The Defense Committee of Indonesian Independence in Middle East Part 1

It is interesting to compare many student associations that grew along national awakening period, especially to Association of Indonesia (PI), which was founded by Indonesian students in the Netherlands. In Indonesian historiography, PI has been exclusively be the only organization in the struggle for Indonesian independence abroad that extensively written on the Indonesian National History books and history school textbooks. History books describe PI look like as the only student association in abroad. Similar to that, historiography of Indonesian education is also write nothing about other student association in abroad. Through not mention or write other students associations abroad, they are look like want to close minds of Indonesian from historical facts that organizations for independence were developed in various countries. Or, if not hiding the facts, historian at least discourses that the only PI which is appropriate to be written on Indonesian historiography.

One of the interesting student Association is The Defense Committee of Indonesian Independence in Middle East (Panitia Pembela Kemerdekaan Indonesia or in Arabic language called as Lajnatud Difa’i ‘Anistiqlali Indonesia). Middle East is known as Muslim countries and Indonesia, although located in South East Asia, is the most Muslim populous country. The similarities of religion make Indonesia and Middle East have a strong emotional bond. From this point of view, Committee that was raised by Indonesians who live in Middle East has good bargaining positions that could be used to fight West, especially Dutch agencies there. The consequence of the strategics position made Indonesian students’ movement in the Middle East more dynamic. For example, when the Padri war exploded in Minangkabau, three Indonesian students, Haji Piabang, and Haji Sumanik, were went back home to their homeland. They lead their people in the war, fought back to Dutch penetration at Minangkabau area.

Another example is when the Islamic Association stood in Solo in the early twentieth century. The Association is the first national movement organization based on religion.

In early period of Indonesian national awakening, one of political parties in attempt to liberate Indonesia from colonization, is Islamic Association (Syarikat Islam). Netherlands-Indie colonial government uses an Arabic descendant from Jati Petamburan, Jakarta, in order to write a book that aims to prohibit all Muslims in becoming members of the Association. Title of the book is Kafful Awwam An Islamic Syarikatil (Prohibition for common people to become member of the the Islamic Association).

To oppose the poisonous book, in 1912, a teacher that came from Bukit Tinggi, West Sumatra, named Sheikh Ahmad Khatib, an expert in Islamic Religious and was appointed by the Sharif of Mecca to became the Imam and Khatib of Masjidil Haram, took an revenge action. Sheikh Ahmad Khatib wrote a book titled Hassul ‘Awwam ‘Alad Dukhuli fi Syarikatil Islam (Letting common people to become member of Islamic Association). (Hassan, M. Zein, 1980, 24)

At the beginning of the thirties, in Egypt, was born Indonesian national movement organization that solely for political activities named Association of the Great Indonesia (Perhimpunan Indonesia Raya) under the leadership (Prof.) Abdulkahar Muzakkir. The use of “Indonesia” is not the first time. In fact, “Indonesia” as a homeland name, has already known in the Middle East in the mid of twenties, and become a name of Islamic school called “Madrasah of Indonesia” founded by Janan Thaib in Mecca. The wave of using word “Indonesia” runs very fast, and one of the results is that Al-Jamiyatul Khairiyatul Jawiya changed its named to be The Indonesian – Malay Youth Association (Persatuan Pemuda Indonesia-Malaya abbreviated Perpindom).

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When Indonesia proclaimed its independence on August 17th, 1945, overseas student movement entered a new phase. Proclamation of independence was greeted with joy and only in a short time, 25 Committee of Independence has been formed around the world, consisting of Indonesian students, ship workers, and ex-Digulists that were scattered throughout the world. Committees were born in many countries spontaneously and simultaneously, in charge to support, defend and urged Indonesian Proclamation of Independence, and make as many countries as possible in around the world to recognize the born of a new independence and sovereign state called Republic of Indonesia. Cooperation among Committees is very important, especially in the exchange of indispensable materials and information; particularly in the years of 1945 and 1946, when direct relationship with Indonesia could not be obtained. (Hassan, M. Zein, 1980, 61)

Similar to Indonesian student movement in other countries, The Indonesian – Malay Youth Association in the Middle East, frenzied welcome independence was ensued. Student activist described how news of Indonesian independence spread out in Middle East:

When Indonesia declared its independence, Alliance power’s sensor agencies in the Middle East suddenly closed tightly so that Proclamation could not be spread out in the area. They worried and anticipated that the declaration of Indonesian independence will receive a warm welcome. Arab people who during the war had suffered heavy pressure from Allied military rule, would be relieved if it were a new Allied opposition. So until the end of August 1945 Proclamation news was not yet public knowledge there. Only at the beginning of September, Mansur Abu Makarim read Vrij Nederland magazine and immediately submit it to us. But the dissemination was two days late, due to the leadership of the new BP that still undecided. First because they do not know that M.A. Makarim is our informant at the Dutch Embassy, and secondly because the source of matter that will be announced untrusted. Because Indonesia is already independent; we suggest the name “Committee for Indonesian Independence Defenders” ((Panitia Pembela Kemerdekaan Indonesia or Lajnatud Difa’i ‘Anistiqlali Indonesia) would be more appropriate, than “Association of Indonesian Independence” (Perhimpunan Kemerdekaan Indonesia (PKI) or Jam’iyatu Istiqlali Indonesia).

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Resource: Hassan, M. Zein, 1980, Diplomasi Revolusi Indonesia Di Luar Negeri. Jakarta: Bulan Bintang



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