‘The Rebellion in the Dutch East Indies’ by Semoaen from Daily Worker. Vol. 3 No. 295. December 26, 1926.
THE insurrection in Indonesia is of a very serious character. Many of the insurgents are armed with rifles and revolvers. They have attempted to storm the prisons and have succeeded in temporarily occupying several telephone premises. In many places the railway lines have been torn up. The house of the Dutch governor-general has been destroyed. Barricades have been erected; many government officials, policemen and soldiers have been killed.
Tho numerous rebels have likewise been killed or arrested, the revolt continues to spread in the small towns of Bantam and has now also infected the central region of Java.
The official reports state that the immediate cause of the movement was the prohibition of assemblies—presumably in connection with the festivities of November 7. As Is well known, the proletariat of the Dutch East Indies regularly celebrates the 7th of November and the 1st of May throughout the country.
THE real motive of the rebellion, however, lies deeper. The rich East Indian archipelago, half way between India and China, arouses the desires of many imperialists. Therefore, the Dutch imperialists, who rule these parts, have determined to observe the so-called “open-door” policy in regard to foreign capital. But, as a natural consequence, the Dutch government is obliged to guarantee the international capitalists the possibility of exploiting the toiling masses in the Dutch East Indies, and this the Dutch authorities have actually done.
About 30 per cent of the population consists of workers, i.e. railway men, transport workers, miners and workers on the sugar, coffee, tea, rubber, and cocoa plantations. These workers receive wages which do not suffice to satisfy the barest minimum requirements of their families. Some 50 per cent of the inhabitants, the peasants, groan under the weight of heavy taxes which must be rendered either in gold or in the form of labor. The balance of the population, i.e., small merchants, the intellectuals, etc., are prevented from expanding their operations, and their wish to see an emancipation of the people is in vain. The Dutch authorities have attempted with all their power to prevent the rise of a native bourgeoisie, which is, indeed, practically non-existent.
Public health and public education are almost wholly neglected by the Dutch government. Secondary and high schools are relatively even fewer than in other eastern countries.
IT is only natural that under such circumstances a violent revolutionary movement was bound to develop among the workers, the peasants, the intelligentsia, and the petty bourgeoisie. The revolutionary movement gathered round the Communist Party of the Dutch East Indies, the “red” trade unions, and the national party known as Sarekat Rayat.
Ever since their inception the Dutch government has attempted to suppress these organizations, and the stronger they grew the stronger became the reaction. Since the end of the year 1925 terror has hindered the activity of these organizations, many thousands of whose members and leaders have been killed, arrested or exiled. Any movement aiming at an amnesty was answered by rifle bullets. Every strike was suppressed, the leaders and even the strikers themselves being thrown into prison. The editors of East Indian newspapers were condemned to many years’ imprisonment for any utterance in criticism of the government.
All channels were closed, even for the expression of a demand for amelioration of the conditions of living. The demands of the masses cannot even be formulated without incurring punishment.
Having no legitimate means of holding assemblies, publishing newspapers and forming organizations, the people were finally forced to reply to the white terror by rebellion.
That the revolt should occur just at this time is doubtless to be attributed in no mean degree to the powerful effect produced by the recent events in China and the victories of the Canton army, which have strengthened the confidence of the Indonesian population in their own power.
THE outbreak of the rebellion in western Java came as a surprise, but was not wholly unexpected. It was not unexpected, since the reaction carried on by the government under the lead of Governor-General Fock forced the native population to resort to defensive measures.
The new governor-general, De Graaff, who wished to initiate a policy aiming at restoring the confidence of the natives, is no longer in a position to bring about a change in the mood of the people. All elements of the population are now directing their energy towards an emancipation of the natives from Dutch dominion.
THE governor-general has declared that he will exterminate the Communists. But he is unaware of the relations between the Communists and the population. He does not know that the Fock regime, under the mask of “combatting Communism,” was out to suppress all such endeavors of the natives to improve their position as would have Impaired the profits of Dutch capitalists. He does not seem to know that the Sarekat Rayat, the only strong national organization of the people, is an organization of peasants, workers, petty bourgeois and intellectuals. The composition of this organization determines its national character. It is by no means a Communist organization, tho it is led by Communists. This shows that the persecution of the Communists and the prohibition issued against the Sarekat Rayat constitute a declaration of war on the most active part of the native population.
The trades unions, which strove for an improvement of the lot of what was certainly the most exploited proletariat of the world (the workers in the Dutch East Indies receive even less wages than the Chinese laborer), were prohibited on the grounds that they were led by Communists; but this does not mean that all native workers who are members of the trades unions are Communists.
THE most characteristic feature of the Indonesian movement lies in the fact that the active part of the Dutch East Indies population is headed by the Communists, so that the Communists are also the champions of the national movement. The persecution of the Communists, therefore, means the suppression of a national tendency, a step which was bound to lead to friction involving political attacks, the throwing of bombs, and finally open revolt.
The present rebellion is being conducted by the broad masses of the peasants, workers, petty bourgeois and intellectuals. It has altogether the character of a general rising of the population. The developments above described made it natural for the Communists to take the lead in this movement, the general popular nature of which is proved by the claims put forward by the insurgents:
“Freedom of the press, freedom for assemblies and organizations. Amnesty for all political prisoners and exiles. A general change of the constitution, giving the people the right to govern themselves. A general revision of taxes, modification in the taxation of the Indonesian masses. Labor legislation and labor protection. Extension and improvement of education.”
These demands are deeply rooted in the masses, who are determined to fight for their realization to the utmost. The Dutch government will not accede to these demands; on the contrary, its entire military resources are being mobilized to crush the rebellion and subjugate the native population yet further.
THE drastic measures taken by the Dutch government will only entail the revolt of ever broader masses of the natives. This is the beginning of the end of Dutch imperialist dominion over 50,000,000 of East Indians. The Indonesian revolution will be victorious, just as the Chinese revolution will be victorious.
The Daily Worker began in 1924 and was published in New York City by the Communist Party US and its predecessor organizations. Among the most long-lasting and important left publications in US history, it had a circulation of 35,000 at its peak. The Daily Worker came from The Ohio Socialist, published by the Left Wing-dominated Socialist Party of Ohio in Cleveland from 1917 to November 1919, when it became became The Toiler, paper of the Communist Labor Party. In December 1921 the above-ground Workers Party of America merged the Toiler with the paper Workers Council to found The Worker, which became The Daily Worker beginning January 13, 1924.
PDF of full issue: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020097/1926-12-29/ed-1/seq-1/