17 August 1945 was a sacred day for Indonesians: a declaration of independence, a rejection of colonialism. It was a long journey for the nation to achieve independence and in fact it continued to 1949, when the Dutch finally ‘accepted’ the nation’s sovereignty. Here are the historical sites of Indonesia’s Independence in Jakarta, the landmarks that are silent witnesses of Indonesia’s struggle for independence that together make up the story of the country’s ‘birth’.
Bandara Kemayoran (Kemayoran Airport)
Jalan Gunung Sahari Selatan, Kemayoran, Central Jakarta 10619
The history of Indonesia’s proclamation cannot be separated from the arrival of the youth group to welcome Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta at Kemayoran Airport. Starting from the concern of the youth leaders after knowing that Japan had lost in World War II, those who at that time were active in the world movement could not wait to hear news from Soekarno and Hatta who had just met Japanese General Hisachi Terauchi in Dalat, Vietnam.
When the plane carrying Soekarno and Hatta landed at Kemayoran Airport, they heard Soekarno deliver a short speech shortly after landing.
“If I previously said that Indonesia would be independent after the corn bore fruit, now it can be said that Indonesia will be independent before the corn flowered,” said Soekarno which was recounted by Mohammad Hatta in his autobiography Untuk Negeriku, Menuju Gerbang Kemerdekaan (For My Country, Towards the Gate of Independence).
This airport officially ceased operations on 31 March 1985 with the start of the transfer of flight activities to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. The former land is now the location for the Jakarta Fair event which is held every year for DKI Jakarta’s birthday every 22 June.
Museum Perumusan Naskah Proklamasi
(Formulation of Proclamation Text Museum)
Jalan Imam Bonjol No.1, Menteng, Central Jakarta 10310
This building became the birthplace of the text of the proclamation of Indonesian independence. Founded around 1920 with European architecture, this building was the home of Admiral Tadashi Maeda, a Japanese naval officer who helped Indonesia formulate the text of the proclamation.
After the defeat of Japan, this building became the British Army Headquarters. In 1961, this building was contracted by the British Embassy until 1981. Then this building was received by the Ministry of Education and Culture on 28 December 1981. In 1982, this building was used as the office of the National Library. In 1984, the Minister of Education and Culture Nugroho Notosusanto, instructed the Directorate of Museums to recognise this historic building as the Museum for the Formulation of Proclamation Text.
Tugu Proklamasi (Proclamation Monument)
Jalan Proklamasi No. 10, Pegangsaan, Menteng, Central Jakarta 10320.
This place became the location where Soekarno, accompanied by Mohammad Hatta, read the Proclamation Text of Indonesian Independence. The monument was Soekarno’s house. At that time, Soekarno read the text on the front porch of his house, at Jalan Pegangsaan Timur No. 56, Jakarta. The road’s name was changed to Jalan Proklamasi. The historic house itself has been torn down, but the symbolic building remains at that point. At the location also stands the Tugu Petir, the Soekarno-Hatta Statue, and the Tugu Wanita.
Despite protests, the original Proclamation Monument and the Proclamation Building were dismantled on 15 August 1960. After President Soekarno was removed from power, President Suharto rebuilt the Proclamation Monument in the original location and with the same form. The Proclamation Monument was then inaugurated on 17 August 1972.
Gedung Joang 45
Jalan Menteng Raya No. 31, Kebon Sirih, Central Jakarta 10340.
In the past, this building was a hotel run by the L.C. family. Schomper, a Dutch businessman, served as a shelter for high-ranking Dutch officials, foreign businessmen, and native officials visiting Batavia. Schomper and his family lived happily in his hotel. The hotel was confiscated by the Japanese military and turned into a dormitory and a place for political education for Indonesian youth. This political education was financed by Japan with the hope that the youth could support the interests of Greater East Asia.
In an ironic twist of fate, the feedom fighters such as Soekarno, Mohammad Hatta, Adam Malik, and Chairil Saleh participated in breaking the Japanese occupiers. They were the ones who educated young people to fight for the independence of the country. After that, the building changed its name to the Gedung Menteng 31 and the residents were called Pemuda Menteng 31. Many historical objects of the struggle of Indonesian youth are still well-stored.
Lapangan Ikada (Ikada Square)
Jalan Medan Merdeka, Central Jakarta
Lapangan Ikada (Ikada stands for Ikatan Atletik Djakarta or Jakarta Athletic Association) became the first location of the largest meeting between Indonesian citizens and a government represented by President Soekarno, Vice President Mohammad Hatta, and ministers. The initiator of the giant meeting was spearheaded by youths of the Van Action Committee.
After the proclamation of independence, clashes often occurred between Indonesian youths and the Japanese military authorities. At that time, Japan had not left and was going to hand over Indonesia’s status quo to the allies. The youth became even more worried when they heard that the allied forces would form a headquarters in Jakarta.
So, the Van Action Committee then organised a mass public meeting to be held at Lapangan Ikada. All levels of society from Jakarta, Bogor, Bekasi, Tangerang, Karawang, Sukabumi, Cianjur, and Bandung joined together with an estimated number of 300,000 people. They were not afraid even though the Japanese soldiers were on standby with weapons in hand. The Japanese, who were not happy with this incident, even surrounded the field with tanks.
President Soekarno, who the masses had waited for since the morning, finally arrived at around 3 pm. President Soekarno came with Mohammad Hatta and the ministers to give a short speech, “We have proclaimed Indonesian Independence. We are still defending this proclamation, we are not withdrawing anything. In the meantime, we have drawn up a plan. Let’s submit our plan. Be calm, be peace, but remain ready to accept orders that we provide,” quoted from Kompas Daily (18 September 1976).