Today Indonesia celebrates its 65th independence day. Soekarno and Hatta declared this two days after Japan capitulated. Note: Dutch government acknowledged Indonesian independence in december 1949 after international pressure.
Merdeka means freedom. Indonesian guerilla troops often yelled this word while fighting against the Dutch. Even now, after more than a half of a century during celebrations of 17 Agustus (as Indonesians fondly call it), people still scream this yell out. This sets me to think why they keep doing it for the country has been free for 65 years. Instead of saying it out loud I’d rather have it fulfilled and applied in daily life there.
A legacy to take care of
Freedom is a precious legacy to take care of. Unfortunately what has occurred the past years in my beloved country seems to limit it. For example: the increasing religious tension. There are numerous groups saying they represent Islam. They are very determined to introduce Shariah Law to Indonesia. One thing they seem to ignore: although Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, officially it’s not an Islamic country. 5 religions are acknowledged by the government according to 5 pillars of Indonesia, Pancasila. Those faiths are: Islam, Christian, Catholic, Hindu and Buddha. Indonesian government should guarantee its citizens to be able to practice their faith. You know what I’m afraid of? If this escalates, Indonesia would be like second Yugoslavia in mid 90’es.
Definition of freedom
What does freedom mean? I gladly take Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedom speech as a solid definition; freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of want and freedom of fear. Roosevelt was convinced that these are fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy. so I say this includes those in Indonesia.
Apathetic of limited freedom
With the transparency of Internet I see many critical opinions about the current religious tension. I even read tweets about wishes of wanting Soeharto’s firm administration back because the government hasn’t done everything to prevent it from escalating. Is it wrong if I have then become apathetic about the future of my beloved home country? Of course it is easy for me to be apathetic of this limited freedom cause I reside abroad. When confronted by a headline about yet another apprehension of a corrupted person there, I just skip the page, so easy as that. Therefore I really admire my friends there. They are confronted with these issues daily but yet they manage to deal with them. Some of them spread the words, some are silent.
Right or wrong
I may dislike its government but right or wrong Indonesia is my home country. That’s the fact. So I hope there are many Indonesians like my friends out there who are strongly determined to preserve the freedom as our founding fathers gained it for us 65 years ago.
Happy Independence Day Indonesia. May prosperity and peace are given upon you!