133 Bondan to Chifley

Letter BRISBANE, 21 July 1947

We learnt from tonight's A.B.C. [1] news that no official approach had yet been made to you concerning the present acute situation in Indonesia.

No doubt you are aware that our Committee [2] is not an official organ of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, but conducts its work voluntarily. Nevertheless, we trust that, having endeavoured to represent the cause of Indonesian Independence in Australia for the past twenty-two months, we may presume to speak for our Republic in this hour of crisis. And it seems clear to our Committee that an official instruction concerning such an approach from the Government of the Republic has failed to reach its officer, Dr Oesman Sastroamidjojo, now in Australia.

We therefore take it upon ourselves so to approach you.

On behalf of the Indonesian people we appeal on the grounds of humanity and justice to you as the head of the Government of our nearest southern neighbour, to use your good influences to stop the war which has now broken out in our country.

We are aware that Dutch officials deny that the events of today and yesterday in Indonesia constitute warfare, but are 'policing actions' to prevent intervention by elements sabotaging agreement between Indonesians and Dutch. We seem to remember that the Japanese likewise denied any act of war in China for many long years, although thousands of Chinese were killed and injured and their cities fell. It seems that the Indonesian is to be another undeclared war.

But we grow through experience. Through her own agony in the Middle East, in Malaya and New Guinea, Australia has learned the lesson of undeclared wars, and will not be likely to be blinded again.

Tonight's Djokjakarta Radio news (Djokjakarta is the republican capital) informs us that 100,000 Dutch combined land, sea and air forces launched an attack on military and non-military objectives throughout Java and Sumatra at midnight of July 20th21st, and that heavy fighting is now going on in all demarcation areas. Can such large-scale attacks be glossed over as 'policing actions', or are we right in believing with our Prime Minister that they are war as total as the Dutch military leadership can make it? Another news item discloses that Dr A.K. Gani, Republican Vice- Premier, in a last-minute effort to find a peaceful solution to the situation, yesterday presented the Dutch Commission-General in Djakarta (Batavia) with three alternative proposals. Firstly, he suggested, that the two parties should negotiate again in an endeavour to solve their problems; secondly, if that should fail, they should both seek the arbitration of a third neutral party;

and if that also should fail to settle their differences, both parties should apply to the International Court of justice.

Today, Dr Gani was arrested-arrested with Dr Tamzil, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mr Soewirjo, Republican Mayor of Djakarta and two hundred other Republican officials of that city, whose offices were closed and activities ended by the Dutch forces. Was Dr Gani 'taken into protective arrest' (as our Brisbane paper has it) and therefore paraded down the streets, or was he being made an example of to other determined nationalists? Such acts show no desire on the part of the Dutch to co-operate or reach real compromise over matters Indonesian. They only expose the Dutch will to remove the leadership of the Republic, the better and quicker to destroy it. It is an old tactic, well known to us who for long years were political exiles in Tanah Merah. [3]

The enclosed bulletin [4], which it had been our purpose to deliver to you in Brisbane before we had thought of this present letter, tells the story of the degree of agreement reached in the Indonesian-Dutch dispute. We take it that this is not the first evidence you have received as to the veracity of the reports that the Republic had rejected all the Dutch proposals.

We believe that the Republican stand is a just and a fair one, and the concessions made exhibit a very sincere desire to reach a workable agreement quickly with the Dutch authorities. We believe that any accurate report of the happenings we record will so appear to any just person.

Yet it is over this situation that the Dutch authorities have seen fit to gain by force of arms a complete subjection to their own point of view. We believe that recent statements of presumably responsible Dutch leaders-such as Drs Beel and Jonkman, Ministers of the Dutch Crown-show a complete disregard for the desires and aspirations of the Indonesian people, and certainly constitute a violation of the entire spirit of the Linggardjati Agreement, in which recognition of the de facto authority of the Government of the Republic was granted by the Netherlands.

We believe, therefore, that only international intervention can save our country and our people. Australia has put her hand to the United Nations' Charter designed to protect the elementary human rights of all mankind and for the prevention of outbreaks just such as this. We look to you accordingly as one of the guardians of democracy, and we plead with you to act quickly and as best you are able, before it is once more too late, and the world is involved all over again in hideous warfare.

President Soekarno, in his radio speech this evening, specifically asked all countries sympathetic to Indonesia's struggle, who are members of that Organisation, to take up the Indonesian-Dutch question immediately with the United Nations Organisation, and pleaded for all help and assistance that democratic peoples could give in bringing a speedy end to the war that is now proceeding in Indonesia. [5] While we can still greet you as a free people-


1 Australian Broadcasting Commission.

2 The Central Committee of Indonesian Independence (Central Komite Indonesia Merdeka).

3 The Tanah Merah detention camp at Boven Digul in Dutch New Guinea had been used by the Government of the NEI to hold Indonesian political prisoners.

4 Not printed.

5 Sukarno's speech was broadcast by Radio Djokjakarta.

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