Indonesian Independence and the Indonesian Flag – Sang Merah Putih

To celebrate August 17th, which is the anniversary of the Indonesian Proclamation of Independence, there will be millions of Indonesian flags flying over the Archipelago.

Almost every house, every street and every building will be flying the flag and continue flying the flag for the next month.

Soekarno together with Rear-Admiral Maeda and  Hatta reads out the Declaration of Independence on the front steps of his house on 17th August 1945
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The Declaration of Independence, 17th August 1945

After announcing the Declaration of Independence the Indonesian flag was raised outside Soekarno’s house. The flag was hand sewn by Soekarno’s wife Fatmawati and after the raising of the Indonesian flag the group sang the Indonesian National Anthem ‘Indonesia Raya’.

Ceremony of raising the Indonesian flag after the Declaration of Independence, 17 August 1945

During the Java war (1825-1830 AD) Prince Diponegoro wore a red and white banner in his struggle against the Dutch. Later, the colors were revived by students and then nationalists in the early 20th century as an expression of nationalism against the Dutch The red and white flag was used for the first time in Java in 1928. Under colonial rule, the flag was banned from use. The flag was officially used as the national flag of Indonesia on August 17,1945 when independence was declared and officially used since then.

Perhaps the most celebrated incident related to the flag occurred one month later in Surabaya on 19 September 1945, when Dutch citizens released from Japanese detention raised the Dutch flag over the former Hotel Oranje which under the Japanese occupation was known as the Hotel Yamato. This incensed the pro-nationalist Indonesian youth who climbed the hotel tower and tore away the lower blue portion of the Dutch flag to change it to the red-and-white Indonesian Flag.

The flag incident at the Yamato Hotel

Historical Plaque from what is now called the Hotel Majapahit

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About ianburnet

Author of the book, Spice Islands. Which tells the History, Romance and Adventure of the spice trade from the Moluccas in Eastern Indonesia over a period of 2000 years. Author of the book, East Indies.Which tells the history of the struggle between the Portuguese Crown, the Dutch East India Company and the English East India Company for supremacy in the Eastern Seas. Author of the book 'Archipelago - A Journey Across Indonesia'. Author of the book 'Where Australia Collides with Asia' Author of the book 'The Tasman Map'. Author of the book 'Eastern Voyages'.
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2 Responses to Indonesian Independence and the Indonesian Flag – Sang Merah Putih

  1. sarnason1@aol.com says:

    Ian – thanks so much for this message.  Goodness, it was a long time ago and yet, we remember.  Please keep the stories coming – you make my days with the messages about Indonesia and as a result, I am back again in the country of my birth.  Stay well and  I look forward to many more – Sia

  2. ianburnet says:

    Hello Sia. I hope you are well and thanks for your comments. I know you have stayed in the Majapahit Hotel in Surabaya and what a wonderful experience and great memory it is.

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