304 Department of External Affairs to Evatt

CANBERRA, 12 June 146, 8.30 a.m.

Cablegram A39


Batavia. Reference our telegram A36. [1]

1. Brookes has arrived in Canberra where he will stay few days before going on recuperative leave. He brought with him personal letter from Sjahrir and Sjahrir's draft counter proposals which have been repeated to you in our telegrams Nos. A37 and A38.

2. Sjahrir's letter read in light of Kirby's comments in paragraph one of his telegram 114 make it appear that Indonesian Government is making informal sounding as to readiness of Australian Government, if negotiations between Dutch and Indonesians fail, to take initiative in raising Indonesian question in Security Council. In considering what action should be taken in this connection it is pointed out that conversations with Brookes make it clear that United Kingdom Government, through MacKereth, is already aware of substance of Sjahrir's letter and that leakages in Batavia have resulted in Dutch becoming aware of suspicions that they (Dutch) may possibly be implicated in some way in murder of the three Australians. It is suggested that following action be taken re Sjahrir's letter.

(a) That Brookes be authorized request Kirby give to Sjahrir verbal personal message stating that Brookes has discussed informally in Canberra matter raised by Sjahrir. Brookes has found in Canberra much sympathy for aspirations of Indonesians towards self-government and strong hopes that peaceful settlement between Dutch and Indonesians can be brought about at earliest possible moment. It is not felt that present time is appropriate for approach by Australia to Security Council both because difficult unsolved problems are already before Council and also because negotiations between Dutch and Indonesians are still in train.

Australia, however, is deeply interested in progress of these negotiations and will do everything possible to help to bring them to successful conclusion.

(b) That United Kingdom Government be informed officially of Sjahrir's letter and of substance of Brookes' reply. In addition United Kingdom Government might be urged to take every opportunity of making it clear to Dutch that they should do their utmost to reach agreed solution with Indonesians at same time they might point out lamentable consequences which may arise if negotiations fail, and refer to probability that matter will by one means or another be brought before Security Council should negotiations break down.

3. As regards murders of the three Australians [2], it is suggested that trial by Military Court is only satisfactory solution. If Kirby assents to trial by Indonesian Court this may amount to tacit recognition of Sjahrir Government. On other hand trial by Dutch Court would be most unsatisfactory in view of doubts which have been raised as to Dutch complicity. Moreover it is assumed that Sjahrir is most unlikely to hand over accused for trial by Dutch.

4. In view of contents of Kirby's 117 [3] it may be difficult to secure trial by Military Court. It is suggested however, that telegram might be sent to United Kingdom Government asking that effort be made to secure Dutch assent to this course. it could be pointed out to Dutch that alternative to trial by Military Court is likely to be trial by Indonesian Court with or without Australian assent and it could be argued that Dutch interests would be better served by their agreeing to trial by Military Court. Precedent of trial by Military Courts in Sourabaya could be invoked.

5. As regards Kirby's suggestion that he should return quickly to Australia to give full background information we have informed him that we are in touch with you and would prefer him to remain in Batavia pending receipt your views. In meantime, we have arranged for Detective MacDermott to leave for Batavia on 16 June and hope to arrange for typist and assistant, for whom Kirby also asked, to leave Australia shortly. After discussions in Sydney, Burton advises that he has arranged for Brennan [4] to act as Kirby's assistant. This still leaves open, however, question of permanent representation in Batavia regarding which separate cable will be sent.

1 Dispatched 12 June to Evatt, it reported that subsequent cablegrams would contain Sjahfir's letter to Brookes (Document 291), the draft of Sjahrir's counter proposals (see Document 297, note 3), and Kirby's cablegrams 114 (Document 299), 116 and 117 of 11 June.

2 See Document 242.

3 In cablegram 117 of 11 June, Kirby reported that, while a special agreement between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands gave the Supreme Commander of SEAC power to set up military courts in Sourabaya, there was no such agreement in respect to Java. 4 J.

M. Brennan.