Amir Sjarifuddin

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Amir Sjarifuddin : biography

27 April 1907 – 19 December 1948

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.Vickers (2005), page 86 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.

Front Demokrasi Rakyat and the Madiun Affair

The "Left Wing" coalition renames itself the "People’s Democratic Front" (Front Demokrasi Rakyat) and denounces the "Renville Agreement", which Amir’s government had itself negotiated. In August 1948, Musso, the 1920s leader of the PKI, arrived in Yogyakarta from the Soviet Union. Amir and the leadership of the People’s Democratic Front immediately accept his authority, and Amir admitted membership of the underground PKI since 1935. Adhering to Musso’s Stalinist thinking of a single party of the working class, the major leftist parties in the Front dissolve themselves into the PKI.

Following industrial action, demonstrations, and subsequent open warfare between PKI and pro-government forces in the Central Java city of Surakarta, on 18 September a group of PKI supporters took over strategic points in the Madiun area. They killed pro-government officers, and announced over radio the formation of a new "National Front" government. Caught off guard by the premature coup attempt, Musso, Amir and other PKI leaders travel to Madiun to take charge. The following day, about 200 pro-PKI and other leftist leaders remaining in Yogyakarta were arrested. Sukarno denounced the Madiun rebels over radio, and called upon Indonesians to rally to himself and Hatta rather than to Musso and his plans for a Soviet-style government. Musso replied on radio that he will fight to the finish, while, the People’s Democratic Front in Banten and Sumatra announced they had nothing to do with the rebellion.

In the following weeks, pro-government forces, led by the Siliwangi Division, march on Madiun where there was an estimated 5,000-10,000 pro-PKI soldiers. As the rebels retreated they killed Masyumi and PNI leaders and officials, and in the villages killings took place along santriabangan lines. On 30 September, the rebels abandoned Madiun town, and were pursued by pro-government troops through the countryside. Musso is killed on the 31 October trying to escape custody.

Amir and 300 rebel soldiers were captured by Siliwangi troops on 1 December. Some 35,000 people were later arrested. It is thought perhaps 8,000 people were killed in the affair. As part of a second major military offensive against the Republic, on 19 December Dutch troops occupied Yogyakarta city and the Republican government was captured, including Sukarno, Hatta, Agus Salim, and Sjahrir. Republican forces withdraw to the countryside beginning full-scale guerrilla war on either side of the van Mook line. Rather than risk their release, the army killed Amir and fifty other leftist prisoners as it withdrew from Yogyakarta that evening.

Indonesian National Revolution

As a cabinet minister, and later prime minister, Amir aligned himself with the generally older group of political leaders who, in establishing Indonesian independence, emphasised the need for diplomacy and the formation of sound political structures. This group struggle contrasted with the alternative and generally younger alternative political leadership advocating struggle; the vying for influence between these two groups was a defining feature of the Indonesian National Revolution.

Partai Sosialis

In 1945, he was the most widely known and respected Republican politician to consider himself communist. Although Amir had been in contact with the ‘illegal’ Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), he had nothing but disdain for the ‘unsophisticated’ and unknown Marxists who re-established it in 1935.Reid (1973), page 83 His closest colleagues from the ‘illegal PKI’ underground or the pre-war Gerindo formed the Partai Sosialis Indonesia (PARSI) on 1 November 1945. The same month, Amir followers formed PESINDO (Pemuda Sosialis Indonesia, "Indonesian Socialist Youth").Ricklefs (1991)