Getting To Know Johannes A. Dimara: The Papuan Freedom Fighter Who Had Won President Soekarno’s Respect

Not many people recognize Johannes A. Dimara. Whereas this Papuan born is an independence fighter when the liberation of West Irian was intensively carried out under the command of President Sukarno, around 1949-until it was liberated. In 2010, his name was designated as a National Hero. History shows that he was so inspiring to Soekarno.

Ir. Soekarno, the father of Indonesia’s independence has always given special attention for Papua. In his speech in UN General Assemblyentitled “Re-Establishing The World”, President Soekarno mentioned that Papua’s issue is an unfinished imperialism world problem. 

So, what is the connection between Soekarno and Dimara? And what was Dimara’s role?

Dimara, as he’s usually called, is a Papuan native born in Korem, North Biak, Papua, 16 April 1916. He spent 13 years of his childhood in Papua, before he was brought by his parents to Ambon to continue their education to become the Christian Religion teacher. Dimara was a freedom fighter when he joined Heiho as a member in Ambon, coordinated by Japan which at that time occupied Indonesia.

Johannes A. Dimara
Four heroes from Papua. Via kodam17cenderawasih.mil.id

Dimara’s nationalism grew when he learned that the Netherlands has recognized the independence of Indonesia and Indonesia has proclaimed its independence in Jakarta. However, its not the same for Papua. His homeland was still being fought for by the Netherlands and Indonesia. Just like the most beautiful girl in the village, Papua had become the primadonna that was being contested by many colonizers, a fact which is still relevant until today.

Dimara was burnt with passion. Together with Yos Sudarso, he pioneered the fight for freedom in East Indonesia by spreading the news of the proclamation in the land of Cendrawasih. He went through the fight to have the Papuan independence by joining the OPI (West Irian Liberation Organization). Dimara’s movement became increasingly tougher when he carried out infiltration or incursion into the inland of Papua, together with 40 of his men. Rough terrains of the Papuan inland did not hinder him. Dimara, along with the troops and a number of people were fully armed and ready to fight the Dutch. This action was known by the Dutch’s VOC. Dimara was hunted. Eleven of his men were killed. He and his troops were left in jail. However, Dimara is a true warrior. He still continued his resistance in the Netherlands after he was released.

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Dimara’s struggle to liberate West Irian did not occur only on the battlefield. He also fought through diplomacy by becoming member of the Indonesian delegation to the United Nations to discuss his native land to be released. Having success in international forums, Dimara came back to fight with Trikora formed by Soekarno. The fight for West Irian liberation continued to be echoed. Dimara’s struggle was not lost in vain. With the New York Agreement in August 15, 1961, the military confrontation between the Netherlands and Indonesia ended. Indonesia won, Papua is at hand!

The Statue of Lapangan Banteng (Banteng Square)

Jakarta which represents the face of Indonesia in general, has become the location of several historical statues. One of them is the statue of a person standing with both hands up to the sky. There’s broken chain on one of the statue’s hand and foot. Apparently, the statue is a symbol of Dimara’s heroism with his persistence to take over West Irian.

In a biography titled FA IDO MA, MA IDO FA, The Passage of Papuan People’s Fight, J.A. Dimara, told the story how the statue was first built. Dimara’s hard struggle to hoist the Indonesian flag in Papua touched the heart of many people. Soekarno was no  exception. This success was celebrated with a parade in front of the national palace. Dimara who appeared in the parade was seen wearing a broken chain on his body as a symbol of the Papua’s freedom from colonization over the Netherlands. This symbolic act had inspired Soekarno to eternalize the struggle of Dimara and his troops in West Irian liberation into a monument in Banteng Square, Jakarta.

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Johannes A. Dimara

Quoted from patungindonesia.com, the history of the making of West Irian Liberation Statue are:

The West Irian Liberation Statue is 9 meters in height from foot to head. While the overall height to the tip of the hand reaches 11 meters.

The height of West Irian Liberation Statue is 20 meters if measured from its bridge, while the height from the base is 25 meters.

The West Irian Liberation Statue is made from bronze, weighing more than 8 tons.

The West Irian Liberation Statue was done by a team of sculptors from Yogyakarta.

The West Irian Liberation Statue is located in Banteng Square, which is a spacious and strategic location because it is close to Kemayoran Airport.


 

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