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Sukarno (June 6, 1901June 21, 1970) was the first President of Indonesia. He helped the country win its independence from the Netherlands but fell into disfavor with and was ultimately toppled by the United States during the Cold War because of his nationalism and policy of non-alignment.

Sukarno is also referred to as Ahmed Sukarno or Soekarno. Indonesians also refer to him as Bung Karno

The son of Javanesenese noble and his Balinese wife, Sukarno was born in Surabaya (Several sources said he was born in Blitar, East Java.) in Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). He was admitted into a Dutch-run school as a child. When his father sent him to Surabaya in 1916 to attend a secondary school, he met Tjokroaminoto, future nationalist. 1921 he begun to study at the Technische Hoogeschool in Bandung.

Sukarno was fluent in several languages, especially Dutch. He once remarked that when he was studying in Surabaya, he often sat behind the screen in movie theaters reading the Dutch subtitles in reverse, because he could not afford the regular front seating's price.

Sukarno became a leader of a Indonesian independence movement party, Partai Nasional Indonesia when it was founded in 1927. He was arrested in 1929 by Dutch colonial authorities and sentenced for two years in prison. By the time he was released, he had become a popular hero. In the 1930s he was again arrested several times.

During the World War II, Sukarno cooperated with Japanese occupation forces but also continued to agitate for Indonesian independence. He accepted the role of a Indonesian head of state under Japanese military supervision in July 1942 and in 1943 became the head of Putera, a political auxiliary organization. He also became head of Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia (BPUPKI), a Japanese-organized committee for Indonesian independence

After the Japanese defeat, Sukarno and Mohammed Hatta declared the Republic of Indonesia in August 17, 1945. In the ensuing chaos between various factions and Dutch attempt to re-establish colonial control, Dutch troops captured him in December 1948 but were forced to release him after the ceasefire. He returned to Jakarta in December 28 1949.

There were still attempts of military coups against Sukarno in 1956. Sukarno tried to establish guided democracy with a multiparty parliament. In this he had a tacit support of the Communist Party of Indonesia.

November 30 1957 there was a grenade attack against Sukarno when he was visiting a school in Jakarta. Six children were killed but Sukarno did not suffer any serious wounds. In December he ordered nationalization of 246 Dutch businesses. In February he began a breakdown of PRRI (Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia) rebels at Bukittingi.

Over the following years he established government control over media and book publishing and purge against Ethnic Chinese residents. In July 5 1959 he reestablished 1945 constitution, dissolved the parliament, molded it into his liking and assumed full personal power as a prime minister. He called the system as government-by-decree Manifesto Politik or Manipol. He sent his opponents to internal exile.

In the 1950s he increased his ties to Communist China and admitted more communists to his government. Thus he also received Soviet military aid.

In 1962 Sukarno ordered raids to West Irian (Dutch New Guinea). There were more assassination attempts when he visited Sulawesi in 1962. West Irian was brought under Indonesian authority in May 1963 under the Bunker Plan. In the same year in July Sukarno had himself proclaimed President for Life.

Sukarno also opposed the British-supported Federation of Malaysia, claiming that it was a "neo-colonial plot" to advance British interests. Despite of his political overtures, Malaysia was proclaimed in September 1963. This led to Indonesian Confrontation and the end of remaining US military aid to Indonesia. Sukarno withdrew Indonesia from the UN Security Council in 1965 and Malaysia took the seat. Sukarno also became increasingly ill and collapsed in public in August 9, 1965. He was secretly diagnosed with a kidney disease.

After an alleged Communist coup attempt on September 30, 1965 and the murder of six Indonesian generals, pro-American General Suharto took charge and launched a ferocious bloodbath in which upwards of half a million people, mostly landless peasants, were slaughtered. Suharto forced Sukarno to hand over executive powers on March 11, 1966. Sukarto was stripped of his presidential title on March 12, 1967 and he remained under house arrest until his death at age 69 in Jakarta in 1970.

Megawati Sukarnoputri, the current Indonesian president, is his daughter.


To the US ambassador: "Go to hell with your aid!"

See also