The first person who introduce Indonesian nationalism in Papua

Soegoro Atmoprasodjo successfully instilled Indonesian nationalism in his students in Papua. However, he failed in the uprising against the Dutch.


Martin Sitompul – (translated by Papua Update)

MARCUS Kaisiepo, a student of the Civil Service School in Kota Nica (now Kampung Harapan in Jayapura), heard the news of the proclamation of independence of Indonesia from the radio. He along with other students then discussed the Proclamation. Silas Papare asked Marcus to tell J.P.K. van Eechoud, Papua resident and founder of the Civil Service School that the Papuans do not want anything to do with the proclamation.

Of course, Van Eechoud happy because he was attempting to establish the Papua identity rather than contribute to the rhythm of Indonesian nationalism. However, he blundered his move by recruiting Soegoro Atmoprasodjo as a teacher and dormitory director of the School of Civil Service that bring together local youth to become employees of the Dutch government. Some of them went on to become the first educated Papuan local elite, as Frans Kaisiepo, Nicolaas Jouwe, marthen indey, Corinus Krey, Silas Papare, Baldus Mofu, O. Manupapami, and Herman Wajoi.

“Soegoro was highly trusted by Van Eechoud and considered loyal to the Netherlands so he was appointed as the first director of the School of Civil Service in Hollandia,” wrote Bernarda Meteray in Double nationalism of Papuans. However, Soegoro utilized his position to sow Indonesian nationalism. His action against the Dutch government disappointed Van Eechoud which has been considered him as the golden boy.

“According Corinus Krey, Soegoro was the first to introduce the values of Indonesian nationalism to the students,” wrote Bernarda. Van Eechoud also admitted that due to the circumstances that took place in Java, Soegoro compelled to engage in activities that support the struggle in Java.

Soegoro Atmoprasodjo born in Yogyakarta, October 23, 1923. He is active in Ki Hadjar Dewantara’s Taman Siswa  and activist of  Indonesia Party (Partindo). In 1935 , he was banished to Digul, Tanah Merah, Papua, on charges involving in the Indonesian Communist Party uprising against the Netherlands in 1926/1927 in Central Java. At the beginning of the Japanese occupation, the Dutch government took him to Australia. After Japan’s defeat, he was again taken to Papua and worked in the School of Civil Service.

One of the ways Soegoro instilled Indonesian nationalism to the students was by introducing the song “Indonesia Raya” and formed a political discussion group. In various discussions, he tried to convince his students that they were part of Indonesia that has diversity as well as Papuans from many tribes. To his students, he stressed unity is the key factor to escape from Dutch colonial rule. His efforts came to fruition.

According to Suyanto Hadinoto in a book titled “Api Perjuangan Pembebasan Irian Barat”, Soegoro then formed an underground movement to oppose the Dutch government. The movement was called Irian – Ikut Republik Indonesia Anti Nederland (Join the Republic of Indonesia Anti-the Netherlands).

Soegoro plotting a rebellion by involving students in the city Nica and Papua battalion members including Corinus Krey, Marcus Kaisiepo, Luke Rumkoren, Lysias Rumbiak, Frans Kaisiepo, and two people from Sumatra, Sutan Hamid Siregar and Aran Panjaitan. Soegoro also invited former soldiers Heiho mostly from Sumatra and Java.

According to Suyanto, the rebellion will be launched on August 31, 1945. While Bernarda said that Soegoro conveyed the resistance plan on 15 and 16 August 1945. The plan of uprising was disclosed by the Dutch government. Approximately 250 former Heiho detained. Soegoro imprisoned in Hollandia (Jayapura).

In prison, Soegoro planned two uprising again in July 1946 and January 1947, involving marthen indey, Corinus Krey, Bastian Tauran, eleven Ambonese who worked as a repairman, army KNIL (Royal Netherlands Indies Army), members of the Papua battalion, and 30 youth Papuans from around Lake Sentani.

The plan failed because a member of Papua battalion leaked it to the Dutch government. The Dutch government arrested and interrogated the rebels. Some of the perpetrators were released, but Soegoro was sentenced to 14 years, initially at Hollandia and then transferred to the prison in Tanah Merah, Merauke.

On 5 April 1947, Soegoro and Willem Nottan from Tual Kei who were sentenced to ten years, as well as five other prisoners, escaped from Tanah Merah prison , Merauke, heading to Papua New Guinea, and then to Australia.

In 1950, Soegoro returned to Indonesia and worked at the State Department (Department of Foreign Affairs). Ahead of the return of Papua to the Republic of Indonesia, Soegoro became member of Indonesian delegation with the position as adviser in the transitional government UNTEA (United Nations United Nations Temporary Executive Authority). The Papuans who were his students, later called Soegoro as the father of Irian.

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