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Nationalist Movements

The Powerless People's Council or Volksraad
Restrictions of Civil Liberties
Further Growth of Indonesian Organizations
The Indonesian Petition

When all these regional wars of independence failed, Indonesian nationalists began thinking of a more-organized struggle against Dutch colonialism. The move began with the founding-of Boedi Oetomo, literally meaning "noble conduct," on May 20, 1908. This organization of Indonesian intellectuals was initially set up for educational purposes but later turned to politics. It was inspired by Japan's victory over Russia in 1901, which also gave impetus to nationalist movements in many parts of Indonesia. The founder of Boedi Oetomo was Dr. Soetomo, who was, at the time, a student of STOVIA, an institution of train Indonesian medical officers. Dr. Soetomo was greatly influenced by Dr. Waiting Soedirohoesodo and supported by Gunawan and Suradji.

In 1912 Sarekat Dagang Islam, the Association of Moslem Merchants, was formed by Haji Samanhudi and others. Its objective was at first to stimulate and promote the interest of Indonesian business in the Dutch East Indies. However, in 1912 this organization of middle class businessmen turned into a political party and was renamed Sarekat Islam under the leadership of H.O.S. Tjokroaminoto, Haji Agoes Salim and others. In 1912 a progressive Moslem organization, Muhammadiyah, was established by K.H. Akhmad Dahlan in Yogyakarta for the purpose of social and economic reforms.

In December of the some year Partai Indonesia was founded by Douwes Dekker, later named Setiabudi, with Dr. Tjipto Mangunkusumo and Ki Hajar Dewantoro. The objective of the party was to strive for complete independence of Indonesia. All three leaders of the party were exiled by the colonial government in 1913. In 1914 communism was introduced in the East Indies by three Dutch nationals-Sneevliet, Baars and Brandsteder. In May 1920 Sarikat Islam split into a right and a left wing, the later was to become the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party) under the leadership of Semaun, Darsono, Alimin, Muso and others.

The Powerless People's Council or Volksraad

In 1916 Sarikat Islam held its first convention in Bandung and resolved the demand self-government for Indonesia in cooperation with the Dutch. When Sarikat Islam demanded a share in the legislative power in the colony, the Dutch responded by setting up the Volksraad in 1918, which was virtually a powerless people's council with an advisory status. Indonesian representatives on the council were indirectly elected through regional councils, but some of the other members were appointed colonial officials.

The Volksraad later developed into a semi-legislative assembly. Among the members of this body were prominent nationalist leaders like Dr. Tjipto Mangunkusumo, H.O.S. Tjokroaminoto, Abdul Muis, Dr. G.S.S.J. Ratulangi, M.H. Thamrin, Wiwoho, Sutardjo Kartohadikusumo, Dr. Radjiman, and Soekardjo Wiryopronoto. Under the pressure of the social unrest in the Netherlands at the end of World War 1, the Dutch promised to grant self-government to Indonesians. This was known as the "November promise." It was a promise that never met. Besides the Volksraad, there was another body called Raad van Indie, "the Council of the Indies," whose members were appointed by the Government Achmad Djajadiningrat and Sujono were among the very few Indonesian members of this council.

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Restrictions of Civil Liberties

In 1923 deteriorating economic conditions and increasing labor strikes prompted the colonial government to put severe restrictions on Indonesian civil liberties and make amendments to the colonial laws and penal codes. Freedom of assembly, speech and expression in writing was restricted.

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Further Growth of Indonesian Organizations

Despite the political restrictions, on July 3, 1922 Ki Hajar Dewantoro founded Taman Siswa, an organization to promote national education. In 1924 the Indonesian Students Association, "Perhimpunan Mahasiswa Indonesia," was formed by Drs. Mohammad Hatta, Dr. Sukiman and others. This organization became a driving force of the nationalist movement to gain independence.

The Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) staged revolts against the colonial government in November 1926 in West Java, and in January 1927 in West Sumatra. After their suppression the Government exiled many non-communist nationalist leaders to Tanah Merah, which the Dutch called "Boven Digul" in Irian Jaya. Dr. Tjipto Mangunkusumo was exiled to Bandaneira. In February 1927 Mohammad Hatta, Achmad Soebardjo and other members of lndonesia's Movements attended the first international convention of the "League Against Imperialism and Colonial Oppression" in Brussels, together with Jawaharlal Nehru and many other prominent nationalist leaders from Asia and Africa.

In July 1927, Soekarno, Sartono and others formed the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI), which adopted Bahasa Indonesia as the official language. This party adopted a militant policy of non-cooperation with the Government as the result of a fundamental conflict of interest between Indonesian nationalism and Dutch colonialism. In the same year, and all-Indonesia nationalist movement was organized by Indonesian youth and women to replace earlier organizations, which had been based regionalism, such as "Young Java," "Young Sumatra" and "Young Ambon." On October 28, 1928, delegates to the second Indonesian Youth Congress in Jakarta pledge allegiance to "one country, one nation and one language, Indonesia." Meanwhile, the Technical Faculty was set up in Bandung in1920, and the Law Faculty was opened in Jakarta in 1924 to replace the former Law School. The Medical Faculty was opened in Jakarta in 1927 to replace the old Medical School. Except for the Technical Faculty in Bandung, all the faculties in Jakarta were merged in the University of Indonesia in 1964 in independent Indonesia.

Concerned about the growing national awareness of freedom, the colonial authorities arrested the PNI leader, Soekarno, in December 1929. This touched off widespread protests by Indonesians. In 1930 the world was in the grip of an economic and monetary crisis. The severe impact of the crisis was felt in the Indies, a raw material producing country. The colonial government responded with a strict balance budget policy that aggravated economic and social conditions. Two other leaders of the PNI, Gatot Mangkupradja and Maskun Supriadinata, were arrested and tried in court on charges of plotting against the Government. Soekarno was released in September 1931 but exiled again in August 1933. He remained in Dutch custody until the Japanese invasion in 1942.

In January 1931, Dr. Soetomo founded Persatuan Bangsa Indonesia, the Indonesian Unity Party. Its objective was to improve the social status of the Indonesian people. In April of the same year, PNI was abandoned. A new party was formed by Sartono, LLM and named Partai Indonesia, the Indonesian Party. Its basis was nationalism, its line was independence. Also in 1931, Sutan Syahrir formed Pendidikan Nasional Indonesia. Known as the new PNI, it envisaged national education. Mohammad Hatta joined this organization.

In 1933 a mutiny broke out on the Dutch warship "De Zeven Provincien" for which Indonesian nationalists were held responsible. The following year Sutan Syahrir and Mohammad Hatta and other nationalist leaders were arrested and banished until1942. In 1935, Soetomo merged Persatuan Bangsa Indonesia and Boedi Oetomo to form Partai Indonesia Raya (Parindra). Its fundamental goal was the independence of Great Indonesia.

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The Indonesian Petition

In July 1936, Sutardio submitted to the "Volksraad" a petition calling for greater autonomy for Indonesia. This petition was flatly rejected by the Dutch-dominated Council. In 1937 Dr. A.K. Gani started the Indonesian People's Movement, Gerakan Rakyat Indonesia, which was based on the principles of nationalism, social independence and self-reliance.

In 1939 the All Indonesian Political Federation, GAPI, called for the establishment of a full-fledged Indonesian parliament. This demand was rejected by the Government in Holland in 1940. GAPI also demanded an Indonesian military service for the purpose of defending the country in times of war. Again, this was turned down, notwithstanding the impending outbreak of World War II. At the time, there were widespread movements for fundamental and progressive reforms in the colonies and dependencies in Asia.

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