Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Amir Sjarifuddin

Amir Sjarifuddin Harahap, also spelled Amir Sjarifoeddin Harahap (27 April 1907 - 19 December 1948) was a socialist politician and one of the Indonesian Republic's first leaders, becoming Prime Minister during the country's National Revolution. A Christian convert from a Muslim Batak  family, Amir was a major leader of the Left during the Revolution. He was executed in 1948 by Indonesian Republican officers following his involvement in a Communist revolt.
Early life

Born into Sumatran aristocracy in the city of Medan, Amir's wealthy background and outstanding intellectual abilities allowed him to enter the most elite schools; he was educated in Haarlem and Leiden in the Netherlands before gaining a law degree in Batavia (now Jakarta). During his time in the Netherlands he studied Eastern and Western philosophy under the tutelage of the Theosophical Society. Amir converted from Islam to Christianity in 1931 whereupon his fervently Islamic mother carried out her threat to commit suicide.

Dutch East Indies and Japanese Occupation

In 1937, one of the final years of the Dutch period, Amir led a group of younger Marxists in establishing Gerindo ('Indonesian People's Movement'), a radical co-operating party opposed to international fascism as the first enemy.[2] The Soviet Union’s Dmitrov doctrine had called for a common front against fascism which helped swell the numbers of Indonesians taking an approach cooperative the Dutch in an attempt to secure Indonesian independence. Gerindo was one of the more significant cooperative parties, which in the years before World War II who’s objectives included a full Indonesian legislature; modest goals in comparison to the Dutch-suppressed radical nationalists led by the likes of Sukarno and Hatta, who Amir met before the War. By 1940, Dutch intelligence suspected him of being involved with the Communist underground.

Watching the increased strength and influence of Imperial Japan, Amir was one of a number of Indonesian leaders who before the war, warned against the danger of fascism. Before the Netherlands' invasion by Japan's ally, Germany, the Netherlands Indies was a major exporter of raw materials to East Asia and to this end, Amir's groups had promoted boycotts against Japan. It is thought that his prominent roles in these campaigns that prompted the head of Dutch intelligence to provide Amir with 25,000 guilders in March 1942 to organise an underground resistance movement against Japan through his Marxist and nationalist connections. At this point, the Dutch administration was crumbling against the Japanese onslaught and the top Dutch military fled Indonesia for Australia.

Upon their occupation of Indonesia, the Japanese enforced total suppression of any opposition to their rule. Most Indonesian leaders obliged as either 'neutral observers' or actively cooperated. Amir, however, was the only prominent Indonesian politician next to Sutan Sjahrir, to organise active resistance. The Japanese arrested Amir in 1943 and he only escaped execution following intervention from Sukarno whose popularity in Indonesia, and hence importance to the war effort, was recognised by the Japanese.