Indonesian Crisis

March 5, 1958

Report Outline
Civil War and Subversion in Indonesia
Role of Dutch in Indonesian History
Internal Ills of Independent Indonesia

Civil War and Subversion in Indonesia

Establilishment of Rebel Republic in Indonesia

Civil war threatens the island republic of Indonesia where the central government has reacted to establishment of a revolutionary regime by bombing key insurgent transportation and communication points. The rebels, who proclaimed a republic in Central Sumatra on Feb. 15, are asking more local autonomy, a new cabinet responsible to the parliament, clean-up of corruption in the government, ousting of Communist sympathizers, and anti-inflationary economic measures. President Sukarno, who has rejected all these demands in the past, insists on complete surrender by the rebels in advance of negotiations. The head of the rebel government, discounting Sukarno's ability to mount a successful attack without help from abroad, said on Mar. 3 that the rebels would ask the United States for arms if the Russians helped the central government.

The insurrection, climaxing more than a year of bitter dissension among the Indonesians, was touched off by a government-ordered anti-Dutch strike on Dec. 2. The strike inspired members of strongly nationalist unions to take possession of numerous Dutch businesses on the island of Java, and the government followed up that action by formally taking over the seized properties. In addition, it nationalized the Dutch-owned shipping company which carried on 70 per cent of Indonesia's inter-island transportation. The anti-Dutch campaign was intended to force the former colonial rulers to turn over Netherlands New Guinea to the island republic. However, the rebels believe that the precipitate nationalization of Dutch enterprises, and the ensuing expulsion of the Dutch nationals who knew how to operate them, formed part of a Communist-inspired plot to undermine the economic stability of the country.

The revolutionary government is headed by Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, former president of the Bank of Indonesia, who fled to Sumatra in mid-December protesting that wanton violence against Dutch interests might turn Indonesia into a Soviet satellite state. The rebel regime has claimed complete sovereignty over Indonesia; ordered diplomatic representatives to report to it; and demanded control over Indonesian assets abroad. So far, however, only two groups, in North and Central Celebes and at the northern tip of Sumatra, have recognized the revolutionary government. South Sumatra has taken a half-way position; while not recognizing the new regime, all of its political parties except the Communist have joined to demand resignation of Premier Djuanda's cabinet at Jakarta, seat of the central government.

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