Tanah Burung Independence

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Nineteenth century Knootoss
Knootian history
Early 20th century
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This entry deals with the independence of Tanah Burung from Knootoss and the Knootian 'police actions' held in that nation in order to keep the colony from becoming independent. While it is part of the 'Knootian history' table above, it a part of Tanah Burung history.

The independence of Tanah Burung and the police actions (Knootian perspective)


At the beginning of the 20th century, the Burungi independence movement began to gain momentum. In Knootoss, the idea that Tanah Burung would become an independent state was thought of as preposterous. There was a notion, however, that Tanah Burung could get its own position within a Knootian Federation. There was a passage cautiously referring to ‘more independence’ in the 7 December speech in 1931 by the Prime Minister, who spoke of a people growing up slowly, and the responsibility of the Republic to nurture the people of the East Indies to adulthood “like is the responsibility of a good parent towards its children.”

But despite some efforts to install a ‘Volksraad’, an advisory ‘peoples council’ with native Burungi’s as members, there was little progress and after decades of flaring unrest here and there, the flag of independence was raised in the capital Nieuw Hoorn and in the Matebian mountains. Keeping with that idea of a slow pace towards more independence, the Knootians believed that order had to be restored to the colony to get rid of what a political majority considered a collection of rampokkers (disturbers of the peace). The general idea was that Knootoss had to “rush to the aid” of the beleaguered colony as soon as possible. Referring to ‘7 December’ the government appealed to the high-minded assistance ideas by which it had been inspired.

For this purpose, war volunteers were drafted with posters o­n which the Knootian guinea pig was displayed wearing a soldiers-uniform, with a trumpet o­n top of the globe stating: “See the world, pack for the Knootian East Indies.” Additionally, the poorly maintained Knootian East Indian Army (KEIA) was rebuilt. This army primarily consisted of native fighters armed, trained and led by Knootian officers. Where possible, local nobility had been drafted to serve a ceremonial leadership role in the KEIA, with the Knootian officers in “advisory” functions. After about a year of chaos in the colony, the first fresh Knootian troops arrived o­n the island of Tiga Burung to engage the fledgling independence movement. The first division had been named after the speech of the Prime Minister: “7 December division” to again reflect the high-minded ideals that had brought Republican forces halfway across the globe to the Emerald Heights region.

In the same period the Knootian governor-general Vogels signed a treaty with loyalist Burungi nobility that declared an armistice. The Knootians, in turn, promised a Knootian Federation in a decade. Playing different sections of the nobility and the different tribes against each other had always maintained Knootian hegemony in the region and this time, Vogels believed, would be no different. The vast majority of the Burungis, however, now desired full independence which is what this agreement did not confirm. New ideologies were sweeping the nation - ironically often spread by Burungi’s who had been educated at Knootian universities. Nationalism, socialism and communism inspired the resistance to go o­n regardless of the wishes of old, artificially propped-up, nobility whose traditions had since long been maintained with Knootian protection. Despite the treaty with the nobility, the revolution gained the support of the Liurai of Loro Sae and the Sultan of Burung Paradis who actively sabotaged the treaty. The agreement thus provided the rebelling Burungi’s with the breathing space they needed to garner more strength. For the right wing in the Staten-Generaal it was totally unacceptable but the document was still signed in the palace district of Nieuw Hoorn in a ceremony involving many ancient and complicated Burungi diplomatic rituals.

The first police action

Gradually the “armistice” situation escalated as the rebels targeted Knootian economic targets such as lone plantations and warehouses where spices were stored for transfer to Europe. When the economic interests of the Knootian ventures o­n the mainland started to get in serious danger, the cabinet of Prime Minister Oud decided to start a campaign to protect those interests. This became the first police action, a wild jungle-campaign which lasted o­ne long summer. "Police" is a fantastic description for the troop power available: including the KEIA there were more than 124,000 men under the command of General Webermann.

‘Operation Market’ had a limited aim, namely to secure Knootian economic interests and stop the attacks. That limited scope had certainly not been the wish of the military commander, general Webermann, who had advocated extensive actions which would have to lead to the complete elimination of the rebel powerbase. For a short time these plans circulated, but the soldiers got did not get their way. Military action remained limited to ‘Market’

Operation Market achieved - with limited loss of men - the security for Knootian economic interests, but it had not established order and rest the politicians had hoped for. It left Knootoss patrolling Tanah Burung with an enormous troop force and with a frustrated army command which had the feeling that the job had not been finished.

The second police action

Back in Europe, the Right was displeased that the Burungi independence movement still existed, and since the beginning of ‘Market’ the conservatives put strong pressure o­n the government for more action. The coalition government however, continued to be violently divided o­n the issue after the first police action was finished, and it feared that the UN and other nations would sympathise with the rebels if an all-out war was undertaken.

Although Prime Minister Oud was initially against renewed military action, he radically changed his of point of view when in September, o­ne year after the first police action, a communist insurrection broke out in Loro Sae, which quickly spread to Burung Paradis. A ‘Peoples Government’ was declared and ‘peoples representatives’ were appointed. Oud feared a recognition of the ‘Peoples Government’ by communist and socialist countries now that a large chunk of the colony was no longer under Knootian control and the liberal strongly insisted o­n military action. This all took place during a cold war: If Knootoss were to take action in

[...] Bit of information lost. Will repair later 01:20, 4 Oct 2004 (GMT)

The primary military objective of the Knootians, to retake New Hoorn, was accomplished quickly and Burungi leaders in town were handed over to local Knootian-approved nobility and were subsequently publicly executed o­n the main square. But the guerrilla raged o­n. Considerably more losses were suffered by the Knootians and slowly but surely it became a military and political catastrophe. Instead of gaining international support for the fight against communism, the world saw images of burning villages and piles of corpses o­n their black-and-white televisions. Attacks o­n economic targets continued, making all entrepreneurial efforts in the Knootian East Indies unprofitable.

Back home, public support turned against the war and the o­nce popular Prime Minister Oud was losing strongly in the polls. An election in the second year of ‘Operation Burungi Liberty’ brought a critically weakened liberal party back to power. But Oud, now a politically broken man haunted by images of mass graves and atrocities, had gotten the message. For o­ne more bloody year the Knootian East Indian army struggled to restore order in its colony but it was impossible to guard all the villages and jungle roads. Oud finally made the painful decision to abandon the Knootian East Indies altogether, leaving it to become Tanah Burung. The move was described in the press as the Republic ‘cutting its losses’. With that came an end to Knootoss as colonial world power and to the most extensive military operation which that country had ever undertaken entirely o­n its own strength: a police action, an order measure.

The new Burungi government was never officially recognised by Knootoss as legitimate, and the Knootians more or less collectively ignored the painful episode until a treaty was signed with Peoples Representative Violetta Bi Bere many decades later.

A new look at the revolution (Tanah Burung perspective)

By Taufik Sujatmoko, Dept. of History, Lovefest University

War clouds gather in the Emerald Seas. The enemy? It seems impossible, but o­nce again, perhaps, our country faces a "police action" at the hands of Knootoss.

The two "police actions" during the revolution against Knootian colonial rule, of course, are famous here as "the two aggressions." The Knootians have a gift for euphemism, for using words that don't mean exactly what they say. "Police action" for aggression by tens of thousands of soldiers. "Peace and order" for a colonial occupation that systematically underdeveloped our country, draining its riches to the colonial metropole, so that Amsterdam could receive the tribute of the world. "Docile burungtjes" for the mass of our people who they called "little bids" and claimed to be "protecting" -- people who in the revolution, proved themselves not so docile after all.

The story of the two aggressions is well known. Tanah Burung declared its independence, and the Knootian forces struck back, capturing major cities including their old colonial capital of New Hoorn, now the city of Ukun Rasikan. Less well known is how the war ended. In the Knootian telling, they simply withdrew. Some diehards say Prime Minister Oud lacked the will and fortitude to fight o­n, and certainly he was an ethical liberal by colonial standards.

In Tanah Burung, though, it is told differently. We are taught that our forces, through their noble spirit and determination, drove out the militarily advanced forces of the colonizer, winning a glorious victory. Songs are sung of it: ironic in a land with no martial spirit to speak of.

As is so often the case in history, the truth lies somewhere between the myths. Yes, the Knootian forces withdrew, no clear-cut military victory having been won. Yes, that meant triumph for the local irregulars, since they were now free to build the independent United Provinces. But really, the reasons the war ended were economic: Tanah Burung had been a profitable colony, but war and scorched earth tactics meant there was no profit left to make: and so the good burghers cut their losses and moved o­n to more profitable ventures. The real story that followed was how a united nation was forged over deep regional divisions.

Tanah Burung was a patchwork of different kingdoms, sultanates and autonomous villages, all in fief to the East India Company. There was no common language. The o­nly thing holding it all together was Knootian rule. But that gave the people a common enemy, and as history teaches, there is nothing better calculated to bring people together.

Spare a thought, though, for the wisdom of the founders. The last member of the revolutionary generation, Markus Rumbiak, passed away recently. It's ironic indeed that his name lies at the centre of the new clash with Knootoss. Rumbiak pioneered the people's councils that began to build grassroots democracy where the colonial era had taught us none, save a national edifice called the Volksraad that represented o­nly the elites. In Loro Sae, Rumbiak began to create village councils, government by referendum, and a social revolution that swept away the feudal chiefs who had shared common interest with the Knootian administration. It's no accident that Loro Sae fought hardest, that Knootian soldiers tried to avoid combat there in favour of easier battles in more southerly provinces.

And so the Loro Sae militias fought o­nly o­ne major engagement, the famous Battle of Vogelskop (now Kepala Burung). That battle is celebrated in Loro Sae songs as the heroic holding of a mountain pass against superior numbers. Recent research indicates that after an initial assault was thrown back, native conscripts among the Knootian forces simply refused to fight any longer against the "sorcerers" of Loro Sae: here, symbols of mystical potency were displayed to good effect by the defenders. Rumbiak's legendary sexual prowess was said to confer invulnerabiltiy upon those who fought under his banner. Scientifically, of course, this is a fiction. But psychologically, such beliefs carry great power. And so, however short of the legends it falls, the battle was won and Rumbiak had the victory that gave him a place in the revolutionaary councils among the other fighters.

The success of the Loro Sae social revolution was copied in other provinces. But the local autonomy principle remained strong. When Mau Kiri Rai, the guerrilla leader from Matebian, called for a centralized state as the focus of unity againat the Knootians, he was unable to carry the day. "We shall not be ruled from Tiga Burung any mroe than we shall be ruled from Knootcap," Rumbiak declared. And though he might have become President if he had chosen, being the most popular of the first generation of leaders, he preferred the federal system. And he convinced the other leaders -- Diosdado Hatta, Dato o­nn, Lobato, even Bung Sjahrir -- to accept that there would be no o­ne single leader. And so the threatened clash of Loro Sae versus Matebian versus Tiga Burung never took place. The result was the United Provinces structure: six provinces, alll self-governing, with a national government handling o­nly matters of foreign policy and education. (Since then, other functions have been handed, by mutual consent, to the centre, though the tradition of rotating the capital among the six provincial capitals continues to this day.)

When the first revolutionary council was established, Rumbiak was the o­nly member who could claim to have been elected, in a series of consultations at the village level in Loro Sae. The other provinces have held elections since, of course, and the revolutionary council replaced with a collective presidency composed of the six governors and the five people's representatives, each charged with a different function of government (foreign affairs, defence, education, the courts and economic affairs). Yet the revolutionary council played its role as the first bit of national unity entirely forged by local people, and not by a colonial outsider. Where the grassroots village meetings built political democracy, the revolutionary council treid to build economic democracy. Sadly this has been neglected in the fast growth of recent years, which ahs left so many behind and raised the rich-poor divide to unheard-of levels. We might do well to remember not o­nly the martial legacy of the revolution, which was admittedly slim, but also and more importantly the attempt by Rumbiak and others to build libertarian socialism in those foundational days.