Madiun Affair

The Madiun Affair (Indonesian: Peristiwa Madiun), known locally as the Communist Party of Indonesia rebellion of 1948 (Indonesian: Pemberontakan Partai Komunis Indonesia 1948), was an armed conflict between the government of the Self-proclaimed Republic of Indonesia and the left-wing opposition group, Front Demokrasi Rakyat (FDR, People's Democratic Front) during the Indonesian National Revolution.[1] The conflict began on 18 September 1948 in Madiun, East Java, and ended three months later when most FDR leaders and members were detained and executed by TNI forces.

Events prior to the revoltEdit

The downfall of Sjarifuddin Cabinet and the formation of Hatta CabinetEdit

Opinions regarding the trigger of the conflict vary. According to Kreutzer, the downfall of Amir Sjarifuddin government in January 1948 was the origin of the Madiun Affair.[2] Before then, during the second half of the 1947, Partai Sosialis was split into two factions; one faction was led by Sjarifuddin and the smaller faction led by Sutan Sjahrir. Sjahrir group's opposition grew bigger as Sjarifudin put strong emphasis on their alignment with Russia and class welfare.[3] Sjahrir believed that Marxist doctrine of class welfare could not be applied in Indonesian community as there were no such Indonesian bourgeoisie, and that Indonesia should maintain a "positive neutrality," so that Indonesia could contribute to world peace.[3] They completely split soon after the establishment of Hatta's presidential cabinet.

Sjarifuddin premiership ended on 28 January 1948. Prior to this, Sjahrir, Dr. Leimena, and several political activists approached Hatta and requested him to become the next prime minister. Hatta agreed on the condition that he got PNI and Masjumi's support. Driven by the need to form a cabinet with national support (both right-wing and left-wing), Hatta offered Sjarifuddin's faction some posts in the cabinet.[4] They declined Hatta's offer and demanded key positions, including Sjarifuddin position as Minister of Defense (In the previous cabinet, Sjarifuddin was both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense) in return of their support for Hatta's government.[5] Negotiation failed, and on January 31, 1948, Hatta finally formed a cabinet without the Sajap Kiri (left-wing) parties.[6] Two members of Partai Sosialis, however, were included in the cabinet based on a strong request by Sjahrir. Sjahrir and the two cabinet members were expelled from the Partai Sosialis and formed their own party called Partai Sosialis Indonesia (PSI, the Socialist Party of Indonesia).[7] "This new party immediately gave its support to Hatta's government."[8] Hatta's program of government was based on two priorities; the implementation of the Renville Agreement, and the rationalization of the Indonesian army.[9]

The formation of FDREdit

The Sajap Kiri (without Sjahrir's faction) gradually went into opposition. In the beginning they tried to get a place in the government by showing willingness to co-operate.[10] However, their attempt failed when they faced bitter reality that there were no faction members included in the cabinet. At a mass meeting at Surakarta on February 26 the Sajap Kiri underwent reorganization and emerged as the Front Demokrasi Rakjat (FDR; People's Democratic Front) led by Amir Sjarifuddin which comprised Partai Sosialis, PKI, PBI, Pesindo, and trade union federation SOBSI.[8] Some weeks later after the meeting, FDR' program was radically changed. The new program ordered, among others, (1) opposition of the Renville Agreement; (2) discontinuation of the negotiations with the Dutch; and (3) nationalization of all foreign enterprises.[11][12] Their strong opposition against Hatta's cabinet was obviously seen from the first objective of the program. While Hatta's cabinet main goal was to implement the Renville agreement, the FDR's was to reject it.

The FDR had two principal bases of strength: within the army and among labor. In his capacity of Minister of Defense from July 3, 1947 to January 28, 1948, Sjarifuddin had "managed to build up a strong personal opposition within the army".[13] He was able to secure officers' loyalty in the army, the TNI (Tentara National Indonesia; Indonesian National Army). Those loyal military officers were often the ones who knew the location of numerous arms and munitions kept in the mountainous areas in anticipation of further Dutch military action.[14] Even more important was the strong position Sjarifuddin had built himself within the army's supplementary organization, the TNI Masjarakat (People's TNI). Established in early August 1947 (when Sjarifuddin was the Prime Minister), this organization was aimed at organizing popular defense on a local basis to support the army.[13] While the TNI was a national organization, the TNI Masjarakat, led by Colonel Djoko Sujono, was a local-based military organization.[15] It was obvious that during his premiership, Sjarifuddin managed to build strong both national and local military organizations prepared to confront the Dutch.

In addition, the FDR had a clearly dominant position within SOBSI (Sentral Organisasi Buruh Seluruh Indonesia), by far the largest labor organization in Indonesia. The member of this organization was mainly urban and plantation labor with the Republic, and its member was estimated to be between 200,000 and 300,000.[14]

Hatta's rationalization program and its impact on FDR's military strengthEdit

From the Indonesian government's perspective, rationalization was the solution to economic problem by reducing the number of military forces. A month after the establishment of his cabinet, Hatta began the rationalization program based on Presidential Decree No.9 27 February 1948.[16] The main objective of the rationalization was to reorganize the military organizations and to mobilize productive labor force from defense to production sectors. According to Hatta, there were three ways to achieving those objectives; 1) demobilize military officers who wanted to return to their previous jobs (teachers, private employees), 2) send the military officers back to the ministry of development and youth, and 3) demobilize hundreds of military officers to return to village communities.[17]

In 1948, the Indonesian Republic faced a critical situation in which there was an excessive labor supply due to the enormous refugees fled to the Republic from the areas overrun by Dutch such as Surabaya (located adjacent to Madiun, Surabaya was then still under the Dutch colonials). In addition, there were at least 200,000 excess troops in the Republic while there was an inadequate number of arms and munitions for them. To anticipate the critical problems—economic, military, and political—emerging from this situation, Hatta and his cabinet immediately decided to embark upon a rationalization program. At the initial stage of reorganization, there were 160,000 troops left. This program was expected to leave only 57,000 regular troops at the end.[18]

On May 15, 1948, the TNI Masjarakat or laskar, one of the principal bases of FDR's strength, was demobilized.[19] Western-oriented and pro-government military officers wanted a smaller, more disciplined, and more trustworthy army under their leadership. They viewed TNI masjarakat as less well-trained and uneducated military organization which was strongly associated with communist organizations.[20] The government wanted the Army to be led by professional officers who had undergone serious military training. Two pro-government military organizations, West Java Siliwangi Division and the Corps Polisi Militer (CPM, Military Police Corp), were officially acknowledged and given legal status.[21] The demobilization of TNI masjarakat means the influence of FDR in the government was getting weaker and this deepened the FDR's resentment against the government. From the FDR's perspective, rationalization was an attempt to destroy FDR's power.

FDR was not the only group that opposed Hatta's rationalization. Among the military unit which began to oppose the Hatta government was Division IV, better known as Divisi Senopati, which was stationed in Solo and placed under the command of Colonel Sutarto.[22] Like FDR, Division IV was also disappointed with Hatta's rationalization and protested against the program on May 20, 1948.[23] Hatta's decision to incorporate Division IV into Division I would place Colonel Sutarto in 'reserve officer' position.[24] Sutarto and his soldiers ignored the instruction and began to reorganize their own division. They transformed Division IV into a "battle-ready military unit" which gained support from the majority of Solo's population and FDR followers. They named this unit Divisi Pertempuran Panembahan Senopati (Battle-Division Duke Senopati).[23] Sutarto was mysteriously murdered on July 2, 1948. For those who were pro-FDR, this murder was perceived as part of the Hatta's rationalization program.[25]

Delanggu strikeEdit

Disappointed by Hatta's rationalization, the FDR/PKI began to seek support from farmers and labors by advocating land reform and organizing labor strikes.[26] One of FDR/PKI's principal bases of strength was SOBSI. Heavily dominated by communists, SOBSI organized a number of strikes to protest against the government. The most important strike took place in Solo. Plantation workers protested against the government in response to deteriorating condition of the economy following economic blockade by the Dutch and government's failure to eliminate feudalism and to stop the "speculative operation of black market."[27] The strike at Delanggu cutton-growing area was organized by SABUPRI (the union of communist-oriented plantation workers), and around 20,000 workers went on strike for around 35 days. The government accused the FDR and SABUPRI leaders of endangering the Republic by organizing the strike. They responded to this accusation by saying that it was the government that endangered the Republic with its ineffective and incorrect economic policies.[28] What the FDR and SOBSI leaders wanted from the government was better implementation of the existing regulations and agrarian reforms.[29] The strike came to an end on 18 July 1948, with the government willing to accept workers' demand for two-meter long textile and rice that would be given every month in addition to their salary.[30]

The foreign relations of the Republic of IndonesiaEdit

The Madiun Affair should be placed in an international context in which two superpower countries played a role in the Indonesian government's decision making. Suripno was a young communist who became the representative of the Republic of Indonesia at the Congress of World Federation of Democratic Youth in Prague in 1947.[31] He was also given a mandate to contact the Soviet Union. On January 1948, he met a Russian ambassador and discussed future consular relationship between Russia and Indonesia.[32] The Soviet government finally took the initiative by informing Suripno that the Consular Treaty had been rectified.[33] Instead of accepting the treaty, Hatta's government decided to suspend the bilateral relationship. Suripno was then asked to return to Indonesia. On August 11, 1948 Suripno arrived at Jogjakarta with his 'secretary' who turned out to be Musso, a senior Indonesian communist leader.[34] When asked to give official report to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Haji Agus Salim, Suripno praised Russia for its political stance that had always acknowledged Indonesia as a sovereign state.[34]

Hatta repeatedly refused the Consular Treaty because he was inclined to seek assistance to the United States' power. On July 21, Sukarno, Hatta, Minister for the Interior, Minister for Information, and the US representative had a meeting at a hotel in Sarangan, Madiun. The Dutch and the US had a common goal which was to control the natural resources. On September 17, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affair stated that communist expansion in Indonesia was the main obstacle to the western power to acquire the resources. The Dutch wanted the US to believe that Indonesia was the bulwark of communists. The US, however, decided to "include Hatta and his association in one international anti-communist front to be established in East and Southeast Asia" to challenge the Soviet Union.[35] The Dutch's attempt to restore its control over Indonesia, by bringing Indonesian leaders and the US representatives into conflict, failed.

The return of Musso and the reorganization of FDR/PKIEdit

The return of Musso was the catalyst of the Madiun Affair.[36] Sukarno officially invited Musso in his presidential palace in Jogjakarta. According to a journalist report, the meeting was very emotional. They embraced each other and eyes were filled in tears. Musso was, in fact, Sukarno's political senior and they were good friend when they resided in Surabaya.[37]

Musso's return was a turning point of FDR's political journey. During the party conference on August 26 and 27, 1948, they adopted a new political line. They established a new body that consisted of left-wing parties. Members of this new political bureau were FDR leaders (Maruto Darusman, Tan Ling Djie, Harjono, Setiadjit, Djoko Sujono, Aidit, Wikana, Suripno, Amir Sjarifuddin, and Alimin) with Musso serving as the chairman. These re-appointments were made legitimate grounds by FDR/PKI's enemies to launch "anti-PKI campaign". The government prepared some strategies to "eliminate the Communists". One of the government's biggest accusations was that Musso promoted "the Republic's involvement in a Soviet-American conflict".[38] The unification of these political forces was a fatal mistake.

Towards the revoltEdit

The FDR leaders made propaganda tour through Central and East Java. Their main purpose was to promote Musso's political ideas. Other PKI leaders remained in Jogjakarta trying to negotiate with PNI and Masjumi leaders to form a new cabinet that would include FDR's representatives.[39] The situation inside FDR was still chaotic even after the unification of several political forces. For instance, some members of PKI and Partai Sosialis in Bojonegoro opposed the decision made during the meeting on August 26 and 27, 1948.[39] As a new structure, FDR was technically not strong enough to confront any challenges from the outside.

During this period, there were small clashes involving pro-Hatta military groups on the one side and pro-FDR armed groups on the other.[39] After the murder of Colonel Sutarto, political development in Solo became more intense. The coming of Siliwangi Division, which was "loyal to government and anti-leftist",[40] was also one of the causes of political instability in Solo which was the base of Senopati Division. The FDR's power started to diminish after several cases of murdering and kidnapping of the "leftist officers".[41] Kreutzer provides examples of kidnapping and murdering cases on weeks prior to the Madiun Affair. "On September 1, two members of Solo's PKI were kidnapped and later interrogated about the activities and organization of PKI in Solo. On the same day, however, members of Pesindo kidnapped some pro-government leaders. They were accused of kidnapping PKI members.[42] Six days later, on September 7, almost all officers and a number of lower-ranking soldiers of Commander Yadau's Tentara Laut Republik Indonesia (TLRI, Republican Navy) were kidnapped and brought to a base of Siliwangi Division, a pro-government military unit. On September 9, Suadi, Sutarto's successor as Commander of Senopati Division, obtained the official approval by Indonesian Army Commander Sudirman to investigate the murder and kidnapping of people in Jogja and Solo. But shortly after the investigation had started, a number of officers, who were given orders to interrogate the suspects, were kidnapped, too. On September 13 in Blitar, south of Malang, government units arrested a number of Pesindo members."[43] On September 16, Pesindo's headquarter was attacked.[42] Solo, the second city of the Republic after Jogjakarta, became the scene of a complex conflict between the government and leftist groups during the first two weeks of September.[40]

Solo was now dominated by the pro-government rightist. This made Madiun he FDR last important stronghold after Jogja and Solo controlled by the Indonesian Republic, and Surabaya was under Dutch control.[44] Unfortunately, anti-communist groups and pro-Hatta's government had already infiltrated Madiun since the beginning of September.[44]

The revoltEdit

Two men with rope around their necks are handcuffed by TNI officers on September 1948 in Madiun, Indonesia

Alarmed by what happened in Solo, FDR local leaders in Madiun began to feel uneasy and they reported this to FDR leaders in Kediri which is located more than thirty-five miles east of Madiun. Then he received an order to disarm the agitators in Madiun to avoid possible bloodshed in the area. At 3 a.m on September 18, 1948, the FDR began to seize the local government officers, telephone exchange, and army headquarters with Sumarsono and Djoko Sujono as the leaders of the operation.[45] It was a brief fighting ending up with two loyal officers being killed and four wounded.[45] Within hours, Madiun was under the FDR's control. Two FDR members, Setiadjit and Wikana, took over the civil administration and established the Pemerintah Front National Daerah Madiun (Government of the National Front of the Region of Madiun).[46] Sumarsono then announced over the local radio, "From Madiun victory begins".[45]

After hearing about what happened on September 18, Musso and Sjarifuddin returned to Madiun. They immediately discussed the situation with Sumarsono, Setiadjit, and Wikana upon their arrival.[45] At ten o'clock on the night of September 19, 1948, President Sukarno declared that the Madiun revolt was an attempt to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and that Musso had formed a Soviet government. He also stated that Indonesians had to choose between him and Hatta and Musso and his communist party.[46] Sukarno was followed by Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX who had very strong influence among Javanese society. In his speech, he asked people to help Sukarno and Hatta and give them full mandate to crush the communist movement.[47] At 11.30 p.m. the same day, Musso replied to Sukarno. He declared a war against the Indonesian government. He tried to convince Indonesian people that Sukarno and Hatta were the slaves of American Imperialism, "traitors", and "Romusha dealers".[48] There was mounting tension between the Sukarno-Hatta and FDR leaders.

Some FDR leaders decided to go in different directions from Musso. On September 20, 1948, they declared their willingness to reconcile with the Indonesian government. In the evening, Colonel Djoko Sujono, Military Commandant in the Madiun, broadcast over the radion that what happened in Madiun was not a coup, but it was an attempt to correct the government's policy which "led the revolution into different direction".[49] He was followed by Sumarsono, the original leader of the revolt. Sumarsono made a similar public announcement that the Madiun event was not a coup, but an attempt to correct the political aims of Hatta's government.[50] On his attempt to convince the government, on 23 September Amir Sjarifuddin stated that FDR's constitution was that of the Republic of Indonesia; their flag remained red and white; and their national anthem was still Indonesia Raya.[51]

The aftermath: the fall of FDR leadersEdit

Former PM Amir Sjarifuddin (wearing glasses) was among those captured and executed for their parts in the rebellion.

The Indonesian government seemed to ignore some FDR leaders' attempt to end the conflict. They used this small revolt to "crack down the Indonesian left".[52] The military operation was led by Colonel Gatot Soebroto and Nasution, and they promised to settle the mess within two weeks' time. Hatta insisted to curb the rebellion and seize Madiun as soon as possible before the Dutch started to intervene.[53] The government started anti-Communist purge from Jogjakarta and Solo. On September 30, the government sent Lt. Col. Sadikin, the Siliwangi Division brigade, to mobilize his troops and control Madiun.[50] In order to avoid conflicts with the Indonesian Armed Forces, FDR/PKI leaders began to retreat to mountainous areas. Under the command of Sjarifuddin, they fled Madiun and headed to a small village Kandangan where they could find munitions and arms (a store built up when Sjarifuddin was the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense). To their surprise, the village was already occupied by the batalion of the Sungkono Division led by Major Sabarudin.[50]

On October 28, the government arrested 1,500 men of the last rebel military unit. Musso was shot dead three days later on October 31 when he hid in a restroom and refused to surrender. His body was brought to Ponorogo, set on display for public view before being set ablaze.[54] A month later, on November 29, Djoko Sujono and Maruto Darusman were arrested. Sjarifuddin faced the same fate when he was captured on 4 December.[55] Three days later, on December 7, 1948, "TNI headquarters announced the final extermination of the rebellion and stated that approximately 35,000 people, mostly troops, had been arrested. On December 19, Sjarifuddin, Maruto Darusman, Djoko Sujono, Suripno and other FDR leaders were executed.[55] Estimated casualties were 24,000 in total (8,000 in Mandiun, 4,000 in Cepu and 12,000 in Ponorogo, as the affair affected neighbouring areas)[56]

While most of FDR/PKI leaders were detained and executed, Sumarsono managed to escape. He fled Madiun and headed north into the Dutch territory. He was finally arrested by Dutch troops because of the illegal possession of gold and treasury. Although initially the Dutch authorities were suspicious of his involvement in the Madiun Affair, he managed to deceive them by showing false identity. He was released on July 30, 1949, but was arrested again on October 29, 1949, for his identity fraud case. The Dutch kept investigating his background, and on November 11, 1949, they revealed Sumarsono's identity and his political actions in the Madiun Affair. The Dutch authorities decided to execute him in New Guinea. But before that happened, Sumarsono ran away from prison on December 13, 1949, and managed to escape the execution. He then fled to North Sumatera and lived there as a teacher. He was arrested again during anti-Communist campaign launched by the Indonesian government under Suharto in 1965.[57]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sugiyama (2011), p. 20
  2. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 1
  3. ^ a b Kahin (1970), p. 258
  4. ^ Soe (1997), pp. 162–163, based on Soe's interview with Hatta in Jakarta, September 27, 1967
  5. ^ Kahin (1970), pp. 231–232
  6. ^ Sugiyama (2011), p. 32
  7. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 5
  8. ^ a b Kahin (1970), p. 259
  9. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 3
  10. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 6
  11. ^ Kreutzer (1981), pp. 6–7
  12. ^ Pinardi (1966), p. 29
  13. ^ a b Kahin (1970), p. 260
  14. ^ a b Kahin (1970), pp. 260–261
  15. ^ Soe (1997), p. 94
  16. ^ Soe (1997), p. 193
  17. ^ Soe (1997), pp. 194–195
  18. ^ Kahin (1970), p. 262
  19. ^ Soe (1997), p. 194
  20. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 8
  21. ^ Kreutzer (1981), pp. 8–9
  22. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 9
  23. ^ a b Kreutzer (1981), p. 10
  24. ^ Soe (1997), p. 196
  25. ^ Soe (1997), p. 198
  26. ^ Sugiyama (2011), p. 33
  27. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 15
  28. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 16
  29. ^ Kreutzer (1981), pp. 15–16
  30. ^ Soe (1997), pp. 205–206
  31. ^ Soe (1997), p. 207
  32. ^ Soe (1997), pp. 207–208
  33. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 17
  34. ^ a b Soe (1997), p. 209
  35. ^ Kreutzer (1981), pp. 20–21
  36. ^ Poeze (2009), p. 516
  37. ^ Soe (1997), p. 211
  38. ^ Kreutzer (1981), pp. 25–26
  39. ^ a b c Kreutzer (1981), p. 27
  40. ^ a b Poeze (2009), p. 515
  41. ^ Kreutzer (1981), pp. 27–30
  42. ^ a b Soe (1997), p. 230
  43. ^ Kreutzer (1981), pp. 29–30
  44. ^ a b Kreutzer (1981), p. 31
  45. ^ a b c d Kahin (1970), p. 291
  46. ^ a b Kreutzer (1981), p. 34
  47. ^ Soe (1997), p. 239
  48. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 36
  49. ^ Kahin (1970), p. 298
  50. ^ a b c Kahin (1970), p. 299
  51. ^ Kreutzer (1981), pp. 36–37
  52. ^ Kreutzer (1981), p. 37
  53. ^ Soe (1997), p. 250
  54. ^ Soe (1997), p. 259
  55. ^ a b Pinardi (1966), p. 153
  56. ^ Tadjoeddin, Z. (2014-05-07). Explaining Collective Violence in Contemporary Indonesia: From Conflict to Cooperation. ISBN 9781137270641.
  57. ^ Sugiyama (2011), pp. 39–40