The Netherlands: Emergency Landing

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The Dutch countryside was in a virtual state of siege. Highways were blocked. The Hague was guarded by helicopters, tanks, bloodhounds and 5,000 state troopers and other police. Could this have been The Netherlands, Europe's haven of democratic tolerance? "We are taking no chances," explained a mustachioed constabulary captain. "We are applying what we call a Nixon or a Kosygin risk factor."

The occasion was the arrival of Indonesia's President Suharto, the first Indonesian ruler to make a state visit to the former mother country since the islands attained independence in 1949. The special security measures reflected the political tensions among exiled Indonesians in The Netherlands.

Captive Embassy. Three mornings before the President's arrival, 32 Indonesian exiles, equipped with machine guns, swords and daggers, attacked the Indonesian ambassador's residence near The Hague. They killed a Dutch policeman and held the embassy for eleven hours. Queen Juliana herself offered to drop by to settle the dispute. The demonstrators, who finally surrendered to police, were Amboina Islanders demanding independence for the South Moluccas Islands at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. Some 30,000 Amboinese live in The Netherlands and imagine themselves to be citizens of a phantom South Moluccas Republic. They harbor a grudge against the Jakarta government, which for years has refused to allow the Amboinese to secede from the Indonesian Republic.

The Amboinese attack caused Suharto to delay his trip by two days. When he finally landed at the Dutch government's Ypenburg Airport in a Garuda Indonesian Airways DC-8 jetliner, his hosts were taking no chances. Instead of walking to the waiting motorcade, the Queen led the President to a giant Sikorsky F61 helicopter that whisked him to the royal palace, high over the heads of hundreds of Amboinese separatists and other protesters who had stationed themselves along the highway route.

Unavoidable Excesses. Everything on the official itinerary was canceled except a visit to Parliament. Socialist Deputies reproached Suharto for the elimination of an estimated 250,000 Indonesian Communists in 1966. Suharto replied that in the period of disorganization following the abortive coup, the excesses had been unavoidable. He pleased many members by expressing his "utmost interest" in association with the European Common Market, as long as the link would not jeopardize his country's policy of "active neutrality." On the South Moluccas problem, he was adamant. "Our republic is unitary," he said, "and all else is treason."

Not even the large and friendly Indonesian community in The Netherlands had a chance to glimpse their President, whose stay had been reduced from three days to exactly 24 hours. Holland's Foreign Minister Joseph Luns declared, somewhat uncomfortably: "I believe everything went well, considering." But Communist Deputy Marcus Bakker scoffed: "This was no state visit. It was an emergency landing." After a planned two-day stopover in West Germany, Suharto intended to fly on to Lusaka, Zambia, to attend this week's Conference of Nonaligned Nations.