A national hero is not something you can get haphazardly. Only some people who make a big contribution to the country are entitled to this title. One of them is probably Machmud Singgirei Rumagesan.
President Joko Widodo officially gave Rumagesan the title of a national hero. This is because of his contribution to the fight against the Dutch and Japan. Aside from that, Rumagesan also contributed greatly to the liberation of Irian.
So, it is understandable that he was the first person who got the title of a national hero from West Papua.
The Origin of Rumagesan
Singgirei Rumagesan is one of the kings who once ruled in the Sekar Kingdom, headquartered in Kokas. If you are still unfamiliar with the Sekar Kingdom, it is a part of Petuanan. Petuanan is an alliance of various Islamic kingdoms in the Onin Peninsula. It is also known as the Fakfak Kingdom.
He was born on 27 December 1885 in Kokas and was crowned the king of Sekar in 1915. Singgirei Rumagesan became the king to take his father’s place, Saban Pipi Rumagesan, after his death. But Pipi and Singgirei Rumagesan is not direct descendant of the previous king.
Pipi Rumagesan was crowned after the previous king of Sekar, Pandai, passed away, leaving no offspring that fit to be a king. His son, Abdulrachim, is still young to lead the kingdom. This is why they appointed Pipi as the temporary king, even though, by customary law, that is not allowed.
The Fight of Rumagesan Against the Dutch
At first, the Dutch came to Fakfak to establish an oil company called Maatschappij Colijn. It happened in 1934 when Singgirei Rumagesan served as the King of Sekar. They employ local citizens. So, Rumagesan requires the company to collect wages first.
They promised to pay the wages to Rumagesan, so he could distribute them to the employees that worked there. So, Rumagesan allows it. However, the payment only lasts for two or three months. When he asked for his rights, the Dutch refused to pay them.
There was a clash when he complained about it to G. van den Terwijk, the controller. They bicker and end up in a fight. The citizens who heard about this were mad and intended to kill G. van den Terwijk.
However, this failed because the Dutch caught them and Rumagesan and imprisoned them in Fakfak. Rumagesan also had to serve a sentence of 15 years.
As one of the important figures in Papua, Rumagesan continues to fight against the invaders. He was released from prison during the Japanese colonial era in 1941. However, after the independence of Indonesia, the Dutch returned to the land of Papua.
At that time, Rumagesan realized that the struggle was not over. As one of the heroes of Papua, Rumagesan is trying to fight the Dutch again. He ordered the citizens of Kokas to get rid of the Dutch flag. This made the Dutch angry, and finally, there was another battle between Rumagesan and the Dutch.
The Dutch managed to capture Rumagesan again after getting help from Sorong. However, he became the national hero from Papua for a reason. Although the Dutch managed to catch him and bring him to Sorong, Rumagesan remained influential.
In 1953, he led one of the most significant movements. The movement was called the West Irian Revolutionary Tjendrawasih Movement. He also set up Batalyon Rumagessan for infiltration into Dutch New Guinea. This was very influential in the effort to liberate West Irian.
This endeavor of Rumagesan finally succeeded with the help of the West Irian Liberation National Front. Because he led the Tjendrawasih Movement, Machmud Singgirei Rumagesan was surely influential in the effort to liberate West Irian.