The Jakarta Post
For the past few days I have been swept away by what freedom means to every single citizen as I celebrated Naga Independence on Aug. 14, Indian Independence on Aug. 15 and Indonesian Independence on Aug. 17 in Yogyakarta.
I went to the city center in Yogyakarta to participate in the Indonesian Independence celebration on Aug. 17. I was impressed by the participation of all the citizens in the celebration.
Some were riding bikes that were brought from Holland during the 19th century and some were wearing Dutch army uniforms which they have preserved since 1940s, to commemorate the time of struggle to get freedom from colonial rule.
Some of them had a pistol, rifle or replica of other arms and weapons. Each of them was so passionate about the country and saw the chance of celebrating the freedom they have achieved since Aug. 17, 1945.
Seeing the joyous moment and inexpressible feelings on the face of every citizen in the city centre, I could feel what freedom means for Indonesian citizens. For the Indonesian citizen freedom means both joy and sorrow.
For Shiv Khera, an Indian writer, freedom is not free because historically many citizens have lost their lives as the price of freedom and citizens are not free in the country in many respects. Many citizens' rights are violated, they are discriminated against and there is a lack of human rights in the country socially, politically and religiously.
I asked a few of them how they felt about Indonesian Independence and a 24-year-old man replied that the country's freedom was his freedom and he was happy to celebrate independence every year.
Another 30-year-old man said that he was proud of Indonesian freedom in terms of freedom from the colonial bondage of the past but he was not happy that citizens were not free in the country in terms of lost economic, political and religious rights.
A young girl said she rode her bike with friends on this special day because she was happy to celebrate the independence that was won by stout-hearted fighters who endlessly fought for it. I asked her whether she was happy with the country since independence.
She said Indonesia was still in a growing process in many aspects and it would continue to grow day-by-day, with such hopes of seeing the future glory of Indonesia, she was happy.
From my observations of the citizens of Indonesia, I see that every citizen loves their own country with patriotic hearts and minds. Everywhere I go I see people who love to sing the national anthem, I see everyone flying the national flag in their cars, bikes, motor cycles and even becak.
Like the citizens who think positively about the future of the nation, the state needs to have a positive attitude in leading the nation forward.