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The Militant, 23 March 1946

Mike Cort

Dutch Troops Pour into Java; New Battles Flare

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 12, 23 March 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Indonesian people’s long and bitter struggle for independence flared into renewed violence this past week with the sudden landing of 2,400 fresh Dutch troops in Batavia on March 9. These landings, and the counter-attacks by the natives, occurred just as the Dutch and Indonesian Nationalists were to open negotiations over the future status of the Netherland Indies.

The Dutch Governor-General van Mook had previously countered the Indonesian Nationalist demand for complete and immediate independence with an offer of dominion status under continued Dutch rule. It is now clear that the Dutch are employing these negotiations as a smokescreen behind which they hope to land overwhelming military strength and thus ultimately decide the issue with bayonets.

The unheralded arrival of Dutch forces spurred Indonesian Nationalists into new and determined attacks upon the British occupationists in western Java. It served also to intensify the conflict between the native population and imperialist troops in other islands of the Netherland Indies.

Empty Promises

Governor General van Mook and his British allies hoped that their gaudy and empty promises would lull the Indonesians into inactivity while the Dutch garrisoned their islands with overwhelming military strength. But it seems that Dutch military reinforcements have only served to further inflame the struggle and steel the Indonesians in their determination for complete independence.

Three days after the Dutch landings in Batavia, a strong force of Indonesian Nationalists attacked a British convoy near Buitenzorg, killing seven British soldiers and wounding 25. About 300 natives planted land mines in the road, threw up road blocks and surrounded a column of British supply trucks accompanied by tank escort. Later in the day a second convoy en route to Bandung, Java’s summer capital, were ambushed by the Nationalist troops. British imperialists, reacting with their usual bloodthirsty violence, dispatched strong tank detachments and Thunderbolt planes to the scene of the action. Despite the formidable British armour employed, the natives continue to hold their siege of the convoys as of this writing.

Fighting Continues

Meanwhile the struggle by native troops at Menado, North Celebes, is reported by the Dutch to have been finally suppressed on March 13 with the arrival of the Dutch destroyer Feit Hein. Fighting continues, however, along the east coast of the island near the Gulf of Bone.

Spasmodic flare-ups also continue on the island of Sumatra where the British have reimposed a curfew in the Padang area after their occupation troops were ambushed by native warriors. The Indonesian Republican flag was also hoisted in Galela on northern Halmahera island, and the Dutch are dispatching to that area a large punitive force.

The British have been trying to smuggle Dutch occupation troops into Java under the transparent excuse that they were merely replacing evacuating British troops. The British implied that all British troops were being pulled out of the Netherlands Indies. But on February 28 the British Commander-in-chief in India revealed that only Indian Moslem troops were being withdrawn. This move was dictated by the fact that increasing numbers of Indian troops were joining the Indonesian fighters for independence, and the British no longer considered them “reliable.”

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