478 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram K22 BATAVIA, 19 December 1947, 1.50 p.m.


The chips have begun to fall on the table. There is a possibility of a major crisis early next week primarily on the cease fire; it may also extend to political discussions.

At this afternoon's meeting of Special Committees [1] (called at the request of the Dutch who wished to make a statement) Van Vredenburch and Leimena made the following statements and comments.

1. Van Vredenburch spoke at length on the subject of a recent Republican press statement which exposed the Dutch attitude to cease fire organizing [2] Committee. This Republican statement pointed out that the Dutch had agreed only to those parts of the suggestions of the Committee which either did not affect their position or were in their own interest in their attempt at control of Java, Sumatra and Madura, militarily and economically. [3]

Apart from Dutch requests to the Committee for elucidation of the matters contained in the Committee's truce plan [4], they had also submitted a suggested variation to the plan. [5] This variation was to have an agreement signed immediately covering the points of the Committee's initial cease fire suggestions on which agreement had already been reached in principle. [6] In the Committee's plan it was proposed that these points should be incorporated when the agreement on plan had been reached. [7]

Van Vredenburch maintained that immediate final agreement on these points would create a good atmosphere and benefit the islands concerned; for example, it would allay serious Dutch suspicions that Republic condoned acts of sabotage and intimidation. He said that he now felt obliged to go on record to the effect that the Republic incited its soldiers to sabotage etc., at its acceptance of the Security Council's resolutions unless of course the Republic were able to prove to the contrary. [8] This last statement was based on the allegations which he had made earlier.

In view of the fact that the Republic had not disowned responsibility for acts of terrorism, no withdrawal of Netherlands forces could be taken into consideration until there was a well disciplined police force to take over. Van Vredenburch added that it was very difficult to continue discussions if no or insufficient confidence existed.

He also stated that the Dutch were submitting a military paper to the Committee on 20th December based on elucidations of the Committee's truce plan. Until this paper could be considered there was nothing definite to talk about.

Leimena tabled the Republic[an] press statement and amplification on their written reply to the Dutch suggested variation. The Republic[an] reply was that they could not see the point of having a very limited agreement signed before agreement on the major question of the cease fire itself was reached. They could not abandon their supporters behind Dutch forward positions to be mopped up by the Dutch. The Republic had accepted the Committee's proposal and would stick by this. Leimena said that all the Dutch were doing was going over old allegations made to the Consular Commission and the Security Council and as these allegations were taken into account when the 1st November resolution was passed he could see no further point in discussing them. The main thing was to get on with reaching a cease fire agreement immediately. He added that there were ample reasons for the Republic to distrust the Netherlands Government and that the resolution of 1st November should apply to the whole of Java, Sumatra and Madura and not to part of these islands only.

2. Van Vredenburch's second main point was about much vexed question of isolated Republic[an] pockets. He said that unless the fact of existence or otherwise of these isolated pockets was established it was useless to carry on discussions.

He pointed out that the Dutch had asked three weeks ago that such investigations be made and he was surprised that nothing had been done about it. [9]

3. Van Vredenburch made several references to the fact that certain of the state-ments he was making were at the instruction of Beel. This seems strange since Beel stated emphatically that his visit had nothing directly or indirectly to do with Renville discussions. [10]

Van Vredenburch said that he was surprised that some people still believed that political discussions could take place in the present atmosphere.

4. He asked that the following questions be referred to the Committee by rep-resentatives:

(a) Whose responsibility was it that no investigations of isolated pockets had taken place? (b) As the Committee has responsibility under the Security Council's resolutions it has responsibility to see that appropriate measures be taken to ensure security of life and property. He wanted the Committee's opinion on this point. Why therefore did not the Committee sponsor the Dutch variation to the plan when referring it to the Republic? (c) Would the Committee sponsor and re-submit the Dutch variation to the Republic? 5. These questions form the first step of an obvious attempt to pin blame for delays on the Committee and so discredit it. The Committee is meeting today to consider replies.

1 The meeting in question took place on 18 December. This cablegram was presumably drafted on that day, but not dispatched until 19 December.

2 A sign here indicates 'mutilated'.

3 Issued by the Republican Ministry of Information on 14 December, the statement also contained a list of alleged breaches of the cease-fire by Dutch forces after 1 November.

4 See Documents 475 and 476.

5 The Dutch proposal was submitted by Van Vredenburch at a meeting of the Special Committees and the representatives of the Committee of Good Offices on 9 December.

6 See Document 433, note 4.

7 See Document 449, paragraph 8.

8 This sentence appears to have been corrupted in transmission.

Van Vredenburch alleged that the Republican Government had incited its soldiers to sabotage, intimidation and reprisals against civilians, and that the Republicans 'had not-notwithstanding repeated assurances to the contrary-accepted without reservations the resolutions of the Security Council, including the resolution of 1 November including the words: "and to take appropriate measures for safeguarding life and property".' 9 This suggestion was in fact first made by Van Vredenburch on 3 December (see Document 457, note 6) and was repeated at the meeting of the Special Committees and the representatives of the Committee of Good Offices on 9 December.

10 See Document 477, paragraph 2.

[AA:A1838/274, 854/10/4/2, ii]