JA Dimara, or Johannes Abraham Dimara, is a notable Papuan who achieved national prominence in Indonesia, joining the likes of Silas Papare and Frans Kaisiepo. He was born at Korem, North Biak, Papua on April 16, 1916.
Elias Mahubesi, a police officer in Ambon, took him in when he was 13 and raised him as his own son. Then, Elias transferred him to a primary school in Ambon, where he stayed until 1930.
Between 1935 and 1940, he studied at a Christian boarding school. After completing seminary, he taught Bible classes at Leksuka, Buru Island. It was then that he began his path toward achieving independence for Indonesia.
Entering the Military
When the Japanese invaded Buru Island in early 1942, they closed all schools on the island. The Japanese government rounded up the priests since they were the benefactors and administrators of the schools. As a result, their teaching assistants, including Johannes, lost their jobs.
A Japanese soldier needed some local Papuans to assist him one day. The locals said there was a Papuan in their land, and that person was Johannes. He met Japan head-on, or rather, a commander called Ishido. Ishido made him an offer to join the police force, and he accepted it enthusiastically.
Later, Johannes spent some time training with firearms and military munitions. He joined the Japanese military and was eventually assigned to the Buru Island headquarters of the Kempetai as a Kempei-ho, or a Japanese policeman.
Until the war was over, he was responsible for keeping the peace in the area and maintaining a close watch on anybody who may be a spy.
Participating in the Struggle for Independence
Johannes lost his job as a Kempei-ho after Japan’s surrender. But since he enlisted in the Japanese military, he has been different. He was profoundly influenced by Japanese anti-colonial propaganda, notably against white colonialism, and by the country’s strong sense of patriotism.
On April 8, 1946, Johannes and his allies led a mutiny in Namlea with the backing of two powerful regional figures: King Kumbrasa Bahadin Besi and King Namlea. For five days, they ruled over Namlea.
However, it was not long until Dutch forces showed in and restored Namlea’s rule. The Dutch managed to catch Johannes and sent him to the Pohon Pale Prison.
He was sent to Makassar’s Trungku Layang Prison in August 1947. In light of the new political climate, Johannes was freed at the end of December 1949. The Netherlands officially recognized the Republic of Indonesia as a sovereign state.
Leading the Infiltrator Squad
President Soekarno tasked Johannes with leading an infiltrating army. The troops’ mission, called the Irian Liberation Organization, was to win over the populace in support of the Republic of Indonesia.
In October of 1954, at the town of Telaga Yamor, Johannes and his forces engaged in combat with the Dutch. Unfortunately, they were apprehended, spending the first seven months in Hollanda Prison before being sent to Digul. Moreover, the Dutch government labeled them as dangerous offenders.
They spent a total of seven years inside the penitentiary. Finally, they were freed on April 18, 1961. Johannes returned to Irian.
Representing Indonesia in the New York Agreement
President Soekarno called Johannes in for a second time in September 1961. Once again, he was selected to serve as West Irian’s official representative at the United Nations, or more accurately, in the New York Agreement. Johannes’ entourage included Mary Dapare, Moses Weror, and Mathias Wondiri.
In October of 1961, they made the trip back to Indonesia. Johannes succeeded Silas Papare as Chairman of the West Irian People’s Movement (Indonesian: Gerakan Rakyat Irian Barat, GRIB). The organization’s principal activity was to combat the continuing Dutch occupation of Papua.
The provisions of the New York Agreement were implemented in 1961. The government of the Republic of Indonesia demanded that the Kingdom of the Netherlands hand up control over West Irian. After that, Papua joined the Republic of Indonesia.
Johannes Abraham Dimara died in Jakarta on October 20, 2000. The government honored him with several awards and medals for his service.