Red Cross Day in Indonesia Date in the current year: September 17, 2024

Red Cross Day in Indonesia Red Cross Day (Hari Palang Merah) in Indonesia is observed annually on September 17. It commemorates the formation of the Executive Board of the Indonesian Red Cross Society on this day in 1945.

The history of the Red Cross Movement began in 1859, when Swiss businessman Henry Dunant traveled to Italy and witnessed the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino. Horrified by the suffering of thousands of wounded soldiers left on the battlefield, he spent the next few days caring for the wounded.

Upon his return to Switzerland, he published a book about what he had witnessed in Solferino and started advocating for the formation of volunteer relief organizations to help nurse wounded soldiers. In 1863, he founded the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded, subsequently renamed the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A year later, representatives of 12 countries signed the first Geneva Convention that established international legal standards for humanitarian aid in times of war. In the following years, national Red Cross societies were founded in most European countries.

The first Red Cross Society in Indonesia was established by the Dutch colonial authorities on October 12, 1873. It was a division of the Dutch Red Cross in the Dutch East Indies (Nederlandsche Roode Kruis Afdeeling Indië). The society was disbanded during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia.

Indonesian activists continuously tried to create a national Red Cross Society throughout the 1930s, but faced various obstacles. The establishment of the Indonesian Red Cross Society became possible due to the proclamation of the independence of Indonesia on August 17, 1945 and the ensuing war with Great Britain and the Netherlands.

On September 3, 1945, many Indonesian soldiers were wounded in a battle with European troops. After the battle, President Sukarno ordered to establish the Red Cross Society in order to provide timely medical assistance to wounded soldiers and civilians.

The Indonesian Red Cross Society (Palang Merah Indonesia) was officially created on September 17, 1945, exactly one month after the proclamation of Indonesia’s independence. The first chairman of its Executive Board was Mohammad Hatta, the then Vice President of Indonesia. In 1950, the IRCS became a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Interestingly, Indonesia is one of the few Muslim-majority states that use the Red Cross rather than the Red Crescent as their symbol. According to the chairman of the IRCS, this is due to the fact that both the emblem and the organization are secular.

The Indonesian Red Cross Society is a national humanitarian organization that does not take sides with any particular religious, political or ethnic groups and helps everyone who needs it. The organization coordinates blood donations, provides disaster relief assistance, and implements various public health and social programs. The anniversary of its establishment is celebrated annually as Red Cross Day.

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