MDF English Corner (27/12/2022) - Who was Cut Nyak Dien?


Welcome to another edition of English Corner, my name is Rifki Kusmana. This is an article about Cut Nyak Dien, an Indonesian heroine from Aceh.

An Indonesian version of this article is available here.

Indonesia has a heroine who comes from Aceh. The heroine is Cut Nyak Dien. Cut Nyak Dien was a great Indonesian female figure who never gave up in fighting against the colonizers. Cut Nyak Dien was later dubbed as the “Queen of Aceh” because of her strong determination in fighting the Dutch colonialists in Aceh, Indonesia. Throughout her lifetime, Cut Nyak Dien continued to fight and resist with the aim of achieving the nation’s ideals, namely freedom from colonial rule.

Cut Nyak Dien was born into a noble and religious family. She was married to Teuku Ibrahim Lamnga. History records Cut Nyak Dien’s husband as a freedom fighter. Teuku Ibrahim often left his wife and baby to fight the Dutch. However, fate had to separate Cut Nyak Dien and her husband. On June 29, 1878, Teuku Ibrahim died while fighting against the invaders. Cut Nyak Dien was furious over this incident. This became the turning point for Cut Nyak Dien to join the war against the Dutch. She vowed to destroy the Dutch, continuing her husband’s struggle.

In 1874-1880, under the leadership of General Jan van Swieten, the VI Mukim region was successfully occupied by the Dutch as well as the Sultan Palace which finally had to recognize the great power of the Dutch colonial. The incident forced Cut Nyak Dien and her baby to flee with other residents and groups on December 24, 1875. However, Teuku Ibrahim remained determined to reclaim the VI Mukim area.

Unfortunately, when Teuku Ibrahim fought in Gle Tarum, he was killed on June 29, 1878. This eventually made Cut Nyak Dien very angry and vowed to destroy the Dutch. After Teuku Ibrahim’s death, Cut Nyak Dien remarried Teuku Umar, an Acehnese warrior figure. Not only did they tie the knot, but both of them united to fight the invaders.

He turned to fight against the Dutch. Umar died in battle at Meulaboh on February 11, 1899. Cut Nyak Dien continued the struggle in the Meulaboh hinterland and refused to reconcile with the Dutch. The Dutch tried to capture Cut Nyak Dien, but were unsuccessful. Over time, the number of troops also decreased. Cut Nyak Dien’s eyesight became increasingly myopic and gout began to strike.

Her men felt sorry for Cut Nyak Dien. Finally, Pang Laot, a warlord and confidant of Cut Nyak Dien, contacted the Dutch. Afterwards, Dutch troops came to arrest her. When she was about to be arrested, Cut Nyak Dien pulled out a rencong and tried to resist. However, a Dutch soldier grabbed her hand and took her captive and brought her to Banda Aceh.

Cut Nyak Dien was banished to Sumedang, West Java. She was exiled with a warlord and a 15-year-old boy named Teuku Nana. She died on November 6, 1908, and was buried in Sumedang. In Jakarta, Cut Nyak Dien’s name is immortalized as the name of a street located in the Menteng area.

Cut Nyak Dien’s grave was discovered in 1959 at the request of the then Governor of Aceh, Ali Hasan. Cut Nyak Dien’s spirit in leading the Acehnese people against the invaders made her remembered as a female war hero who never gave up. On May 2, 1964, President Soekarno through Presidential Decree No. 106/1964 designated Cut Nyak Dien as a national hero. In addition, Cut Nyak Dien’s house in Aceh was also rebuilt by the local government. Until now, Cut Nyak Dien’s name is still remembered. The story of her struggle should be emulated as the spirit of emancipation.

And that’s it for today’s English Corner, I hope you have enjoyed this article and I hope to see you again. Thank you for reading.

Editor: Rifki Kusmana

Editor of the MDF English Corner