By Quinn, Nation, and Millett
Published here with authors’ permission
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Indonesia is now a free country, but 180 years ago it was not free. It was in the hands of the Dutch. The Indonesian people were very poor because they had to pay a lot of money to the Dutch, and only a few Indonesians were able to go to school. Because of these things, most of the kings of Java and of the other Indonesian islands as well as the Indonesian people were against the Dutch, and they wanted to free their country from their rule. One day a group of brave people attacked the Dutch. Diponegoro was the leader of these people.
Diponegoro was born the son of a king in 1785. He was a Muslim, and he loved his people and his country. In 1825 the Dutch decided to build a road through his land. Diponegoro told them to stop but they did not listen to him and they continued to build the road. After this happened, Diponegoro started to fight the Dutch and many Javanese people joined him in his fight. The war that Diponegoro and his army fought against the Dutch is now known as the Diponegoro War.
Diponegoro’s men did not have as many guns as the Dutch soldiers. Because of this Diponegoro’s army used a different way of fighting them. They came out of the forest and suddenly attacked them and then quickly hid themselves in the forest again, where the Dutch soldiers couldn’t find them. The Dutch army was not good at fighting in this way so they always lost and Diponegoro’s men won back most of the middle of Java. The Dutch way of fighting was different. They built long roads which they used to go from one place to another quickly and easily. This meant they did not need to go through the forest to fight Diponegoro’s army. It seemed as if the war would never end.
At that time the Dutch had many enemies in Indonesia and they were fighting many different wars. They were trying to find a way to stop the war with Diponegoro because it was expensive for them. They tried to talk with Diponegoro and his friends, but Diponegoro would not meet them because he knew that the Dutch were dangerous. The Dutch leaders tried to make friends with Diponegoro’s people by offering to give them land if they left Diponegoro and stopped fighting against them but the Javanese people loved Diponegoro and did not listen to them.
The war continued for 5 years until 1830, when Diponegoro was asked to come to a meeting with the Dutch leaders. They promised him that after the meeting he could go safely back to his own people. But the Dutch leaders lied. When Diponegoro arrived at the place for the meeting, they caught him and would not let him go. He was sent to Jakarta and in April 1830 he was sent away from Java to an island. He stayed there for 10 years, and then he was sent to another island in 1840. He died there in 1845.
Diponegoro is now a famous name in Indonesia. People remember his brave fight for his country against Dutch rule. In almost every town in Indonesia, you can find a Diponegoro street, and in one of the biggest towns in Java you will find the Diponegoro University.