39 Critchley to Kirby [1]

Memorandum BATAVIA, 3 February 1948

[matter omitted]

There is little doubt that the Dutch are extremely anxious to continue their policy of breaking the country up into small units which will be dependent on them, and there is already considerable evidence that they will not be too particular about the 'Renville' agreement in carrying the policy into effect. In West Java, for example, they are determined to go ahead with the third conference, which will set up a new negara. [2] Hatta assures me that all sorts of undemocratic procedures are taking place, such as direct military intimidation in the villages, and has promised to supply details. You will remember that the second West Java conference was called by the Recomba -the administrative officer directly responsible to van Mook. Invitations to attend were sent out in the name of representatives of the N.E.I. Government and these representatives were selected by a Contact Committee which had been formed by an earlier conference called by the Recomba in the same way. Since the first conference agreed it was not completely representative of the people, the Contact Committee which chose the second conference was clearly undemocratic.

[matter omitted]

Interim Report:

The first complete draft of the interim Report [3] is even more unsatisfactory than I anticipated in Singapore. It reflects the views of the United States and Belgian delegations, and even where Australia explicitly disagreed this is not always noted in the text. Moore informs me that there is evidence that the other delegations, and particularly the United States delegation, fear a separate report from Australia. This fear could be a powerful pressure, which would be the more effective if a strong statement along the lines outlined to you in Singapore were proposed by you in the first instance on the subject of the Madura report or the Rawahgedeh report and the Sjarifuddin memorandum of December 21st, 1947. [4]

[matter omitted]

New Republican Cabinet:

The new right wing cabinet announced on Saturday consists of 15 ministers, of which 10 belong to political parties. It represents a victory for the Masjoemi, which are strongest with 4 seats, and the PNI 3 seats, over the Socialist Party and other left wing elements. None of the left wing (Sajap Kiri) is included. Hatta offered 3 seats to left wing figures, Sjarifuddin, Abdoelmadjid and Tjokronegoro, but the left wing rejected the offer and protested strongly against key positions being held by the Masjoemi and PNI. Sjarifuddin has also resigned as chairman of the delegation. I understand from Hatta he was personally agreeable to co-operating, but his party forced him to refuse. His place as chairman will be taken by Roem (Masjoemi), who is not nearly as capable. Replacements in the delegation will be made from the advisers.

[matter omitted]


The bag closes in half an hour and I shall include this rough outline of the most recent developments.


Elliott has returned to Batavia to report personally on the implementation of the Truce in Sumatra. His three main points were:

(i) the Truce is working out reasonably satisfactorily;

(ii) Republicans have a hard pill to swallow insofar as the Van Mook line permits the advance of Netherlands troops into rich industrial areas in which they have not been since before the war.

Moreover, the Van Mook line is defined so as to include both banks of a river constituting a demarkation line. Elliott, obtained agreement from the Dutch that the Republic could use the river for communication although the Dutch have insisted on the right of search.

(iii) In general, Elliott's impressions were that the Republic was doing their best to carry out the Truce fully and effectively, but he was not sure but that the Dutch would like it to fail.

The Republic has reported a major incident, and have listed about 300 Indonesian casualties in 30 alleged incidents with the Dutch since the signing of the Truce on Jan 17th. The principal incident took place on Jan 26th at two villages about 20 miles south east of Cheribon. It is alleged that Dutch soldiers machine-gunned and bayoneted 285 people, mortared the villages and burned about 138 houses.

The Truce committee has referred the reported incidents to the other party for comment. In committee, we shall endeavour to have the more important Republican reports investigated so that they can be given a full airing. This means of course that we would also investigate a corresponding number of Dutch claims. At present this policy is handicapped by a lack of Military Assistants.

There has been a last minute hitch over the employment of additional Military Assistants. When the committee decided nearly a fortnight ago that about 60 were required, this information was discussed informally with Van Vredenburch and General Spoor. Full details were given without any objections being raised. It was only a couple of days ago, however, that the Consular Commission advised the committee that additional Military Assistants would be made available and we then informed the Netherlands formally and in writing of our proposals.

Immediately afterwards we received word of the impending departure of 14 Military Assistants from Canberra but the Dutch have asked us to delay their departure. Although the Consulate and the Committee have written strong letters the last two days have been unavailing in obtaining a decision from the Netherlands that the Australian Military Assistants can be used. This is a clear example of [Dutch obstruction]. [5]

1 Kirby arrived in Singapore on 27 January and was joined the next day by Critchley who wrote him a memorandum (not located) on the situation in the NEI. Kirby left Singapore by air on 29 January for Batavia and from there, with Graham, for Amsterdam. There Kirby and Graham Joined Van Zeeland and held discussions on 31 January with members of the Netherlands Government. All three Committee members flew from Amsterdam to New York on 31 January arriving the following day. Critchley's memorandum was dispatched on 5 February by air mail via Singapore to Kirby in New York.

2 Following their military occupation of most of West Java, the Netherlands attempted to set up a Sundanese regime there amenable to Netherlands control. The Dutch Recomba convened the First West Java Conference between 12 and 19 October 1947 and the Second West Java Conference between 15 and 20 December 1947 (see Volume XI, Documents 477, 479 and 484).

3 i.e. the draft of the Interim Report of the Committee of Good offices to the Security Council.

4 At the request of the Republican Government, an observation team of the Committee of Good Offices investigated the situation in Madura as a result of the Dutch military operation in East Madura after 9 November 1947. The Australian observers reported on 8 January that the Dutch military action in Madura was inconsistent with the Security Council's resolution of 1 August 1947. Another observation team investigated an incident on 9 December 1947 in Rawahgedeh in West Java. On 12 January the observation team found, inter alia, that the Netherlands Army had acted ruthlessly and deliberately in killing 150 Indonesians in this village which was probably the headquarters of anti-Dutch resistance in the Krawang area. The Sjarifuddin memorandum S/AC.10/73 of 21 December 1947 requested the Committee of Good Offices to investigate the Dutch attempt to separate West Java from the Republic, Dutch preliminary work for the establishment of an Indonesian federation and a radio address by Beel on 19 December implying that the Republic had declined to participate in an Indonesian federation.

5 The words in square brackets were added in what appears to be Critchley's handwriting.

[AA:A1838, 403/3/1/1, xv]