Indonesian National Heroes' Day: Revisiting the History Behind the 10th of November

Once and Forever, the Indonesian Republic

    Every 10th of November, Indonesians celebrate Heroes Day. This day is aimed at commemorating the battle of Surabaya, a battle that was elicited by the "comeback" of the Dutch after being evicted by the Japanese who then occupied Indonesia three years before. The most iconic scene from this series of incident and fight in Surabaya was the tearing of a Netherland flag at the Yamato Hotel. Being a national day, the 10th of November surely has significance for this country, especially in instilling nationalism and unity among Indonesians. Hence, it is important to know the history behind this day as this day is the embodiment of bravery and people's fight against colonialism not only to the Indonesian people but to the international society.

    Being a newborn country, after several decades colonised by Europeans and Japanese, a country named "Indonesia" was still unknown to many. Its independence was not well-recognised, especially by the Western world. Looking at the defeat of the Axis in Asia that was led by the Japanese, the Dutch saw this as an opportunity to reclaim its already independent rich colony, the East Indies. Dutch and Allied forces (British) through AFNEI (Allied Forces Netherlands East Indies) and NICA (Netherlands Indies Civil Administration) then came to Indonesia in the middle of September and arrived at Surabaya on the 25th of September. Seeing their colonizer came back, the people of Indonesia felt humiliated, as this was an offence of their newborn country, proclaimed on the 17th of August 1945.

    Responding to the efforts of re-colonising Indonesia by the Dutch, the people of Surabaya expressed their anger through several events which reached its peak on the 10th of November, where a British general, Robert Mansergh gave an ultimatum of disarmament to the people of Surabaya after a series of conflicts. This ultimatum elicited an open war between the Republic of Indonesia, and the Dutch-Allied Force in Surabaya. This battle went on for three weeks on the and ended with a defeat on the Indonesian side. Several Indonesian figures encouraged the people of Surabaya to fight against colonialism, such as Sutomo and several Muslim scholars such as Hasyim Asy'ari, Wahab Hasbullah, and Abdul Karim. 

Sutomo (Bung Tomo)

    Even though this battle ended with a defeat on the republican's side, the battle of Surabaya proved to the Dutch that the Republic of Indonesia had established itself as a country and not a "bunch of rebels" without any support from the people. This war also elicited several national movements and fights against colonialism in Indonesia. Moreover, this war was a historical milestone for Indonesia that delivered international recognition towards the independence of this newborn republic. 

    The history behind Heroes Day proved that the people of Indonesia are ready, always ready to fight for their freedom and independence from any form of colonialism. This day also recognises the efforts of many historical figures as well as the people of Indonesia in striving the independence. Indonesia, with thousands of island and ethnic groups, is said to be "impossible" to be united in one flag and one country, however, the fact that its people have a sense of shared destiny proved otherwise. Heroes Day surely shows us that the independence of Indonesia was not an easy thing. The founders of this country surely had undergone a plethora of diplomatic and confrontational ways to reach its present-day independence. This infers that the future generation of Indonesia has to nurture this independence with competency, bravery, and intelligence in facing the world's new era. 

Writing Web - Research Division, HIMAPRODI PBI UINSA 2023
Author: Ya
Editor: IT Division/Ya & Fah


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