Get to Know More of Marthen Indey, A Hero from Papua

Marthen Indey

Marthen Indey’s name as one of Indonesia’s national heroes may not be familiar to some people. However, his service in uniting Papua (then West Irian) and Indonesia is just as important to commemorate as any others. Here is a story of Marthen Indey and his strive toward Papua’s freedom from colonizers.

Marthen Indey: A Legendary Indonesian Hero from Papua

west papua war

Indey was born in Jayapura in early 1912 under the name of Soroway Indey. He got the name Marthen as his baptized name, and he’s been living with it for the rest of his life.

Indey grows up as an ordinary boy, although his father holds the title of the village leader. In his childhood, he is deeply astonished by Johannes Bremmer, a Christian evangelist from Dutch. When Indey gets a little older, he moves to Ambon and lives with Bremer and his family.

It is also in Ambon that Indey starts his early education. He enrolls at a local primary school at an early age. However, the age of enrollment is uncertain. The local custom used a rather odd method to determine whether he was ready for school; by making him stretch his arm over the head, and touch the opposite ear.

Indey is not one to fancy a formal education. Later in his life, he enrolls in an academy to become a navy. However, after his graduation and first ship service, he ditches his naval career to become a police officer.

Marthen Indey Role During Wartime: Abandoning Career for Nationality

As a police officer, Indey has an excellent record to his name. He can tackle complicated problems. One of his achievements was stopping the local tribe’s attack on Dutch soldiers by stripping off his clothes to gain their trust and negotiate.

Because of his brilliance, he is assigned to Manokwari. He later meets his wife and then marries her in the city. There was a period when Indey was assigned to Serui. However, he moves back to Manokwari within two years.

During the declaration of World War II, the Dutch choose Ambon as its defense fortress against Japanese soldiers. Consequently, the Dutch have to leave several areas and leave them to the police to manage. Luckily, one of the areas the Dutch left is Tanah Merah, Digul, in which Indey resides. Here is where his nationality grows.

Indey, who has already gained huge trust from his colleagues, is free to roam up and about in the local prison. There, he met several political convicts. One of them is Sugoro Atmoprasodjo, a former teacher of Taman Siswa, Yogyakarta.

Along with other prisoners, Indey spends so much time with Atmoprasodjo. It starts from this moment that Indey feels determined to free Papua from colonizers. A mere chit-chatting turns into a deep discussion, then to plan-making.

Indey then proceeds to join Atmoprasodjo’s movement. Although passionate, Indey’s plan is not always working out. In 1942, Indey and his family were forcefully going through exile after a plan failed due to betrayal. He lives miserably for months until he is reassigned as a spy in Asmat.

Joining Huge Movements and Post-Struggle Era

Despite being ostracized and forced to leave the comfort of his career, Indey is not easy to give up. He joins several huge movements, including building guerilla plans to push away colonizers.

During the movement, he met other people who, just like him, will get the title of a national hero of Indonesia, such as Silas Papare. He also joins Komite Indonesia Merdeka or Free Indonesia Committee, an organization that dedicates itself to going against Dutch colonizers.

What Happens After Independence

legendary indonesian hero

Although the independence declaration has been spread throughout the country, the West Papua war is still ongoing. As a pro-Indonesian citizen, Indey is still active in the unity project. Fortunately, the struggle ends up in 1963 after the unification proclamation.

Marthen Indey, an ordinary boy from Jayapura who leaves his bright career for Indonesia, was given the title of a national hero in 1993. Post-war, he is active as the assistant of Papua’s governor and the representative of Irian Jaya. Indey passed away in 1986.