209 Forde to Chifley and Evatt

Cablegram A19 CANBERRA, 25 April 1946


As distinct from the inquiries which Brookes is making into the murder of the three Australian officers in Java [1], it seems necessary that the Commonwealth Government should take immediate steps to record a strong protest and, notwithstanding the expressions of regret and the assurances contained in the letter to Brookes from the Indonesian Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, to demand fullest investigation by the Indonesian authorities and active steps to bring the murderers to justice.

The letter addressed to Brookes is not thought to be adequate, particularly the reference to the outrage as an unhappy incident.

The initial difficulty is that formal protest cannot be presented to any Indonesian authority. We recognise the Netherlands as the sovereign power in the area and anything which could be regarded as an acknowledgment of an Indonesian Government might lead to complications which it seems desirable to avoid. This should not in our opinion delay or prevent the strongest protest directly or indirectly to the Indonesian Leaders. The Supreme Authority in Java at present is the British General who is Allied Military Commander. The course which we would propose is for Brookes to be instructed to request the Allied Military Commander to convey to the responsible Indonesian leaders, in whatever way he thinks most suitable and in the strongest possible terms, the extremely grave view which the Commonwealth Government takes of the murders and to call upon those Leaders to take all possible steps to bring the murderers to justice; also to inform them that the Commonwealth Government cannot accept the description in the Vice-Minister's letter of the wanton murders as an unhappy incident.

Would appreciate early advice.

1 See Documents 196 and 204.

[AA:A1838/2, 401/3/10/2, ii]