Boy T Harjanto
Hundreds of people flocked to the famous Jl. Malioboro in Yogyakarta despite the rain. Parading from the northern end of the street, they came dressed as Dutch soldiers, Indonesian soldiers and peasants, equipped with weapons and bamboo spears with some riding in jeeps.
They were taking part in a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the General Offensive of March 1, 1949, a battle in Yogyakarta between Indonesian revolutionary fighters and Dutch soldiers.
The battle occurred four years after Indonesia declared its independence and after continued Dutch aggression had seen the capital moved from Jakarta to Yogyakarta. The Indonesian offensive was launched to retake the capital from the Dutch who had seized control of the city. The Indonesian soldiers managed to hold Yogyakarta for only six hours but this was enough to boost their morale and fighting spirit.
The offensive also opened up the world’s eyes to Indonesia’s struggle and demonstrated they could defeat the Dutch on the battlefield.
The United Nations called on both parties to cease hostilities and demanded the Dutch release Indonesia’s then-president Sukarno and other political prisoners arrested since Dec. 18, 1948. On June 29, 1949, Dutch forces withdrew from Yogyakarta following pressure from the United Nations. [yan]