2020 Indonesian micronations shock
The Indonesian micronations shock (Indonesian: Geger negara mikro) refers to sudden wide public attention to a series of communities with micronation-like characteristics exposed and made known in early January 2020. The shock began on 10 January 2020, when the existence of Keraton Agung Sejagat (Great Palace of the Universe) went viral to Indonesian public after videos and photos of its grandiose royal parade were circulating on Indonesian social media. Another community, Sunda Empire, was known later to the public on 15 January, after series of videos of its activities (most notably its "military" defiles) were exposed. Several pretenders of former Keratons was also made known to the public, especially those that still claim to be and run as political entities.
Indonesian society's reaction to the communities is mixed, with some of them considering it a laughing stock and circulating memes related to it. Indonesian authority reaction is far more hostile, materialised when they arrested the founders of Keraton Agung Sejagat for suspected fraudulent activities in 14 January 2020, and later the founders of Sunda Empire in 28 January 2020. Indonesian prosecutor later seek 10 years of prison term against both founders of Keraton Agung Sejagat on their trial on May 2020, and the Sunda Empire on their trial on June 2020. Keraton Agung Sejagat founders, Toto and Fanni were sentenced for 4 and 1,5 years in prison respectively on a trial concluded in September 2020; while three Sunda Empire founders were sentenced for 2 years in prison on a separate trial concluded in October 2020.
Micronationalism in general are inherently eccentric, and will always attract interests or responses from members of the public outside the micronational community, unaware on the actual goals or motives espoused by its founder on establishing a micronation. Particularly in Indonesia, once a micronation or a community with such characteristics becomes known to the public, it will always attract responses from society. Those responses are influenced by several factors, mainly by Indonesian national ideology and the inherent character of Indonesian society.
Indonesian national ideology, Pancasila, dictates the "unity of Indonesia" (Indonesian: Persatuan Indonesia) as one of its five main principles. This immediately discourages secessionist movement and any groups perceived to be a threat on the unity of the country, while also firmly erecting the principle of Indonesia as an uncompromising unitary state. Micronations with active political structure may be targeted and misunderstood as a separatist movement, as its structure is perceived as an attempt to rival the legal Indonesian authority.
Unlike in Western countries that embraced individualism, strong communalism is one of the main characteristics of Indonesia society. Strong communalism justifies members of society to intervene if one of its particular members deviate from the commonly accepted norms. In cases of micronations with established traditions or rituals, it may cause discomfort from close neighbours that witnessing the events unaware of its intentions, that resulting in taking stern actions against them or even reporting them to the authorities. Founders of Keraton Agung Sejagat were charged with disorderly conduct, mainly after complaints from its neighbours suspicious of actions of the Keraton.
Previous actions against micronations
Indonesian micronationalists often faced criticism, warnings, and harassment from their Indonesian friends if they allowed their micronations to be publicised. Most of them warned about possible Indonesian authority actions if they continued their micronational activities, and further told them to quit micronationalism. In one instance to prevent the criticism, despite the word "Independence" was written on its founding document made in 2010, Indokistani government later decided to avoid using "independence" (Indonesian: Kemerdekaan) rhetoric on narrating its founding, but to use "establishment" (Indonesian: Pendirian) word instead.
Indonesian authorities actions against micronations had occurred in the past, with the earliest records occurred in the early decade of the 2000s, when the Democratic Republic of Sunda (related to the current Sunda Empire) became media headlines after its two princesses, Lamia Roro Wiranatadikusumah Siliwangi Al Misri and Fathia Reza Wiranatadikusumah Siliwangi Al Misri, were detained by Malaysian border to Brunei after attempted entry without a valid pass.
Fiharaya (now known as Fihanesia) authorities later claimed that they were reprimanded and forced to be disbanded immediately by Indonesian police in December 2010 after being misidentified as a separatist movement, triggering anger and condemnation from micronational community. Despite Fiharaya later allowed to continue its activities, its experience with Indonesian police heavily affected Fiharayan authority paradigm on micronationalism - they officially declared themselves as an "imaginary country" till this day to avoid further repercussions.
During the 2020 AIM General Assembly Special Session took place on 11 July 2020, Falalian delegate revealed that their micronation was being harassed by Indonesian police into dissolving their micronation. The incident occurred during King Muhammad I Shah earlier micronational project in 2013 when an Indonesian police officer confronted him due to his micronational activities and told him to disband his micronation as he was told to "not to mimic what the separatists have done". To avoid further repercussions, he reluctantly disbands his micronation and took a hiatus on the movement, before restoring his courage by founding Falalia in 2017. At the same meeting, Litanian delegate also reported similar harassment that the country had experienced in the past.
Keraton Agung Sejagat
Keraton Agung Sejagat (Great Palace of the Universe) - Keraton refers to the royal palace in Javanese - was a community founded by Toto Santoso (Toto Santoso Hadiningrat) and Fanni Aminadia (Dyah Gitarja) in 2018 as a monarchy with at least 450 followers. The Keraton follows the Majapahit Empire systems and traditions, as they claimed that their country was established merely to fulfill a prophecy made during the collapse of Majapahit in the mid-16th century. The Keraton claimed to control The Pentagon, the United Nations, and several other international organisations.
On 12 January 2020, the Keraton held a royal parade outside the Keraton compound and attracting public attention that recorded the parade and circulate it to their social media. The records went viral and attracting further reactions from the wider Indonesian audience, and media frenzy soon followed, with national televisions and reporters flocked the Keraton.
Despite public acceptance of the parade, some other groups suspicious of the Keraton later reported it to the Indonesian police. They previously complained that the group held a cringe rituals that deviate from local norms. After a police visit on 13 January to inquire about the movement, Toto and Fanni were later detained by the police in 14 January, with its criminal indictment was fixed on 15 January. Both of them were charged with fraud and disorder actions against the community. The Keraton collapsed on the following day, with Indonesian authority consoled former members of the Keraton and requesting them to go home.
Pictures circulating on social media after the arrests showed the royal court were intricately decorated, so does the military attire of the King and his followers. Indonesian media reported that one uniform costs about Rp900.000 (US$60), equal to two weeks salary of regular Indonesian workers It was also reported that there was a sacred pool, an ancient inscription, and a building under construction inside the Keraton compound.
Sunda Empire - Earth Empire was established in 2017 and was based on romanticism to the ancient Sundanese Tarumanegara kingdom that existed in the 5th century. The Empire went viral after series of videos showing activities of the Empire (most notably its military defiles) were circulated to the public. The videos showed the founder of the Empire with hundreds of his followers in military attire.
Sunda Empire was led by three individuals: Nasri Banks as Prime Minister, Ratna Ningrum as Dowager, and Rangga Sasana as the Secretary General. They claimed to rule the entire world and further claimed that the United Nations was founded in Bandung, the centre of the Sunda Empire. They also claimed that they have US$500 million in several banks in Switzerland.
Circulating ancestry tree of the founders of the Sunda Empire somehow connects the Empire with the Democratic Republic of Sunda, which in the 2000s decade attracted media interests as two of its princesses were arrested by Malaysian police in Brunei border.
Exaggerated claims made by the Empire attracted media frenzy, with Indonesian media and televisions, in turn broadcasted interviews with Sunda Empire founders. Rangga was particularly notable since he was seen as the most enthusiastic member of the Empire, participating in one television talkshow and were confronted against Indonesian politicians and historians on the accuracy of various claims made by the Empire.
After becoming the target of media frenzy, Sunda Empire was forcibly disbanded after the founders were arrested by Indonesian authorities on 28 January 2020. All of them were charged with spreading hoaxes and false information, and also inciting disorder.
Pretenders of former Keratons
Historically, Indonesia had an enormous number of sovereign Keratons and Sultanates that ruled in small regions. Most of them were wiped out, or were lost independence and made Dutch dependencies in the 19th and early 20th century. The Keratons and Sultanates further wiped out by the Republicans during the fervour of Indonesian independence after 1945, leaving only small numbers that survived until today. The remnants of the surviving Keratons and Sultanates are able to continue their rituals and traditions on a smaller scale, despite no longer hold political power over its subjects. In several exceptional case, some Keratons still hold a significant influence in regional politics, with Yogyakarta as the most famous example of surviving Keraton with its political power protected by Indonesian law
One of the most notable pretenders is the Selacau Sultanate (Indonesian: Kesultanan Selacau) that claimed themselves to be descendants of the Sundanese Pajajaran Kingdom existed in the 16th century. The sultanate is led by Rohidin as Raden Patrakusumah VIII and a council of ministers that includes a treasurer and state secretary. The sultanate claimed to have their cultural artefacts recognised by UNESCO and had a fund stored in a Switzerland bank.
Selacau Sultanate survived Indonesian authority persecution by claiming themselves as merely a cultural community that preserves cultural artifacts and traditions. The sultanate also claimed to be a legal movement, as their registration request was accepted by Indonesian authority, and was recognised as a cultural community in 2018. Selacau Sultanate later held a ceremony to celebrate their "exposure" to the Indonesian public, as Rohidin felt pleased that his Sultanate is finally known nationwide, and also calls for preservation of cultural aspects, especially those of Selacau
Faux-micronations and aspirant state
Several other communities and establishments had also received public attention as the aftermath of the Keraton Agung Sejagat and the Sunda Empire phenomenon. Those communities were made known especially because of their elaborate "royal" decorations or usage of the "Kingdom" name, yet in reality have no further structure as a proper micronation, nor any aspiration to establish any political system on their communities.
Kandang Wesi "Kingdom" was founded in 2015 by Nurseno Utomo, and attracted public interest after royal decorations were founded in his personal compound and his "royal titles" was made known in public in January 2020 . A clarification later showed that the "Kingdom" itself was actually a traditional martial arts school, and his "royal titles" were in reality bestowed as an honour from the actual Indonesian Nusantara Kings and Sultans Forum in 1998.
A former MP candidate was arrested on 31 January 2020 and accused of sedition after his video proposing the disbandment of Indonesia went viral. In the video recorded in 2015, he claimed that the "Nusantara People's State" must be founded to replace the ailing Unitary Republic of Indonesia.
A "Soto Kingdom" was founded in 2 February 2020. The declaration was made by Ubaidillah that claimed himself as the "Regent of Soto" in lavish royal costume, accompanied by his relatives. It was a promotional stunt for Soto, an Indonesian traditional soup dish . A similar event also attracting media interest in mid-January 2020, when a declaration of the establishment of a "Kingdom" turned out to be a promotional stunt for a traditional food stall.
Those peculiar movements have receives mixed reactions. The scale of response expressed by the Indonesian public is unexpectedly high, with news and reports about the movement widely circulated and reposted by social media users, and memes related to the Keraton went viral.
An expert in sociology has correctly referred the communities as "micronations" in an interview with Indonesian media, explaining that those communities may have ideas on an utopic society and attempted to fulfil the ideas. Despite that, he also declares that the communities may also be regarded as fraudulent if they requested a sum of fees demanded to its members, and its members may be illiterate and failed to understand reality.
An Indonesian citizen remarks about the benefits of micronationalism - despite on Indonesian authority hostile reactions against the Keraton and the Sunda Empire - had received public applause. He wrote that micronations in fundamental are able to serve as a useful educational tool for high school students, especially because "micronations" are able to comprehensively integrate multiple studies in one class.
A pretender of the former Sultanate also argued that Indonesian authority should enact a law to protect the honour and heritage of Indonesian existing Keratons and Sultanates as a cultural institution. He also said that the law should protect the sanctity of Indonesian Keratons and Sultanates from illegitimate and fabricated pretenders, such as those of Keraton Agung Sejagat and the Sunda Empire.
Responding on the ongoing trial against Sunda Empire founders in June 2020, an Indonesian citizen criticise the prosecutor of seeking 10 years of prison sentence against the Sunda Empire founders. The citizen said that the prosecution is too heavy and the prosecutor should be more lenient, as the Sunda Empire is not an actual threat to Indonesia
Former West Java police chief claimed that such movements were somehow "designed" by groups that desired to disintegrate Indonesia and plead the authority to continue criminal investigations against the movements. Furthermore, West Java Governor, Ridwan Kamil commented that the groups were established by "crazy people".
Central Java Governor, Ganjar Pranowo had seen tourism potential in the former Keraton Agung Sejagat compound, promising that the compound would be converted to be a tourist attraction, with buildings inside the compound to be renamed as former Javanese kingdoms, and its visitors are able to take photos in a photo booth with royal costume. He also plead to the citizens to react accordingly in viewing these issues, while also acknowledged that the founders of the Keraton may be involved in fraudulent actions.
Arrest and trial of community founders
Indonesian authority took stern actions against those movements. After Indonesian police visited the Keraton compound on 13 January, they immediately arrested the founders of the Keraton and charged them for fraud and disorder actions. Furthermore, Indonesian police also requested support from the intelligence agencies to investigate the Sunda Empire while also announced the possibility of criminal prosecution against the founders of the Sunda Empire. Founders of the Sunda Empire were arrested as well on 28 January with similar charges as the Keraton weeks before.
Trial on the Keraton Agung Sejagat case was commenced on 5 May 2020, with Indonesian prosecutor seek 10 years of prison term against founders of the Keraton. On another trial against Sunda Empire founders held on 18 June 2020, Indonesian prosecutor similarly also seeks 10 years of prison term against 3 Sunda Empire founders on a charge of disturbing Sundanese community and spreading hoaxes.
Keraton Agung Sejagat founders, Toto and Fanni were sentenced for 4 and 1,5 years in prison respectively on a trial concluded in September 2020; while three Sunda Empire founders were sentenced for 2 years in prison on a separate trial concluded in October 2020
As of 2021, founders of both Keraton Agung Sejagat and Sunda Empire has been released from prison. Toto and Fanni of Keraton Agung Sejagat was released from Bandung prison on 15 March 2021. Their release was due to legal requirements for prisoner to be released pending their appeal effort to the Supreme Court instead on the basis that they already completing their sentence in full. Sunda Empire founders, among them Raden Rangga and Nasri Banks was released from prison as well in the end of April 2021 after serving half of their sentence period, and allowed to continue serving their sentence from their respective homes - effectively putting them under house arrest on assimilation programme.
Indonesian micronational community
Members of the Association of Indonesian Micronations (AIM) acknowledged that Keraton Agung Sejagat and Sunda Empire community did had characteristics of a micronation, despite had neither interactions nor mutual recognition with both movements. AIM members also see a potential for "going public" and introduced themselves to the wider Indonesian society.
A proposal to legalise the statutes of AIM in Indonesia by registering to the authority was also once proposed by the AIM General Assembly. The proposal received mixed reactions. Supporters believe that by registering the organisation, allows AIM member states to affirm and acknowledge their loyalty to Indonesia, and may secure them from persecution. The opponents worried that the plan may backfire and have AIM members arrested if the Indonesian authority misjudges the movement as separatists, especially after precedents made by the Keraton and Sunda Empire.
- Masuk Meja Hijau, Raja-Ratu Keraton Agung Sejagat Jalani Sidang Online ("Keraton Agung Sejagat Founders Began Online Court Hearing", in Indonesian). Detik.com. 5 May 2020.
- 3 Petinggi Sunda Empire Didakwa Sebar Hoaks, Terancam 10 Tahun Penjara ("Leaders of Sunda Empire Accused of Spreading Hoax, May be Imprisoned for 10 Years", in Indonesian). Kumparan. 18 June 2020.
- Ika Fitriana (16 September 2020). Khairina, ed. "Raja dan Ratu Keraton Agung Sejagat Menangis Divonis 4 dan 1,5 Tahun" (in Bahasa Indonesia). Kompas.com.
- Bayu S., ed. (27 October 2020). "Tiga Petinggi Sunda Empire Divonis 2 Tahun Penjara" (in Bahasa Indonesia). Tirto.id.
- Kukuh Adi (31 May 2013). "Makna Sila Persatuan Indonesia" (in Bahasa Indonesia). Kompasiana.
- Gunawan (8 July 2020). "Memahami Alam Berpikir Konservatif..." Twitter.
- "Jaksa Jelaskan Alasan Sunda Empire Dibentuk: Anak Petinggi Dipenjara di Malaysia". Kumparan. 18 June 2020.
- A. Cassina (13 December 2010). "We Are Not a Separatist". LBPNN.
- First Secretary Reassures Lichthalzen Citizens, A1NS, 13 December 2010.
- "AIM General Assembly Special Session Celebrates AIM 9th Anniversary". AIMNN. 12 July 2020.
- Khairina (ed.). Dijahit di Bantul, Seragam Keraton Agung Sejagat Harganya Rp 900 Ribu Per Setel ("Made in Bantul, Keraton's Uniform Each Costs Rp900.000"', in Indonesian). Kompas.com. 29 January 2020.
- Widia Lestari. Petinggi Sunda Empire Jadi Sorotan di ILC, Ngegas Tak Sudi Disamakan dengan Keraton Agung Sejagat ("Sunda Empire Politician Angry His Country Likened with the Keraton], in Indonesian). Tribunjabar.id. 22 January 2020.
- Usai Keraton Sejagat, Kini Kekaisaran Sunda Empire Runtuh ("Sunda Empire follows the collapse of the Keraton Agung Sejagat", in Indonesian). Detikcom. 29 January 2020
- Revolusi Sosial di Sumatra Timur ("East Sumatra Social Revolution", in Indonesian). Komunitasbambu.id. 10 May 2019.
- Nivell Rayda. Last monarchy in Indonesia: Rifts over a possible female sultan. Channelnewsasia.com. 26 October 2019.
- Seluk Beluk Kesultanan Selacau, Awal Mula Berdiri hingga Terdaftar di Pemkab (History of Selacau Sultanate, from its Establishment to its Recognition", in Indonesian). Liputan6.com. 24 January 2020.
- Jani Noor. Menelisik Kesultanan Selacau Tasikmalaya yang Diklaim Diakui Unesco ("Investigate Tasikmalayan Selacau Sultanate that Claimed to be Recognised by UNESCO", in Indonesian). jabar.sindonews.com 25 January 2020.
- Irwan Nugraha. Viral dan Dikenal Publik, Kesultanan Selaco Gelar Syukuran Khusus (Selaco Sultanate Held a Ceremony to Celebrate their Exposure, in Indonesian). regional.kompas.com. 25 January 2020.
- Kini Viral Kerajaan Kandang Wesi di Garut ("Kandang Wesi Kingdom in Garut Went Viral", in Indonesian) 24 January 2020, Kompas.com
- Diduga Makar, Pendiri Negara Rakyat Nusantara Ditangkap ("Founder of the Nusantara People's State Arrested for Sedition", in Indonesian), sindonews.com, 31 January 2020.
- Deklarasi Kerajaan Kesotoan Nusantara ("Declaration of Soto Kingdom", in Indonesian), Tribunnews.com. 03 February 2020.
- Heboh Kemunculan Keraton Agung Sejagat di Purworejo, ini Kata Sosiolog ("Shock as Keraton Agung Sejagat emergence in Purworejo, this is what a sociologist commented"', in Indonesian), 16 January 2020.
- Twitter (in Indonesian), 20 January 2020.
- Pangeran Edwardsyah Pernong. Menata Kembali Kerajaan Adat Nusantara("To Reorganise Nusantara Indigenous Kingdoms", in Indonesian). Detikcom. 23 January 2020.
- Twitter (in Indonesian), 19 June 2020.
- Ganjar Pranowo Imbau Masyarakat Tak Perlu Cemas, Ia akan Jadikan Keraton Agung Sejagat Tempat Wisata ("Ganjar Pranowo plead citizens not to overreact, he will convert the Keraton as a tourist attraction", in Indonesian), tribunnews.com, 20 January 2020
- Rinto Heksantoro. Raja-Ratu Keraton Agung Sejagat Telah Bebas, Keratonnya Kini Jadi Ladang ("Keraton Agung Sejagat Royals has been Freed, Former Keraton Grounds is Now Rice Fields", in Indonesian). Detik.com. 23 March 2021.
- Sumarnni Utamining. Tunggu Kasasi, Raja dan Ratu Keraton Agung Sejagat Bebas ("Keraton Agung Sejagat Royals Freed Pending Cassation", in Indonesian). Gatra.com. 7 April 2021.
- Dony Indra Ramadhan. Ini Alasan Petinggi Sunda Empire Dapat Asimilasi Rumah ("This is the Reason Sunda Empire Founders Allowed Home Assimilation", in Indonesian). Detik.com. 28 April 2021.