【World】Dutch apologize for ‘extreme violence’ in Indonesia war

By Al Mayadeen Net | Source: Agencies

Years after sending Dutch troops to squash Indonesia’s independence in the 40s, the Netherlands is now apologizing.

After research concluded that the Dutch army employed “systematic and excessive violence” during Indonesia’s independence war, the Dutch Prime Minister apologized to Indonesia on Thursday.

During the 1945-49 war, Dutch forces burnt towns and carried out mass detentions, torture, and executions, frequently with implicit government assistance, according to a four-year investigation by Dutch and Indonesian researchers.

The findings demolished the long-held Dutch official position that there were just a few isolated incidents of disproportionate violence by its forces as the colony it had ruled for 300 years broke free.

“Today, on behalf of the Dutch government, I present my deepest excuses to the people of Indonesia for the systematic and extreme violence from the Dutch side in those years,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a press conference.

Rutte said he was also sorry for the “subsequent blind eye by various previous Dutch governments.”

“We also apologize to all those living in the Netherlands who had to live with the consequences of the colonial war in Indonesia, including those war veterans who did behave appropriately,” he added.

It is not the first time the Netherlands has apologized to Indonesia. During a visit to Indonesia in 2020, Dutch King Willem-Alexander formally apologized for “excessive violence” during the war. However, this is the first admission that there was a systematic campaign of violence.

‘Condone, justify, and conceal’ 

The research is the latest move in the Netherlands’ recent efforts to confront its terrible colonial past, as well as broader initiatives by former imperial nations around the world.

“The research shows that the vast majority of those who bore responsibility on the Dutch side – politicians, officers, civil servants, judges, and others – had or could have had knowledge of the systematic use of extreme violence,” the researchers said.

“There was a collective willingness to condone, justify and conceal it, and to let it go unpunished. All of this happened with a view to the higher goal: that of winning the war,” they said.

A former Dutch veteran initially exposed war crimes in 1969, but the official position has been that while “excesses” may have occurred, Dutch forces acted correctly on the whole.

New research shatters that myth

The crimes “included mass detentions, torture, burning of kampongs (homesteads), executions and killing of civilians,” Frank van Vree, a war history professor at the University of Amsterdam stated, during an online presentation of the findings.

Indonesia gained independence in 1945, following the Japanese occupation of the country during WWII.

The Dutch, on the other hand, desired to keep their old colony, so they dispatched troops to squash the independence uprising before retreating in 1949.

In 2015, a Dutch court ordered the Hague-based government to compensate the widows and children of Indonesian fighters killed by colonial forces.


This article was published in Al-Mayadeen Media Network, an independent Arab news channel launched in 2012, and is reprinted in truereport.hk with the consent from the network.

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