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Home > Nations & Nationalism > The Strength of an Idea > Declaration of Independence, Aceh - Sumatra
4 December 1976
[see also Aceh at UNPO]
To The peoples Of The World:
We, the people of Acheh, Sumatra, exercising our right of self-determination, and protecting our historic right of eminent domain to our fatherland, do hereby declare ourselves free and independent from all political control of the foreign regime of Jakarta and the alien people of the island of Java.
Our fatherland, Acheh, Sumatra, had always been a free and independent sovereign State since the world begun. Holland was the first foreign power to attempt to colonize us when it declared war against the sovereign State of Acheh, on March 26, 1873, and on the same day invaded our territory, aided by Javanese mercenaries. The aftermath of this invasion was duly recorded on the front pages of contemporary newspapers all over the world.
The London, TIMES, on April 22, 1873, wrote:
"A remarkable incident in modern colonial history is reported from East Indian Archipelago. A considerable force of Europeans has been defeated and held in check by the army of native state...the State of Acheh. The Achehnese have gained a decisive victory. Their enemy is not only defeated, but compelled to withdraw."
THE NEW YORK TIMES, on May 6th, 1873, wrote: "A sanguinary battle has taken place in Aceh, a native Kingdom occupying the Northern portion of the island of Sumatra. The Dutch delivered a general assault and now we have details of the result. The attack was repulsed with great slaughter. The Dutch general was killed, and his army put to disastrous flight. It appears, indeed, to have been literally decimated."
This event had attracted powerful world-wide attention. President Ulysses S.Grant of the United States issued his famous Proclamation of impartial Neutrality in this war between Holland and Acheh.
On Christmas day, 1873, the Dutch invaded Acheh for the second time, and thus begun what HARPER'S MAGAZINE had called "A Hundred Years War of Today", one of the bloodiest, and longest colonial war in human history, during which one-half of our people had laid down their lives defending our sovereign State. It was being fought right up to the beginning of world war II. Eight immediate forefathers of the signer of this Declaration died in the battlefields of that long war, defending our sovereign nation, all as successive rulers and supreme commanders of the forces of the sovereign and independent State of Acheh, Sumatra.
However, when, after World War II, the Dutch East Indies was supposed to have been liquidate, - an empire is not liquidated if its territorial integrity is preserved, - our fatherland, Acheh, Sumatra, was not returned to us. Instead, our fatherland was turned over by the Dutch to the Javanese - their ex-mercenaries, - by hasty flat of former colonial powers. The Javanese are alien and foreign people to us Achehnese Sumatrans. We have no historic, political, cultural, economic or geographic relationship with them. When the fruits of Dutch conquests are preserved, intact, and then bequeathed, as it were, to the Javanese, the result is inevitable that a Javanese colonial empire would be established in place of that of the Dutch over our fatherland, Acheh, Sumatra. But, colonialism, either by white, Dutch, Europeans or by brown Javanese, Asians, is not acceptable to the people of Acheh, Sumatra.
This illegal transfer of sovereignty over our fatherland by the old, Dutch, colonialists to the new, Javanese colonialists, was done in the most appalling political fraud of the century: the Dutch colonialist was supposed to have turned over sovereignty over our fatherland to a "new nation" called "indonesia". But "indonesia" was a fraud: a cloak to cover up Javanese colonialism. Since the world begun, there never was a people, much less a nation, in our part of the world by that name.
No such people existed in the Malay Archipelago by definition of ethnology, philology, cultural anthropology, sociology, or by any other scientific findings. "Indonesia" is merely a new label, in a totally foreign nomenclature, which has nothing to do with our own history, language, culture, or interests; it was a new label considered useful by the Dutch to replace the despicable "Dutch East Indies", in an attempt to unite administration of their ill-gotten, far-flung colonies; and the Javanese neo-colonialists knew its usefulness to gain fraudulent recognition from the unsuspecting world, ignorant of the history of the Malay Archipelago. If Dutch colonialism was wrong, then Javanese colonialism which was squarely based on it cannot be right. The most fundamental principle of international Law states: Ex injuria jus non oritur. Right cannot originate from wrong!
The Javanese, nevertheless, are attempting to perpetuate colonialism which all the Western colonial powers had abandoned and all the world had condemned. During these last thirty years the people of Acheh, Sumatra, have witnessed how our fatherland has been exploited and driven into ruinous conditions by the Javanese neo-colonialists: they have stolen our properties; they have robbed us from our livelihood; they have abused the education of our children; they have exiled our leaders; they have put our people in chains of tyranny, poverty, and neglect: the life-expectancy of our people is 34 years and is decreasing - compare this to the world's standard of 70 years and is increasing! While Acheh, Sumatra, has been producing a revenue of over 15 billion US dollars yearly for the Javanese neo-colonialists, which they used totally for the benefit of Java and the Javanese.
We, the people of Acheh, Sumatra, would have no quarrel with the Javanese, if they had stayed in their own country, and if they had not tried to lord it over us. From no on, we intend to be the masters in our own house: the only way life is worth living; to make our own laws: as we see fit; to become the guarantor of our own freedom and independence: for which we are capable; to become equal with all the peoples of the world: as our forefathers had always been. In short, to become sovereign in our own fatherland!
Our cause is just! Our land is endowed by the Almighty with plenty and bounty. We covet no foreign territory. We intend to be a worthy contributor to human welfare the world over. We extend the hands of friendship to all peoples and to all governments from the four corners of the earth.
In the name of the sovereign people of Acheh, Sumatra
Tengku Hasan M.di Tiro
Chairman, National Liberation Front of Acheh, Sumatra,
and Head of State.
Acheh, Sumatra, December 4, 1976