The modern nationalist movement of Indonesia was little developped outside the two main cities on Sulawesi, but still in many areas there was a strong latent resistance against the Duch rule. In the early 1940's - several weeks before the arrival of the Japanese - a commitee lead by Nani Wartabone in Gorontalo gained power and emprisoned the Dutch community. The same happened in Luwuk, Tolitoli and Bone. The independence commitees were wiped out by the Japanese however; the red-white Indonesian flag which they had raised with pride, was forbidden. An outspoken nationalist from Minahasa, which had studied in Zürich (Switzerland). dr. Sam Ratulangie (1890-1949), was brought from Jawa to lead the propagandistic organisation Sudara and to 'advice' the army on Sulawesi. After the independence in August 1945, Ratulangie was named the first republican governor of Sulawesi by Soekarno.
Return of the Dutch
On 21 September the Australian troops arrived in Makassar and on 2 October to accept the Japanese surrender. They were welcomed enthousiastically by the Indonesians, among them even the republican movement. The resistance of young activists was mainly aimed against the Dutch, and only when the Australians gave the government back to the Dutch in January 1946, serious fights broke out. Young nationalists attacked Dutch units in Palopo (South-Sulawesi) and occupied the location for two days, where they suffered from heavy losses because the Dutch were better equipped.
Even in Minahasa, where the Dutch recruted new soldiers for the colonial army hastely, there was indignation about the unexpected return of the colonial rule. In this area the first members of the KNIL revolted on 14 February 1946. A month long the rebels controlled a big part of the area around Manado, but eventually they signed a peacefull agreement with the Dutch.
In the south there was little support fot the returned Dutch, except under the christian and other minorities and several Buginese aristocrats. In April 1946, after a number of skirmishes with patriottic youth-armies, the Dutch arrested Ratulangie, his six most important workers and the royals of Bone and Luwu'. The resistance from the youth replaced to Jawa, to return at the end of 1946 with better weapons and military training. Lead by the fearsome Raymong 'de Turk' Westerling, the Dutch struck back hard. Between December 1946 and March 1947, around 3,000 people were killed in the name of contra-terror.
Battle for power
In an effort to equalise the popularity of the revolutionary Republic of Indonesia, the Dutch launched the initiative to found the state of East-Indonesia with Makassar as the capital in December 1946. The first prime-minister was the ambitious Nadjamoeddin, which tried to get his state to the attention of the United Nations, in which he didn't succeed. In September 1949 he was accused of corruption, after he had collided with his employees. Already on 17 August 1950 the state was swallowed by Republik Indonesia. The victory of the republic didn't only end the Dutch colonial rule, but also announced the end to all the local Sulawesi kingdoms which had ruled Sulawesi for centuries.
The severe conflicts in the period 1950-1965 took place in the army. The end of the revolution showed a fight for power between different groups, which had fought against the Dutch in the jungle of Sulawesi or on Jawa. The leader of the unsatisfied in South-Sulawesi was Kahar Muzakkar, a Buginese teacher which had played an important role in the organisation of the youth from Sulawesi on Jawa. In June 1950 he gave up his position in the Indonesian army (TNI) and started a revolt, which was periodically broken by negotiations. Resistance got a more islamic character and finally added with the West-Jawa based darul Islam, in name fighting for an islamic state. In South-Sulawesi the government only had control over the most important cities, Selayar and Tana Toraja.
Revolt in the north
The unhappiness in North-Sulawesi was based more on economical than on political motives and concentrated on the booming trade in copra and the inefficient efforts of the central government to regulate and control this. Entire Sulawesi shared the common dissatisfaction in that period, which was partially formed by regionalism, partially from impatience by weakness of the government in Jakarta, partially also from excessive expectations that were left from the revolution. On 2 May 1957, fifty persons, among them military people, signed the Permesta Proclamation (the name comes from Piagam perjuangan Semesta Alam) in Makassar. At the same time a state of emergency was announced over entire eastern Indonesia by the military leader of Minahasa, Ventje Sumual. The prominent signers denied to be rebels, but fought for fundamental changes in the way business was done in the region.
Within three months, Jakarta had undermined the support for the permesta movement in the south by founding a military command for South- and Southeast-Sulawesi under Buginese-Makassarese authority. Lieutenant-colonel Sumual, the last of a series of North-Sulawesi officers which had lead military things on the island, returned to Manado in June. After that, North-Sulawesi was the only safe place for the Parmesta's. In February 1958 the movement closed in on the more open rebellious movement PRRI, which had it's base on Sumatera. The target was not only to protect regional interests against Jakarta, but mainly to stop the authoritarian, communist influenced government under the personal rule of Soekarno. The PRRI got weapons and even some air support from the United States.
The central government reacted with full power. Manado was bombarded on 22 February, but after that the government needed time until May to fight the Sumateran rebels. TNI entered North-Sulawesi and took Manado on 26 June, but could only occupy the rebel headquarters in Kotamobagu in September 1959. The resistance finally broke in 1961.
In the south, restoring power of the government was mainly the work of colonel Andi Mohammad Jusuf, a Buginese military man, educated in Bandung and in Fort Benning in the United States. He was named to local commander in 1959 and succeeded later in creating a loyal group of people. In 1965 he became a member of the cabinet and later Minister of Defence. The other factor in the defeat of Kahar Muzakkar was the Siliwangi Division, which was brought from Jawa in 1963 to deal with the rebels. Kahar was finally killed in 1965.
Only after peace was restored the development could start. Sulawesi had a hard start because it had to restore and renew all kinds of things, like communication and infrastructure. The country had to be opened up for tourists and investments. The government of Suharto which was aimed at development and started in 1966, coinsided with the first period of peace in Sulawesi since 1941.