The Situation: In the last several years the demands of the Regent and his family members and supporters on the villagers have increased dramatically. They seem to be involved in some sort of competition with nearby, wealthier Regents. This competition is understandable and the villagers would like their Regent to appear in a good light. Nevertheless, the demands have simply become too great and individual families are leaving Lebak due to the demands being made on them. The situation has become quite serious of late with some villagers being murdered for protesting against the demands of the Regent and his family. Fortunately, the new Assistant Resident, Max Havelaar, has tried to protect the indigenous population in Lebak (located in the north of the island of Java). In particular Havelaar has allowed villagers to conference with him secretly, giving them a safe forum to relate the abuses they are suffering at the hands of the Regent (Bhupati in Malay) of Lebak and his extended family. Havelaar has independently documented these abuses by observing the results as soon after they occur as possible, creating a massive dossier of evidence. This evidence has now been submitted to the Resident of Bantam and the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Since Havelaar has submitted an official complaint against the Regent of Lebak as opposed to an informal complaint, a trial must take place in which Havelaar and the Regent respectively must defend and justify their actions. The trial is in one sense a godsend, for it might mean the reform of an intolerable situation. On the other hand the trial also means grave danger for the villagers and their headmen. For anyone who gives evidence in a way that is identifiable is risking his or her life and the lives of his or her family.
Goals 1, the Village Headmen of Lebak:The village headmen would like to see the villages that they govern become prosperous once again. There are two scenarios in which this outcome would be possible: 1) the current regent is dismissed and replaced by a more able successor or 2) the current regent remains in place but is forced to implement reforms. To achieve these outcomes, the village headmen must convince the villagers to remain on the land and support the prosecution of the Regent. In the trial, the village headmen will therefore give their evidence before the villagers, but after the Regent's followers and Max Havelaar's supporters, on day 2/3.
Advantages: The villagers tend to follow their headmen because these men have more experience in dealing with political matters and because the headmen have actually been able to prevent some of the abuses of the villagers. In addition, the village headmen have some bargaining power as they represent the villagers and can therefore present criticisms without claiming them as their own.Goals 2, the Villagers of Lebak: The villagers are key to Max Havelaar winning his trial. If they give evidence on the last day(s) of the trial [on day 3/4], then Max Havelaar has a good chance of winning his case. If they choose not to give evidence, Max Havelaar automatically loses the case. The villagers simply want to be allowed to live their lives in peace, so that they can simply till the land and not have to worry about being killed. They can achieve this if the Regent of Lebak wins (so long as the Regent of Lebak agrees to make written promises of good treatment in the future) or if Max Havelaar wins.
Disadvantages: The village headmen have been having a hard time keeping villagers on the land. Without the villagers they have no bargaining power at all and must leave Lebak themselves. In order to succeed they must keep all of the villagers behind them, which means getting individual villagers to testify in the court at some personal risk to themselves. If the villagers are unconvinced by the headmen then the headmen will have failed and the Max Havelaar's case will collapse. This will result in the execution of the headmen and their families.
Advantages: The villagers have more than one way to win the game and they don't have to support Max Havelaar if they think that the Regent of Lebak will give them a legally binding promise of future protection. Moreover, they know that Max Havelaar has no choice but to support them, so they can do what they want regardless of what he does.
Disadvantages: The villagers cannot afford to leave the Regent of Lebak in power without a promise of future good behavior towards the villagers. If the Regent wins without being forced into a promise of future good treatment, they are all dead. Unfortunately, the villagers do not find out whether the Regent of Lebak will give them such a promise until after they have had their chance to testify, at which point the Court Convener will call for any final additions to the briefs of the chief parties to the case: Max Havelaar and the Regent of Lebak and his family and supporters.