The National Heroes’ Day which falls on November 10, 2020, felt special. On that day, a renowned figure from West Papua – Machmud Singgirei Rumagesan – is appointed as one of six figures who’s awarded the national hero by President Joko Widodo. Who is Machmud Singgirei Rumagesan? Are there any other national heroes from West Papua? Let’s meet them!
Machmud Singgirei Rumagesan
Machmud Singgirei Rumagesan, was the king of Sekar Kingdom in Fakfak Regency, West Papua. Together with other minor kings around Fakfak and Raja Ampat, they served as the head of the Muslim community in the region. However, the Dutch limited them and laborers were abused by the Dutch. Thus, the resistance began.
Through the pulpits in the mosques across his kingdom, Rumagesan and the King of Rumbati – Ibrahim Bauw – called for resistance with jihad fisabililah against colonialism. Feeling threatened, the Dutch put Rumagesan and 73 of his loyal followers behind bars, and they’re exiled to Saparua. Throughout his life, he’s been exiled to Sorong-Dom, Manokwari, Hollandia (Jayapura), and even Makassar.
Did the exiles stop him? Absolutely not. Like other national heroes from West Papua, iron bars couldn’t stop him from spreading the spirit of nationalism among the prisoners. The spirit became even greater after his release.
His vigorous persistence against the Dutch colonial Government is shown in his role in leading the West Tjendrawasih Revolutionary Movement of West Irian (GTRIB) in 1953. The movement was a helping hand for the Indonesian Government to seize West Irian from the Dutch colonial.
On March 1, 1946, he rejected the Dutch who set their foot in Indonesia after the declaration of the nation’s independence. Rumagesan lowered the Dutch flag to express rejection and planned to start a movement against the Dutch, but the Dutch found out his plan, then put him in jail.
His resistance was finally paid off when West Irian became independent from the Dutch since the decision of the Round Table Conference (KMB) on December 24 1949.
Frans Kaisiepo is one of many national heroes from West Papua who’s actively fighting for the integration between West Papua and Indonesia. He was born in Wardo, Biak, on October 10, 1921, and actively participated in Indonesia’s independence movement from a young age.
Three days before the Indonesian Declaration of Independence, Frans Kaisiepo and some of his fellow activists listened to Indonesia Raya song in Kampung Harapan Jayapura, lifted the spirit of nationalism.
On August 31 1945, Kaisiepo and his fellow fighters carried out a flag-raising ceremony and sang the Indonesian national anthem.
His love for his nation was manifested in a party he formed on July 10 1946, the Freedom Party of Indonesia (Partai Indonesia Merdeka). In the same month, he’s directly involved in Malino Conference which was held in South Sulawesi. A historic event took place at the conference.
Frans suggests replacing the name “Papua” with “Irian” which was derived from Biak language. He also rejected the proposed scenario of the formation of the State of East Indonesia (Negara Indonesia Timur). It made him an important figure in the anti-Dutch movement that he initiated against the Dutch in Biak in 1948.
He breathed his last breath on April 10, 1979, and was buried in the Cendrawasih Heroes’ Cemetery, Jayapura. He’s awarded the title of Indonesian national hero in 1993.
Silas Papare was born in Serui, Papua on December 18 1918. He’s one of the most prominent and the bravest figures in the unification of Irian Jaya into Indonesian territory. He’s been dealing with the Dutch security officials and got jailed in Jayapura because he influenced the Papua Battalion to rebel against the Dutch.
In October 1949, Silas established Badan Perjuangan Irian to help the newly-formed Indonesian Government reclaim Papua from Netherland.
He was also appointed as one of the Indonesian delegations on August 15, 1962, New York Agreement, which ends the confrontation between Indonesia and the Netherlands regarding the unification of Irian Barat into Indonesia.
Johannes Abraham Dimara
Johannes Abraham Dimara was born in Korem, North Biak, Papua, April 16, 1916. His first involvement in the nationalism movement was when he took part in Indonesia’s national flag-raising ceremony in Namlea, Buru Island, Maluku. He continued his struggle to reclaim West Irian from Netherland as Indonesia’s territory ever since.
He’s appointed the chairman of the West Papua Freedom Organization (OPI) in 1950 and continued his struggle by becoming a member of the Indonesian Military (TNI). He took further action by infiltrating the Dutch in 1954 which was resulted in him getting ostracized to Digul. The Dutch let him go in 1960.
He supported then-president Soekarno’s Trikora Operation which aimed to reclaim West Papua from Netherland. Together with Soekarno, they proclaimed Trikora in Yogyakarta. Johannes also gathered support from all the people in West Irian to join forces and fought for the unification of West Irian into Indonesia.
The New York Agreement was conducted in 1962. Johannes was appointed one of the representatives together with the Foreign Minister of Indonesia. The agreement decided that the Dutch colonials should hand over West Irian to the Republic of Indonesia. Since then, West Irian had become a part of the Unitary State of Indonesia.
Johannes Abraham Dimara died in Jakarta on October 20, 2000. He received Satyalancana Perang Kemerdekaan Kesatu and Satyalancana Bhakti as tokens of appreciation from the Government. In 2011, Johannes got the title of national hero, adding to the list of national heroes from West Papua.
Hopefully, the stories of 4 national heroes from West Papua inspire us to be as brave as them in defending our own country.