'Bung Tomo'
Minister of State for the Affairs of Former Indonesian Fighters
In office
12 August 1955 – 24 Maret 1956
Prime MinisterBurhanuddin Harahap
Succeeded byDahlan Ibrahim
Minister of Social Affairs
In office
18 Januari 1956 – 24 Maret 1956
Prime MinisterBurhanuddin Harahap
Preceded bySoedibjo
Succeeded byFatah Jasin
Personal details
Born(1920-10-03)3 October 1920
 Dutch East Indies
Died7 October 1981(1981-10-07) (aged 61)
Mount Arafat,
 Saudi Arabia
Political party
  • Gerakan Rakyat Baru (New People's Movement)
  • Pemuda Republik Indonesia (Youth of Indonesian Republic)
AwardsNational Hero of Indonesia
Military service
Allegiance Indonesia
RankFront Leader
CommandsIndonesian People's Revolutionary Front
Battles/warsBattle of Surabaya (1945)
Indonesian National Revolution (1945–1949)

Sutomo (3 October 1920 – 7 October 1981),[1] also known as Bung Tomo (meaning Comrade or Brother Tomo), is best known for his role as an Indonesian military leader during the Indonesian National Revolution against the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. He played a central role in Battle of Surabaya when the British attacked the city in October and November 1945.

Early life

Official portrait, 1955

Sutomo was born in Kampung Blauran in the centre of Surabaya to a clerk father, Kartawan Tjiptowidjojo, and mother, Subastia, of mixed Javanese, Sundanese and Madurese descent. He had received Dutch secondary education before the Japanese occupation.

Alongside menial jobs, he joined the Indonesian Scouting organisation and at the age of seventeen as the second Pramuka Garuda; a rank achieved by only three Indonesians before the Japanese occupation during World War II.

Japanese occupation

During the Japanese occupation period, Sutomo worked for the Dōmei Tsushin (the official news agency of the Empire of Japan) in Surabaya. He became famous for setting up Radio Pemberontakan (Resistance Radio), which promoted unity and fighting spirit among pemuda-pemuda Indonesia (Indonesian youth).

In 1944, Sutomo was chosen as a member of the Japanese-sponsored Gerakan Rakyat Baru (New People's Movement) and officer of Pemuda Republik Indonesia (Youth of Indonesian Republic).

Indonesian National Revolution

Main articles: Indonesian National Revolution, Indonesian People's Revolutionary Front, and Battle of Surabaya

Indonesian People's Revolutionary Front

On 12 October 1945, Sutomo founded and become a leader of Indonesian People's Revolutionary Front (Indonesian: Barisan Pemberontakan Rakyat Indonesia), abbreviated as BPRI, is an Indonesian militia, with its headquarters in Surabaya.[2]: 42  BPRI was aimed at realizing and defending the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence, they rallied the people's resistance against the Dutch who wanted to reign Indonesia after the Surrender of Japan in World War II.[3]: 122 

During the Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) occupation, in the early stages of the Indonesian National Revolution, in the Bersiap period, Sutomo encouraged atrocities against Indonesians of mixed European–Asian ancestry[4][5] and personally supervised the summary executions of hundreds of civilians. These are archived eye witness testimony of the events of 22 October 1945.[6]

Battle of Surabaya

He played a central role when the battle broke out in Surabaya between Indonesian nationalists and Anglo-Indian forces. Although the fighting ended in defeat for the Indonesians, the battle served to galvanise Indonesian and international opinion in support of the independence cause. Sutomo spurred thousands of Indonesians to action with his distinctive, emotional speaking-style of his radio broadcasts. His "clear, burning eyes, that penetrating, slightly nasal voice, or that hair-raising oratorical style that second only to Sukarno's in its emotional power".[1]

Hey British soldiers! As long as the Indonesian bulls, the youth of Indonesia, have red blood that can make a piece of white cloth, red and white, we will never surrender. Friends, fellow fighters, especially the youth of Indonesia, we will fight on, we will expel the colonialists from our Indonesian land that we love... Long have we suffered, been exploited, trampled on. Now is the time for us to seize our independence. Our motto remains: FREEDOM OR DEATH. ALLAHU AKBAR!... ALLAHU AKBAR!... ALLAHU AKBAR!... FREEDOM!"

Bung Tomo's speech, 9 November 1945.[7]

10 November 1945, the peak of the Battle of Surabaya, was later known as Hari Pahlawan (Heroes’ Day), to commemorate and honor the struggles of heroes and fighters in defending Indonesian independence.

The battle for Surabaya was the bloodiest single engagement of the war, and demonstrated the determination of the rag-tag nationalist forces; their sacrificial resistance became a symbol and rallying cry for the revolution. Later, in November 1946, the last British troops left Indonesia.


In 1955, Sutomo become a minister of state in the Burhanuddin Harahap Cabinet between August 1955 and March 1956, an appointment which pleased cabinet supporters because of his nationalist credentials.[8] However, his relationship with President Sukarno had already begun to sour in 1952 after he offended the president by asking about the president's personal relationship with Hartini, a married woman who later became Sukarno's fourth wife.[9][10] Sutomo would later sued Sukarno in 1960, due to the president's decision to dissolve the People's Representative Council.[11][12]

After the 1956, Sutomo emerged again as a national figure during the 1965 turbulent period. Initially, he supported Suharto to replace the left-leaning Sukarno government, but later opposed aspects of the New Order regime.[1]

On 11 April 1978, he was detained by the government for his outspoken criticism of corruption and abuses of power; upon his release three years later, however, Sutomo continued to loudly voice his criticisms. He said that he did not want to be buried in the Heroes' Cemetery because it was full of "fairweather heroes" who had lacked the courage to defend the nation at times of crisis, but when peace came appeared in public to glorify their achievements.[13]


On 7 October 1981, he died in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, while on Hajj pilgrimage.[1] Before his death, Sutomo managed to finish a draft of his own dissertation on the role of religion in village-level development. His family and friends had his body returned to Indonesia. Although his reputation and military rank gave him the right to be buried in the Heroes' Cemetery, he was laid to rest in public burial ground at Ngagel, Surabaya, East Java.


On 9 June 1947, Sutomo married Sulistina in Malang, East Java.[7] He was known as a devoutly religious father of four who took religious knowledge seriously throughout his life.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Frederick 1982.
  2. ^ Bung Tomo: Soerabaja di Tahun 45. Tokoh Militer (in Indonesian). Tim Buku TEMPO. 2015.
  3. ^ Sarip, Muhammad (2015). Samarinda Bahari, Sejarah 7 Zaman Daerah Samarinda. Samarinda: Komunitas Samarinda Bahari (in Indonesian). ISBN 978-602-736-170-6.
  4. ^ Sidjaja, Calvin Michel (22 October 2011). "Who is responsible for 'Bersiap'?". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2023-03-22.
  5. ^ Meijer, Hans. 'In Indie geworteld, de Geschiedenis van Indische Nederlanders, de twintigste eeuw.' (Publisher Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 2004) P.245 ISBN 90-351-2617-3. Note: Citing Dutch newspaper 'De Haagsche Post', article dated 4 December 1954."Extremists Run Amok Against Indische-Nederlanders | Dutch-Indonesian Community". Archived from the original on 2011-12-10. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  6. ^ Note: These legal testimonies formerly designated top secret have been made public and are available online. See: Van der Molen, Pia Bussemaker, Herman Archief van Tranen website (2012). Document: 125_A_B_C_D_E_F Online archive
  7. ^ a b Sulistina Soetomo 1995.
  8. ^ Feith 2009, p. 419-420.
  9. ^ Taufiq, Fery (2020). PEKIK TAKBIR BUNG TOMO Perjalanan Hidup, Kisah Cinta & Perjuangannya (in Indonesian). Araska Publisher. ISBN 978-623-7537-74-8.
  10. ^ Chairunnisa, Ninis (2017-11-12). "Bung Tomo dan Bung Karno Pernah Bertengkar Sampai Banting Piring". Tempo. Retrieved 2022-12-04.
  11. ^ Hatta, Mohammad (1986). Hati nurani melawan kezaliman: surat-surat Bung Hatta kepada Presiden Soekarno, 1957-1965 (in Indonesian). Penerbit Sinar Harapan.
  12. ^ MAPPAPA, Imam Wahyudiyanta, PASTI LIBERTI. "Menggugat Presiden Ala Bung Tomo". detiknews (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2022-12-04.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Wahyudi, M Zaid (10 November 2007). Kompas. pp. 1 & 15. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)