Saturday, November 3, 2012
Indonesia - Counter Revolution
Allied counter revolution
The Dutch accused Sukarno and Hatta of collaborating with the Japanese, and denounced the Republic as a creation of Japanese fascism. The Dutch East Indies administration had just received a ten million dollar loan from the United States to finance its return to Indonesia.
A soldier of an Indian armoured regiment examines a light tank used by Indonesian nationalists and captured by British forces during the fighting in Surabaya.
The Netherlands, however, was critically weakened from World War II in Europe and did not return as a significant military force until early 1946. The Japanese and members of the Allied forces reluctantly agreed to act as caretakers. As US forces were focusing on the Japanese home islands, the archipelago was put under the jurisdiction of British Admiral Earl Louis Mountbatten, the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command. Allied enclaves already existed in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Morotai (Maluku) and parts of Irian Jaya; Dutch administrators had already returned to these areas. In the Japanese navy areas, the arrival of Allied troops quickly prevented revolutionary activities where Australian troops, followed by Dutch troops and administrators, took the Japanese surrender (except for Bali and Lombok). Due to the lack of strong resistance, two Australian Army divisions succeeded in occupying eastern Indonesia.
The British were charged with restoring order and civilian government in Java. The Dutch took this to mean pre-war colonial administration and continued to claim sovereignty over Indonesia. British Commonwealth troops did not, however, land on Java to accept the Japanese surrender until late September 1945. Lord Mountbatten’s immediate tasks included the repatriation of some 300,000 Japanese, and freeing prisoners of war. He did not want, nor did he have the resources, to commit his troops to a long struggle to regain Indonesia for the Dutch. The first British troops reached Jakarta in late September 1945, and arrived in the cities of Medan (North Sumatra), Padang (West Sumatra), Palembang (South Sumatra), Semarang (Central Java) and Surabaya (East Java) in October. In an attempt to avoid clashes with Indonesians, the British commander Lieutenant General Sir Philip Christison, diverted soldiers of the former Dutch colonial army to eastern Indonesia, where Dutch reoccupation was proceeding smoothly. Tensions mounted as Allied troops entered Java and Sumatra; clashes broke out between Republicans and their perceived enemies, namely Dutch prisoners, Dutch colonial troops (KNIL), Chinese, Indo-Europeans and Japanese.
The first stages of warfare were initiated in October 1945 when, in accordance with the terms of their surrender, the Japanese tried to re-establish the authority they relinquished to Indonesians in the towns and cities. Japanese military police killed Republican pemuda in Pekalongan (Central Java) on 3 October, and Japanese troops drove Republican pemuda out of Bandung in West Java and handed the city to the British, but the fiercest fighting involving the Japanese was in Semarang. On 14 October, British forces began to occupy the city. Retreating Republican forces retaliated by killing between 130 and 300 Japanese prisoners they were holding. Five hundred Japanese and 2,000 Indonesians had been killed and the Japanese had almost captured the city six days later when British forces arrived. The Allies repatriated the remaining Japanese troops and civilians to Japan, although about 1,000 elected to remain behind and later assisted Republican forces in fighting for independence.
Destruction in Bandung's Chinese quarter