175 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Letter BATAVIA, 1 February 1949


Herewith this week's news.

Security Council Resolution [1]

As a Commission, we have so far not made progress; a decision from The Hague as to the Dutch attitude to the Resolution is still impatiently awaited. I shall be surprised if the answer is not vague and evasive. In practice the Netherlands will accept, at least in the first instance, only that part of the Resolution which fits in with their policy and programme. This programme, unless a special deal is negotiated with the Federalists, will not include the release of Republican prisoners and, in particular, will not provide for their establishment as a Government at Djokjakarta. The first main function of the Commission may therefore be to clarify the official Netherlands response, and to make sure that the facts of Netherlands non-compliance with the Resolution are clearly reported to the Security Council.

2. If we get past the first difficult stages of securing the release of the Republican leaders and their re-establishment as a Government, there will still be the problem of stopping the fighting and in this we are likely to strike bother with both sides. As indicated in my previous letter, one of the main difficulties will be the Republican Army. The armed forces are the Republic's main safeguard, perhaps its only safeguard, for the eventual transfer of sovereignty. The Republicans can, therefore, hardly agree to any solution involving the dissolution of the T.N.I., the greater portion of which is intact, before a Federal army is established under the control of a representative Federal Interim Government. The Netherlands will doubtless strongly oppose any regrouping of Republican forces and will seek to interpret the Resolution so as to eliminate the guerilla bands. Planning a new truce will certainly be tough.

Military Situation 3. There is still military confusion. Republicans are convinced that the Dutch have failed in their military action and that they will lose a war of attrition. Certainly some of the Dutch are beginning to appreciate their colossal under-estimation of the difficulties created by military action.

4. Leimena informed me yesterday that he had been speaking with a Republican civilian who had travelled from Central Java to West Java with a group of Siliwangi troops 1500 strong. This group took with them a number of families, making a total party of 2000. The journey took 36 days and only six T.N.I. soldiers were lost on the way. Republican sources confirm that their troops have now taken up their old positions in the West Java pockets and have been welcomed by the local populations.

5. Quentin Pope, of the Chicago Tribune, has just returned to Batavia after three days in East Java. The main points of his reports are:-

'(a) Before the end of December sizeable Republican forces were eluding Dutch columns and marching into East Java along coastal routes.

(b) These forces have commenced attacks on British- and Dutch- owned estates which are being raided at the rate of one every two days.

(c) As a result a number of Dutch civilians have been killed, women and children have been evacuated to Sourabaya, and several estates have been closed while others are remaining open only so long as the Dutch army can provide defence.

(d) There are reports that stronger Republican forces are at present moving along southern coastal routes towards Banjoewangi.

According to some estimates these new infiltrators will bring the total of Republican troops raiding East Java to some thousands.

(e) Reports from planters underline the fact that the whole area was peaceful before the military action of December 19 and that present guerilla activities are being conducted on strictly disciplined lines. (Raiders are careful not to antagonize local population and are paying for supplies, etc.) (f) Guerilla targets include processing plants, stockpiles and communications, to which considerable damage is being done.

(g) Roads in East Java are still unsafe and can only be used by heavily protected convoys, and then irregularly.

(h) Dutch Field Commanders described Netherlands plans as based on "herding Republicans into rough mountain areas away from food and munitions, and awaiting for weather and disease to do their work".

Pope believes that this policy is enforced by the present Dutch troop shortage and that it can only succeed if the present Republican counter invasion of East Java is frustrated.

(i) Republican scorched earth policy has blasted virtually everything of value in large areas of East Java.

(j) The Dutch claim that some operations are being carried out by Republican forces which did not withdraw to Republican territory after the Renville Agreement but, according to Pope, "all evidence is of growing infiltration by Republicans and cohesive attacks at both ends of Java".'

Other information from non-Dutch sources confirms Pope's opinions.

Press Attacks 6. Dutch stubbornness and inability to keep up with political trends both internal and external have so far proved extraordinary. Granting that Dutch natural characteristics are not conducive to an easy solution to the Indonesian problem, there are three special obstacles to a progressive Dutch policy- (a) the influence of the Army and especially of General Spoor in Indonesia, (b) the personality of the High Representative of the Crown, Dr.

Beel, who is unacceptable to the Indonesians, (c) the confusion of the local Dutch as a consequence of an irresponsible and unreliable press.

7. The third of these points is worthy of some elaboration. As I have pointed out in earlier letters the Committee has always had an unfavourable press in Batavia (and, I understand, in Holland), but since the military action, the campaign to belittle the Committee of Good Offices and its work has been intensified.

8. The Batavia daily, 'Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad' is supposed to reflect the Army point of view. Many of its attacks on the Committee would justify legal proceedings in most countries. An example of a critical article on the Good Offices Committee is attachment 1. [2] Although this article reflects the stupidity of the editorial comment in the local press, it does not properly reflect the viciousness which has marked so many articles. This is brought out more clearly in attachment 2 [3], a personal attack on Graham, a year after he has left Indonesia.

9. No better indication of the effectiveness of the Committee's reporting could be found than the bitter comment of the local press. For example, after the first flush of embarrassment which followed the Committee's Bangka report [4], the Dutch accused the Committee of bias. Attachment 3 [5] is an editorial from 'Nieuwsblad'. As the Committee had, in fact, been scrupulously careful to avoid emotional issues in its report, the criticism was readily answered, but without publicity.

10. Then again, an article in the 'Nieuwe Rotterdamse Courant' (first published in Holland but reproduced widely in Batavia) claimed that the Good Offices Committee's report [6] of the 14th January had been criticised by a Senior Member of the G.O.C.'s board of Military Observers as being unreliable (see 'Aneta' report of the 26th January). This too could be answered effectively. The Committee's reply is attachment 4. [7]

11. 'Aneta' of January 26 included the Committee's report on the military situation in Indonesia of the 24th January, but distorted the facts. According to 'Aneta', 'the report released here today says the Netherlands Commander ordered his troops to cease hostilities in accordance with the Council Resolution...' Of course, the report said nothing of the kind. On the contrary, the Committee's reports have shown clearly that the Dutch failed to comply with the Council's Resolution [8] to cease hostilities at a time when such a Resolution could be effective. 'Aneta' of January 26 also summarises the Committee's report [9] of the previous day.

The summary states carefully that 'neither the Netherlands Government nor the Government of Indonesia has either officially or unofficially stated its position regarding the visit of the Republican leaders to the New Delhi conference. It carefully avoids, however, any mention of the statement attributed to an official spokesman which it had published a few days earlier, and which was mentioned in the report, to the effect that the Netherlands Government would grant facilities for visits of Republican leaders to New Delhi and Lake Success.

12. In last week's letter I mentioned that I would endeavour to send a translation from the Chinese Paper 'Sin Po' of a special article, 'A week with guerillas'. A translation of this article has already been sent to Canberra in the 'Press Review' numbers 105, 106, 107 and 108.

13. You will have gathered from my telegram that on January 28 the Dutch arrested the Press Officer of the Republican Delegation and an officer of the Republican Ministry of Information. The arrests were based, inter alia, on Section 171 of the Penal Code which, when translated stipulates-

'he, who purposely creates unrest amongst the population by the dissemination of an untruthful report is liable to a penalty by imprisonment of at most one year or of a fine of at most 300 guilders.'

The case is now in the hands of the district attorney. As, under Dutch-Indonesian law, the onus is on the prisoner to prove that the report is truthful, and since under a state of 'war and siege', it is only necessary for the prosecution to show that the report might create unrest, the prisoners seem to have little chance.

14. Documents and office equipment, such as typewriters and mimeograph machines, were confiscated at the time of arrest. The Republican Information Office in Batavia will, therefore, be unable to carry out its functions, which included the publication of the daily 'Press Review'. As you will realize from consideration of the copies of 'Press Review' sent to Canberra, we shall miss the English translations of articles and comments appearing in the Indonesian press and the foreign pressmen will also be deprived of an important source of information.

15. Although the Commission will have to proceed cautiously and carefully, it may be possible to make use of these arrests to initiate further enquiries into the position of political prisoners in Indonesia.

Political Prisoners 16. At the 395th meeting of the Security Council on December 28th, Col. Hodgson recalled a remark made more than a year previously by the Netherlands representative in the Security Council that 'the Netherlands Government was not in the habit of taking political prisoners, would not take political prisoners and had never imprisoned them'. (Verbatim record, page 83.) The following particulars will doubtless be of interest in this connection.

17. The facts have been supplied by George Kahin, a young American student to whom you will remember I have referred in previous letters and telegrams. Kahin has conducted considerable research into the position of political prisoners, and has obtained most of his facts from representatives of the Panitia Sosial, an Indonesian social welfare organization working among Indonesian prisoners in the gaols. Kahin himself has interviewed several people who have served periods of imprisonment as political prisoners and who have since been released.

18. In the gaols in Batavia there are at least 1000 political prisoners, most of whom are 'preventive political prisoners' who have not yet been charged by the Attorney-General's office with any offence and who are stated to be 'still under investigation'.

Most of these people have been imprisoned on this basis for a considerable time. Besides this thousand 'preventives' there is also a large number of prisoners in Batavia who are classed by the Dutch as ordinary criminals and are serving sentences, but who should really be classified as political prisoners. In addition it has been reported that some members of the T.N.I. who are captured are now being gaoled as common criminals, the Dutch view being that since the Republic no longer exists, there can be no prisoners of war and that the T.N.I. can be treated as bandits.

19. Of the political prisoners in Batavia, 352, all 'preventives' are in Glodok gaol, where they have been imprisoned for an average of ten months. At Struiweg gaol there are 24 political prisoners who are classed by the Dutch as 'political internees'. These people have been imprisoned following convictions of being 'dangerous to law and order'. The majority of political prisoners in Batavia are in Tjipinang gaol, which cannot be visited, even by members of the Panitia Sosial. Among the 'preventives' at Tjipinang, 41 are known to be former policemen.

20. It is claimed that in West Java at least 5000 political prisoners are held by the Dutch, the greater number of whom are 'preventive political prisoners' who have not been charged with any offence.

21. Conditions in at least some of those gaols which can be visited are extremely bad and 'preventive political prisoners', whatever their standing in the community, are accorded the same treatment as criminals. In the Batavia gaols, for instance, prisoners are given nothing to sleep on, but are forced to lie on bare cement floors which are usually damp and often wet. According to Kahin cases of brutal treatment and torture are frequent. Kahin himself has interviewed some former 'preventives' who had been subjected to torture.

Developments in Pasundan 22. Since the resignation of most of the members of the Pasundan cabinet following the arrest of four leading Republicans of that State (reported in my telegram K.257 [10] and mentioned again in my letter [11] to you of January 25), further information has come to hand regarding the background to these events.

23. You will remember that Adil Puradiredja's cabinet resigned on December 19 following the Dutch military action. This was in pursuance of a promise made by Adil to Hatta on December 12, that he and his cabinet would resign if and when the Dutch attacked the Republic. Following Adil's resignation, according to Republican sources, Spoor sent an emissary to the Wali Negara of Pasundan (Wiranatakusuma) to impress upon him the urgency of immediately forming a cabinet so that Pasundan could be represented at the B.F.O. conference and in discussions with Drees. At this time the Dutch were extremely embarrassed because Drees had been unable to contact responsible Federalists following the Cabinet resignations in East Indonesia and Pasundan.

24. Wiranatakusuma unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Adil to form a new cabinet. Djumhana who was next called upon, accepted.

Djumhana has a somewhat chequered political background. Early in 1948 he was prominent among the Republican supporters in opposing the formation of a State in West Java. During recent months according to Republican sources he has begun to play both sides.

While assuring the Republicans that he would oppose any Dutch military action he is suspected of having informed the Dutch that he would support such a move. Republicans, generally, regard him as an opportunist.

25. According to the U.P. correspondent's story, which I have been unable to verify, Djumhana in accepting the mandate to form a new cabinet, declared that its policy would be based primarily upon the restoration of the Republican Government. According to the same source after forming his cabinet, he presented to the Ministers the 'urgency programme' attachment 5. [12] If these reports are correct, there can be no question of the Ministers having been in ignorance of the 'urgency programme'.

26. Djumhana, of course, represented Pasundan at the B.F.O.

conference early this month, and was one of the five-man commission appointed by the B.F.O. to contact various Republican leaders, including those interned at Prapat and Bangka, with a view to establishing an interim federal government on the basis of the B.I.O. decree. [13] This apparently provoked strong opposition from Republican supporters in Pasundan. It is difficult however to escape the conclusion that the fall of the Cabinet was directly connected with the military proclamation of Engles (see last week's letter) and the arrest of leading Republican supporters.

27. According to Republican sources, many Indonesians believe that Engles's proclamation, which accused the Pasundan Government of not fully co-operating in maintaining law and order, was a direct order to Wiranatakusuma to keep in line, as he had already been warned to do by Spoor's emissary a few weeks previously. In any case, both Wiranatakusuma and Djumhana made appeals to the people of Pasundan, shortly after the arrests, for the restoration of 'peace and order'. An interesting sidelight on Wiranatakusuma's position is that he is believed by Indonesians in Bandung to be in contact with his son, Col. Achmid Wiranatakusuma, a member of the Republican Siliwangi Division, now carrying on guerilla activities south of Bandung.

28. The latest development is that Djumhana has succeeded in forming a new cabinet, which includes Adil Puradiredja. There are conflicting rumours as to its composition and policy.

White Australia 29. The Dutch press here are giving special prominence to reports regarding the deportation order issued by the Minister for Immigration against Mrs. Annie O'Keefe [14], an Indonesian woman married to an Australian. Reports such as this, in addition to encouraging those ill-disposed towards us, cause the utmost confusion among our friends in these parts. The O'Keefe case has already caused considerable embarrassment to those Indonesians who regard Australia as a champion of liberty and to those foreigners here, whether Asian or European, who have constantly praised Australia's realistic policy in South East Asia. A few reports of this nature, which arouse humanitarian opposition and cannot be defended by any of the stock arguments, can undo, perhaps irreparably, goodwill which has been built up by months of painstaking effort. But, then, I know you appreciate all this.

1 Document 168.

2 An extract from an article entitled 'A Permanent Danger' in the Bataaviasche Nieuwsblad on 26 January. It complained that the Committee of Good Offices was thwarting the development of the federal idea in Indonesia, upholding the 'fiction' of the Republic, and perpetuating 'insecurity and chaos'.

3 An article entitled 'Who is Professor Frank J. Graham? In the Bataaviasche Nieuwsblad on 26 January.

4 See note 1 to Document 153.

5 An extract from an article entitled 'Hatta Denies Lies' in the Bataaviasche Nieuwsbald on 21 January.

6 See note 1 to Document 82.

7 Information Release No. 124 of the Committee of good Offices dated 26 January.

8 See note 3 to Document 31.

9 See note 1 to Document 157.

10 Document 156.

11 Document 153.

12 The Pasundan 'Urgency Programme' demanded a cessation of hostilities, the reopening of negotiations between the Netherlands and the Indonesian Republican prisoners, and the participation of the Republican Government in the Federal Interim Government.

13 See note 1 to Document 74.

14 Mrs O'Keefe, an Ambonese citizen, had been evacuated to Australia with her seven children in 1942 by the Dutch. Despite her subsequent mariage to an Australian citizen she was compelled to leave Australia under the requirements of the racially discriminatory Immigration Act. See the statement by the Minister for Immigration, Arthur A. Calwell, on 26 January in Current Notes, Volume 20, No. 2 1949, pp.256-7.

[AA : A1838, 401/1/2/6, i]