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327. Memorandum From the Director of Intelligence and Research (Cumming) to the Acting Secretary of State1

SUBJECT

  • Intelligence Note: Insurgent “Republic of the South Moluccas”

The Attorney General of the Federal State of East Indonesia, Dr. Soumokil, rallied locally prominent citizens to constitute themselves into a self-styled Republic of the South Moluccas (Republik Maluku Selatan—RMS) on April 25, 1950. It embraced the islands of Buru, Ceram, Ambon and Banda. The purported legal justification for the RMS declaration of independence lay in the constitution of the Republic of the United States of Indonesia (RUSI), which granted the subordinate territories the right to determine their ultimate status by democratic means—a right which it claimed had been denied to it. The movement was supported by Christian Ambonese who as strong supporters of the Dutch feared discrimination by the dominant Javanese. Conservative elements in the Netherlands also supported the movement.RMS armed forces were made up of the many Ambonese Dutch colonial troops (KNIL) who were undecided about assimilating [Page 554]into the RUSI army. The central government twice sought to negotiate with the rebels without success. In September 1950, it landed troops which occupied the whole of Ambon and largely destroyed Amboina. For the next six years the Indonesian Government estimated the strength of the RMS at only 200, but in the fall of 1956, the estimate unaccountably increased to 2,000. Dr. Soumokil who in 1950 had escaped to the Netherlands, is believed to have returned to the Moluccas in 1953. In late 1956, his headquarters were reported to be in the western part of Ceram Island. The RMS maintains an information agency in New York and has made repeated unsuccessful attempts to have its case brought before the United Nations. Much of this agency’s propaganda effort has been aimed at enlisting US support.RMS postage stamps have featured General MacArthur. Attached RMS map and information pamphlet,2 in English, are intended to emphasize the strategic value of the area. To date no foreign government has recognized the RMS.

Dissident activity appears to have increased in the south Moluccas. On December 17, 1957 there were reports that Indonesian parachute troops arrested more than 100 civilians and army personnel in Amboina and other islands of the Moluccas after food riots. On December 18, it was reported that the government had put down an attempted coup by army officers in the Moluccas islands 10 days before. Prime Minister Djuanda in a press conference the same day acknowledged that there had been some arrests in that area but refused to disclose details. He denied, however, that the arrests had resulted from food riots—leading to the inference that anti-Dutch activity in Java has increased the determination of certain pro-Dutch Ambonese elements to break out of the Republic of Indonesia.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756C.00/12–2357. Secret.
  2. Neither printed.