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