Saturday, May 28, 2005

Britain bombed Indonesian city; many hundreds of civilians killed.

When Japan surrendered its control of Indonesia in August 1945, Indonesia declared its independence. The Dutch, however, wanted to make Indonesia a colony once more.

Britain supported the Dutch.

In Surabaya, a British naval blockade cut off supplies to the city's Indonesian leaders.

On 16 September 1945, the Dutch flag was raised above Surabaya's Oranje Hotel. Young Indonesians pulled down the flag. There then began a period of vigilante attacks and gang killings throughout the city.

British troops led by Brigadier Mallaby fought Indonesian youths who were armed with bamboo spears.

Mallaby was assassinated.

On November 9, the new Allied commander issued an ultimatum: all leaders of the Indonesian resistance would surrender themselves by dawn the next day, or Surabaya would be bombed flat.

Surabaya was bombed.

"Hundreds upon hundreds were killed," said K'tut Tantri, a British woman who sided with the Indonesians. K'tut made anti-colonial broadcasts from an underground radio station and was given the name Surabaya Sue. "The streets ran with blood, women and children lay dead in the gutters. Kampongs were in flames, and the people fled in panic to the relative safety of the rice fields. But the Indonesians did not surrender."

Air strikes and naval bombardments gave the British control of most of the city, although some street fighting continued for three weeks.

Indonesian freedom fighters continued their struggle across Java for four years.

On December 27, 1949, the Netherlands finally gaveIndonesia its independence.

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