Marthen Indey is an Indonesian National Hero from Papua. Marthen Indey was once assigned to Tanah Merah (Digul) to prepare for a rebellion against the Dutch in West Irian at the end of December 1945. Then, in October 1946, he became a member of the Indonesian Committee.

Early Years

Quoting, Marthen Indey was born in Doromena, Papua, on March 16, 1912. His birth name was Soroway Indey before he was finally baptized using the name Marthen. His father was a traditional village leader or Ondoafi. Early in his life, Indey was greatly influenced by an Ambonese missionary sent by the Dutch to spread Christianity in New Guinea. This was Johannes Bremer.

Indey, along with several of his siblings, spent part of their childhood with the Bremer family in Ambon. While in elementary school, Indey improved his mastery of the Malay language. At that time, Malay was not the common language spoken in much of the eastern Indies. In 1926, Indey successfully completed his schooling. Then he continued at the “Kweek School voor Indische Schepelingen Navy School” in Makassar.

He graduated from the school in 1932. After serving his first voyage, Indey decided to leave his naval career. He became a police officer. In 1934, he also enrolled at the police academy in Sukabumi, West Java. He completed his training until 1935.


In late 1935, he was sent to become a member of the Ambon police detachment in New Guinea. While there, he was involved in various Dutch campaigns to break the resistance of local Papuan tribes. Then, during 1940 to 1941, Indey worked in the clandestine colonial police to track the movements of Japanese agents in Manokwari. It is believed that these Japanese agents were scouting the area for invasion under the guise of fishermen and plantation workers. By 1941, as a trusted member of the colonial police, Indey was freer to interact with political prisoners than most non-Europeans.

In fact, Indey became friends with some of these prisoners, such as Sukarjo, Sugoro Atmoprasodjo, and Hamid Siregar. In July 1943, Indey, along with 32 civil servants, sailed from Tanah Merah Bay to Brisbane. While there, he and the other members were trained in paratrooper tactics. He was also recruited into the Allied forces to launch attacks in the South Pacific and the Philippines.

In April 1944, when Japan lost, NICA, the civil administration of the Dutch East Indies, intended to reestablish Dutch control over the colony. Indey and his troops also planned to attack the Dutch in New Guinea on December 25, 1945. Unfortunately, their plan was discovered by the Dutch. Indey, Sugoro, Silas Papare, and Luksa Rumkorem were arrested and imprisoned. After his release, in January 1947, Indey traveled to Ambon to join the fight against the Dutch there.

In March 1947, he was again arrested by the Dutch and imprisoned for 4.5 years. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Indey lived in Jayapura. Then in 1962, he was involved in the high profile infiltration of Indonesian commandos from the RPKAD or Army Para Commando Regiment which landed in New Guinea. He was also sent to New York to participate in the negotiations that resulted in the New York Agreement, in which Irian Jaya joined Indonesia.

Marthen Indey died on July 17, 1986 in Jayapura. Thanks to his services, he was awarded the title of National Hero on September 14, 1993. His name was also used as the name of an army hospital in Jayapura.

Gunawan, Restu, Leirissa, R.Z, et al. (1997). Biography of National Heroes: Martin Indey and Silas Papare. Jakarta: Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia Jakarta.


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