189 Department of External Affairs to Legation in The Hague and Ballard
Cablegrams 104, 120 CANBERRA, 1 November 1946
REPATRIATION OF INDONESIANS
The Government desires that all Indonesians now in Australia
should be repatriated in H.M.A.S. MANOORA due to leave Brisbane
not later than 18th November.
2. The Indonesians concerned fall into two categories, viz:-
(a) 570 free Indonesians, 200 of whom were discharged from N.E.I.
military custody and demobilised from the N.E.I. Army as recently
as October 18th. There is no objection by N.E.I. authorities here
to the repatriation of this group;
(b) approximately 300 Indonesians still detained in an N.E.I.
Prison Camp at Casino, N.S.W., where, according to the Netherlands
Minister , they are serving sentences imposed by Royal
Netherlands Indies Court Martial for refusal to obey orders.
N.E.I. authorities here will not agree to release and repatriation
but have asked us to ship them to Moratai. The government cannot
agree to this. So long after the cessation of hostilities it is
not possible to tolerate the holding of seemingly political
prisoners in a foreign camp in Australia. The Netherlands Minister
has declined as unacceptable an offer made by the Australian
Government to keep the Indonesians at Casino in an open camp
pending their repatriation.
3. We have requested the Netherlands Legation to take up with the
Netherlands and N.E.I. Governments, as a matter of urgency, the
question of liberating from the Casino Camp and demobilising from
the N.E.I. Army all Indonesians now undergoing detention with a
view to their repatriation as free men in the MANOORA on the 18th
November. We draw attention to-
(a) the spirit in which truce negotiations are being conducted in
(b) the decision recently reached in Batavia for the exchange of
political detainees by the Dutch and Indonesian forces;
(c) the widespread conviction of a large section of the Australian
people that the Indonesians detained at Casino are in fact held in
custody not for simple disobedience of military orders but for
insubordination prompted by political considerations;
(d) the unfortunate wounding and killing by N.E.I. military guards
of certain Indonesian inmates of the Casino Camp;
(e) the fact that the continued maintenance of Casino Camp as a
foreign detention barracks on Australian soil fourteen months
after the end of the war is an obstacle to harmonious Dutch-
Australian relations, and
(f) the fact that no legal justification for the maintenance of
the camp by the Dutch will exist after the termination at a very
early date of the National Security Regulations covering the
establishment of such camps.
4. Please support immediately our approach to the Netherlands
Minister at Canberra along the lines indicated in paragraph 3,
emphasising that the Australian Government desires to repatriate
in the MANOORA as free men all Indonesians in Australia, including
those now undergoing detention at Casino.
5. It seems that the only way of obtaining release of the
prisoners is a decision by the Netherlands Government to terminate
forthwith their sentences. If this is so, you should press
unhesitatingly for such action by the Netherlands. In view of the
date of the sailing of the ship, you should emphasize the urgency
of this issue. In any case attention is directed to paragraph
[AA:A1838/2, 401/3/1/1, ii]