Out of Exile

Out of Exile

Out of Exile

Out of Exile

Excerpt

In the summer of 1934, Soetan Sjahrir languished in a Java prison; a political "criminal" at twenty-five years of age. His "crime" had been the leadership of an organization that advocated widespread education for Indonesians. Thirteen years later Sjahrir took a seat at the Security Council of the United Nations at Lake Success to present the case of the embattled Indonesian Republic against Dutch military action in Java and Sumatra. He came as the first representative of a "nonsovereign" colonial people to proclaim his people's right to independence before the Council, and to ask that body's protection from colonial domination so that his country might be free to work out its own destiny.

Sjahrir's presentation before the Council was eloquent and effective. It began with the story of a people and an area with a recorded history of more than one thousand years-a history that was singularly unfamiliar to the ears of his listeners. The islands of the Indies had their golden periods under the Shrivijaya and Shailendra empires before the tenth century, and finally under the empire of Madjapahit in the fourteenth century stretching from Papua in the east through the Indonesian archipelago to Madagascar in the west. In the undefined rhythm of history, the political and economic expansion of the West came at a period of decline in the formerly rich and powerful empire of the Indies. Portugal first extended its dominion over part of . . .

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