Australia’s prominent role in assisting Indonesia to achieve independence was the theme of a public discussion last night at Jakarta’s Komunitas Salihara arts centre titled “New Narratives Forgotten Histories.”
The discussion, supported by the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, focused on the key role played by Australian woman Molly Bondan in the independence movement and early years of the Republic of Indonesia.
Molly Bondan (nee Warner) was an active member of the Australia-Indonesia Association, which, from 1945, played a key role in gathering support for Indonesian independence in Australia. Through this movement, Molly met and married Indonesian independence activist Mohamad Bondan in Australia in 1946.
Mohamad Bondan had been arrested by the Dutch colonial authorities for his political activities, exiled to Digul in Papua and later brought to Australia, where he was subsequently released.
“Today’s generations, certainly in Australia, don’t know how important Australia’s energetic support for Indonesian independence was,” Australian Ambassador for Indonesia, Gary Quinlan, said. “We lobbied for Indonesia in the newly-created UN Security Council and were chosen by Indonesia as its representative in the UN discussions which led to independence. Molly and Mohamad Bondan were remarkable people at a remarkable time in the history of two such close neighbours, as Indonesia and Australia are. They represent the very best of our shared history.”
Australian writer Annee Lawrence, who has been undertaking a residency at Jakarta’s Komunitas Salihara arts centre under the Australian Asialink Tulis Writing Exchange Program, was one of the speakers on the panel. The focus of her research has been Molly Bondan’s connection to the Indonesian independence movement.
The discussion was opened with a screening of the documentary Indonesia Calling. Produced by Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens in 1946, it tells the story of the blockade of Dutch ships led by Australian workers in support of Indonesia’s struggle for independence.
Australia was one of the first countries to recognise Indonesia’s independence, due to high levels of support in the Australian community for the creation of an Indonesian Republic.