party (1914), Javanese Catholic Association (1925) as well as Nahdlatul Ulama (1926), and educational organization such as Taman Siswa (1922).
Political movement in Indonesia could not be separated from the political movement which was driven by Indonesian youths who were studying in the Netherlands organized in an association called Perhimpunan Indonesia (Association of Indonesia). The movement of the Association in the Netherlands was very vocal in voicing the independence of Indonesia by way of implementing national action and believing in their own strength. The Association of Indonesia was a movement which was capable of generating goals and ideals against imperialism and colonialism as well as holding an important position in the movement of Indonesian nationalist movement during 1922-1927. Ideals of the Association of Indonesia encouraged the birth of parties in Indonesia which were based on nationalism and aimed at the independence of Indonesia such as Indonesian Nationalist Party (Partai Nasional Indonesia, 1927), Party of Indonesia (Partindo, 1931), Indonesian National Education (Pendidikan Nasional Indonesia, 1931) and Great Indonesia Party (Partai Indonesia Raya, 1935) as well as women movement led by Raden Ajeng Kartini in 1904 and Dewi Sartika in 1925.
Nationalism movement in Indonesia has increasingly developed since the establishment of Budi Utomo on 20 May 1908 by Dr. Wahidin Sudirohusodo, Sutomo and colleagues. In its development, Budi Utomo introduced local awareness which was formulated in a modern organization with clear leadership and ideology. The birth of Budi Utomo was considered as the awakening of Indonesian culture and the first phase of Indonesian nationalism.
Other historical momentum which was equally important was Sumpah Pemuda (Youth Pledge) on 28 October 1928. Sumpah Pemuda was a chrystalization of all aspirations and ideals of the people of Indonesia at that moment to unify and liberate themselves from the colonial power. The foundation of Sumpah Pemuda contained in its trilogy of one nation, one people, one language.
On 4 July 1927 Soekarno formulated the Marhaenism doctrine and established PNI (Indonesian Nationalist Party) with the aim to liberate the people of Indonesia. Soekarno was arrested by the Dutch then sent to an 8 months’ imprisonment in Sukamiskin, Bandung. In his defence which was known as “Indonesia Sue”, Soekarno even caused a greater outrage and the Dutch dispersed PNI in July 1930. Soekarno was not discouraged, he then joined Partindo (Party of Indonesia) and became its leader. As a result, he was arrested again by the Dutch and sent to exile in Ende, Flores in 1933. After 4 years of exile in Ende with his family, he was moved to Bengkulu in 1938.
Soekarno suffered tremendous pains. For someone who was accustomed to the life rhythm of struggle, Ende was like the door of death. In Java, Soekarno’s spirit had amalgamated with the revolution. In Ende, in addition to his loneliness, no friends to have discussions with, no masses to listen to his speeches, Soekarno was depressed. “In Flores my spirit is in prison”. However, Soekarno rebelled against the fate inflicted on him by anyone, including the Dutch colonial power.
Living in exile ultimately set a precedent for Soekarno. During his exile in Ende, Soekarno gave birth to the concept of Pancasila through a long period of contemplation in search of life spirituality. Contemplation which was conducted under the breadfruit tree in a football field overlooking the sea. In Ende, Soekarno had an opportunity to finalize his ideas on the foundation of struggle for Indonesia’s independence. The foundation later found its final form as Pancasila.
On 8 March 1942 the commander of the Dutch army surrended unconditionally. Thus, the Dutch surrended all regions of the Dutch East Indies to the Japanese government. On that day, the Japanese occupation on the people of Indonesia begun.
Cooperation between Indonesian and Japanese leaders formed at the end of 1942 in a commission to investigate the Indonesian customs. The commission consisted of 13 Japanese officials and Indonesian national leaders such as Soekarno, Mohammad Hatta, K.H Mas Mansyur, Ki Hajar Dewantara, Sutarjo Kartohadikusumo, Abikusno Tjokrosujoso and Prof. Dr. Supomo. On 6 April 1943 a new movement called the Center of People’s Power (Pusat Tenaga Rakyat or Putera) was established by the Japanese to persuade the secular nationalists and intelectuals to dedicate their energy and thoughts to serve the Japanese war efforts. Putera movement consisted of four prominent nationalists such as Soekarno, Mohammad Hatta, K. H. Mas Mansyur and Ki Hajar Dewantara.
During its development, this movement was more beneficial to Indonesia than the Japanese. As such, a new and completely different organization from Putera was formed and named Hokokai (Javanese Worship Association). The Japanese government managed to restrain Indonesia’s national movement. However they did not succeed to control the national awareness development within the nation of Indonesia which prompted the uprisings against the Japanese, such as Cot Plieng rebellion led by Tengku Abdul Jalil, Indramayu rebellion led by Haji Andriyan and Sukamanah rebellion led by K. H. Zainal Mustafa.
The next uprising was spearheaded by members of military organization PETA in Blitar under the leadership of Suryadi on 14 February 1945 as they could no longer endure the suffering of the people under the Japanese government particularly its romusha system. These youths who were members of PETA later became the core driving force of the struggle of the people of Indonesia in achieving its independence.
In its efforts to strengthen its position in Indonesia, the Japanese government promised full independence for the nation of Indonesia if the people of Indonesia would actively participate to defend Indonesia from the threats of allies. The Japanese were also willing to appoint the sons of Indonesia to hold important positions. Eventually, political influence of Japanese occupation was very beneficial for the Indonesian struggle for independence. The Japanese political government which was too harsh and vicious had raised awareness and high national spirit amongst politicians, youth and religious leaders.
At the end of 1942, the position of the Japanese troops begun to retreat. The Japanese government decided to grant Burma and the Phillippines their independence which came as a surprise for Indonesian nationalist leaders. Consequently, Soekarno and Hatta filed a protest to the Japanese by stating that they would not be responsible in recruiting Indonesians to support Japan in the Great East Asian War. In response to protests and threats from Indonesian nationalist leaders, the Japanese government took a decision to suspend the implementation of independence of Burma and the Phillippines.
Towards Indonesia, political participation policy was preferred by giving an active role to Indonesian leaders within government institutions such as Central Advisory Council (Chuo Sangi In) and Residency Advisory Council (Shu Sangi Kai). Meanwhile, the position of Japan in the Pacific war was increasingly pressured since a very strategic Saipan Island fell into the hands of the US forces in July 1944 as well as other defeats the Japanese suffered in other areas of war. Then on 9 September 1944, the Japanese government had promised to grant independence to the people of Indonesia and allowed Indonesian flag to fly side by side with the Japanese flag.
On 1 March 1945, the Japanese government announced the establishment of a special agency in charge of investigating the preparation efforts of Indonesian independence called Dokuritzu Zyunbi Koosakai or the Investigating Committee for the Preparation of Indonesian Independence (BPUPKI).
The agency aimed to investigate and prepare for important matters concerning governance issues of Indonesian independence. This agency was chaired by KRT Radjiman Widyodiningrat consisted of 60 Indonesian leaders and 7 Japanese officials. This investigating agency was officially formed on 29 May 1945 and conducted an assembly which took place from 29 May 1945 to 1 June 1945. The assembly discussed about the basic philosophy of Indonesia, known as Pancasila. The leaders who proposed the five foundations of Indonesian independence were Muhammad Yamin, Supomo and Soekarno.
On 22 June 1945, nine members which consisted of Soekarno, Mohammad Hatta, Muhammad. Yamin, Ahmad Subardjo, A. A. Maramis, Abdulkahar Muzakar, Wachid Hasyim, H. Agus Salim and Abikusno Tjokrosujoso established a Committee of Nine or Small Committee and produced a document containing the principles and objectives of Indonesia Merdeka known as the Jakarta Charter.
The Jakarta Charter comprises five principles:
The Jakarta Charter later became the Preamble of the Constitution of 1945 which consisted of four paragraphs that contained Pancasila in the last paragraph. Seven words in the first principle of the Jakarta Charter were removed after a deliberation in response to the proposal of the representatives of Eastern Indonesia and for the sake of the national unity of Indonesia.
After completing its duties, BPUPKI was once again dispersed and replaced by the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI) or Dokuritsu Junbi Iinkai on 7 August 1945 which consisted of 21 members. On 9 August 1945, the three leaders of Indonesia, Soekarno, Mohammad Hatta and Radjiman Widyodiningrat departed to Saigon to be summoned by the Southeast Asia Commander Marshal Terauchi to receive information on Indonesia’s independence, to establish PPKI and that the Indonesia territory would include former colonies of the Dutch. At that time, the second bomb has been dropped in Nagasaki on 9 August 1945 and Russia has declared war against Japan and invaded Manchuria on 10 August 1945. On 14 August 1945 the Japanese surrendered to the allies unconditionally.
Direction of the movement of Indonesian struggle has arrived at the gate which led them towards freedom as highlight of the entire series of events traversed over the years which were built with full awareness since 1908. The culmination of this struggle was the Proclamation of Independence on 17 August 1945 proclaimed by Soekarno and Hatta in front of Soekarno’s residence on Jalan Pengangsaan Timur No. 56, Jakarta. Formulation of the proclamation text was derived from the ideas of Soekarno, Hatta and Ahmad Subandrio conducted in the house of Admiral Tadashi Maeda. The proclamation text was signed by them as representatives of the nation of Indonesia.
This proclamation speech by Soekarno was followed by the raising of the flag hand-stitched by Soekarno’s wife, Fatmawati. The next day, on the 18th of August 1945 at the assembly of PPKI, Soekarno and Hatta were elected by acclamation the first president and vice president of the Republic of Indonesia. Prior to that on 1 June 1945, Soekarno and his colleagues had formulated one ideology or state foundation which became today’s guideline or reference of Indonesian nation, Pancasila.
However, the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence on 17 August 1945 was not an end point of the struggle for independence but a starting point of the struggle of the people of Indonesia in maintaining and filling in the independence. The Proclamation of the Indonesian Independence was the turning point as one nation with one language living in one state to build Indonesia together.