Commitment is about doing whatever it takes.—Anonymous

Rawagede Massacre: An Unpublished Story

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tonight I received an email from Batara Hutagalung, a leader of Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts – a group of people that strive for The Netherlands' apology for what they did to Indonesia years ago. The email said that the committee was planning to stage a demonstration in front of Dutch Embassy this Friday.

Batara's email reminded me of my story about Rawagede Massacre that didn't get published, back when I was still an intern reporter at The Jakarta Post. Since it's been almost a year, I would like to just share the story here. Please tell me what you think okay :)


Up until now, Imih still could not forget the day when, at four o’clock in the morning, she saw troops all over her village.

“There were hundreds of them. They opened fire and soon everyone was in panic,” said the 74-year-old woman, recollecting a horrible day she had 60 years ago.

“I quickly told my husband and my father to stay in the house because I knew it was safer there, but my husband – he was so frightened he ran away and got shot.”

The tragedy took place on December 9, 1947, after more than 300 hundreds troops of Netherlands army surrounded Rawagede, a village between Karawang-Bekasi, located about 60 kilometers to the east of Jakarta.

They were in attempt to capture Mr. Lukas Kustario – an Indonesian soldier who had previously attacked some Netherlands facilities.

He recently had damaged a train containing weaponry with another train.

Kustario, according to a report the troops received, had entered Rawagede to join the soldiers force in the city.

However, the wanted soldier actually had left the village for Jakarta the day before.

The troops ordered all residents to get out their houses, gather up in a yard. They separated male citizens from the crowds and made them stood in line.

They asked the people: “Where is Lukas Kustario?! Where are the soldiers?!”

None of the men said anything.

Pissed off by the response, “The troops started to bombard us,” an 84-year-old soldier Saih said.

Saih managed to survive by playing dead. “As they shot, I quickly dropped myself to the ground. A bullet hit my back but I lay still.”

He remembered how the troops continued shooting at all dead bodies to make sure none is alive before they left the scene. They also chased other male residents who were hiding in a nearby river, Kali Rawagede, with some tracker dogs they brought.

When he thought it was safe to make a move, Saih stood up and walked home.

“I saw so many victims,” he said.

“Hundreds of man died that day, making there were only women and children in this village,” said Imih.

All men who were lucky to be alive escaped the village for their lives because the troops were believed to come back anytime.

“It took us two days to bury all 431 dead bodies,” she said.

It is ironic that the massacre happened just one day after Indonesia and Netherlands started the “USS Renville” peace talk.

A monument was built in 1996 in the village to “honor the heroes”. The “Rawagede People Struggle Monument” complex also has a cemetery for the victims.

But not all victims were relocated and buried here. “It’s hard to identify all the victims. We only managed to identify 181 out of 431 victims,” said head of Rawagede Foundation Sukarman, who manages the monument complex.

Every year the people of Rawagede hold a ceremony at the monument to commemorate the tragedy. They sing national anthem. They make moment of silence. They pray for the heroes, and throw flowers at their graves.

They read the story on how Netherlands troops had tore down the entire life of the village.

Moreover, a famous poem from a namely poet Chairil Anwar, dedicated to the victims: “Karawang-Bekasi”.
We, who have lain down between Karawang-Bekasi, cannot shout “Independence!” and carry weapon any more.
Some elderly people are crying as they hear the poem.

While Netherlands considered what happened in Rawagede “a correctional action” – as they claimed the area as their territory at the time – a group of people is currently putting effort on getting Netherlands apology for what they did.

“It was a crime against humanity,” Batara Hutagalung, leader of Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts said.

“The Netherlands surrendered to Japan in 1942 while Indonesia declared its independence in 1945 so it was not also war crime as there was no war at all,” said Batara.

“They should say sorry and pay compensation to the victim’s family to help them prosper. We should reach reconciliation with dignity.”

Talking about compensation, Imih said she just wished to have her house repaired. “That’s all.”

As for Saih, he only wished his family a better life.

The big-hearted old man said he had forgiven Netherlands. “I have no hatred in my heart against them.”

“They were just looking for Mr. Lukas but unfortunately, we really had no idea where he was.”

“Of course even if we did, we would not tell them anyway.”

12 Komentar:

Blogger turabul-aqdam »
14 August, 2008 15:20  

si lukas kustario ini disebut teroris juga kah?? jika iya, my symphaty for this terrorrist.

CIA, plz get me so I can split on u.. :D


Anonymous Anonymous »
17 August, 2008 19:32  


kram nanya dong.. yang kayak gitu emang harus dituntut kan ya? meski orang2 netherland (yang menjajah waktu itu) dah gak ada?

kalo kasus korupsi zaman orba kan masih ada tuh tokohnya, walaupun pemimpinnya dah lewat.. jadi tetap harus dituntut (kroco2nya itu)

Blogger Patria Asmara »
17 August, 2008 20:22  

Hmmm... hal ini mengingatkan daku akan film klasik Hollywood tahun 1997 garapan Richard Donner, "Conspiracy Theory", yang dibintangi Mel Gibson dan Julia Roberts serta "JFK" garapan Oliver Stone yang dibintangi Kevin Costner.

Ogut yakin semua peristiwa di dunia yang telah lalu memang ada yang sengaja tidak dipublikasikan untuk tujuan2 tertentu.

Kalau di Amrik istilahnya untuk menjaga kestabilan "National Security" negara tersebut.

Oh, well... only God Who Knows the real truth.

Anonymous sigit »
18 August, 2008 19:25  

ah ya, say no to democracy and human rights. because it's stupid.

*commenting your post before this one*

Blogger Patria Asmara »
23 August, 2008 20:35  

Oh iya... film "L.A. Confidential" garapan Curtis Hanson yang dibintangi Russell Crowe dan Kim Basinger juga layak ditonton kalo mau tau soal busuknya suatu konspirasi yang ditutup2i.

Kalo di negara kita banyak banget loch... mengenai konspirasi. Mulai dari masalah Timtim, Malari, Supersemar, Tanjung Priok, hilang dan diculiknya aktivis2 sekitar kerusuhan Mei 1998, Munir's murder, sampai yang aktual: BLBI (re: Aulia Pohan). Duh, dunia memang terasa kurang afdol kalo ga ada konspirasi.

Sigh :-(

Blogger Floresiana Yasmin Indriasti »
02 September, 2008 02:36  

kejadiannya hampir sama pernah terjadi juga di kampungnya bokap gue. Jamannya eyang buyut gue masih muda gitu.

Bersyukurlah kita ga hidup di masa itu..

Blogger batarahutagalung »
10 October, 2008 15:04  

to know more about Rawagede, please visit the weblog:
Batara R Hutagalung.

Blogger farahalfiahryandi »
20 September, 2011 08:48  

Kabarnya Kerajaan Belanda akan memberikan sejumlah dan perihal aksi tentara mereka di Pembataian Rawagede tersebut.

Seharusnya pemerintah Indonesia melakukan penolakan untuk tindakan Kerajaan Belanda tersebut, ini kan bukan tentang ganti rugi, tapi tentang beban trauma yg mereka rasakan selama puluhan tahun.

Trauma itu tersirat di dalam puisi Chairil Anwar, mereka bahkan menganggap kemerdekaan tidak berlaku di Rawagede.

Semoga Pemerintah bisa bertindak objektif, dan mengutamakan martabat bangsa. Jangan melulu dianggap matreliastis, cukup dikasih kompensasi dan kita bungkam...

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