268 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram K169 BATAVIA, 7 October 1948

SECRET

Doengoes, the first place to which the Communists fled from Madiun, and Ponorogo, were retaken by Government forces on October 2nd. Communist leaders supported by one battalion are reported to have taken refuge on the slopes of Mount Willis.

2. Large blocks of country are still in the hands of the Communists. These are for the most part mountain areas to the South East and South West of Madiun; also an area around Poerwodadi and an area along the South coast. Government troops are pressing forward with not more than occasional resistance and sniping.

3. Communist action against the civilian population appears to have been much worse than was originally suspected. A number of police, government officials and Masjumi are known to have been murdered and many are reported missing. There are no reports of casualties among the Chinese community.

4. The Government and the political parties are showing a marked tendency to the right. This trend is causing concern to liberal elements such as Sjahrir. Anticommunist feeling is prompted both by the atrocity stories and by resentment against the breaking of the unity of the people. The hardening attitude of the Government is reflected in two recent Presidential decrees:

(a) The Republican news agency Antara has been directed to make no criticism of American policy.

(b) As from October 1st any expression of agreement with the actions of the rebels will be regarded as a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment up to ten years.

5. The Batavian Army Information Service has issued on October 6th a com-munique without quoting sources about the military situation in the Republic. It is a clever mixture of truth and fiction creating an impression that there is chaos in the Republic and apparently designed to prepare the way for Dutch military action.

Republicans feel there is a distinct possibility of a police action. The disposition of troops along the status quo line is threatening and reminiscent of, though more concentrated than, before the action of July 1947.

6. The G.R.R. at a meeting on October 3rd decided to create a new political party, the 'Partai Murba', or the Proletariat's party whose basic policy would be anti-fascist, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist.

[AA:A4357/2, 48/260/1, iii]