Netherlands Apologizes For Atrocities Against Indonesia

Saturday, February 19, 2022 | Tag Cloud Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

AMSTERDAM/JAKARTA (Worthy News) – The ’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte has offered a lengthy delayed apology to after a study confirmed that the Dutch army used extreme violence to regain control over their former colony.

“I make a deep apology to the people of Indonesia today. For the systematic and widespread extreme violence by the Dutch side in those years and the consistent looking away by previous cabinets,” Rutte said.

The investigation from three historical research institutes contradicts the long-held claims by the government that Dutch troops engaged in only sporadic violence. But the study found that forces committed atrocities they sought to regain control of the archipelago after World Two.

The study, which took more than four years to conclude, said sources showed that atrocities were carried out often against innocent civilians in the then Dutch East Indies in a systematic way. It found “that the use of extreme violence by the Dutch armed forces was not only widespread but often deliberate, too.”

“It was condoned at every level: political, and legal,” the researchers stressed.
“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,” their report added.

“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.

EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS

The review cited “extrajudicial executions, ill-treatment, torture, detention under inhumane conditions, the torching of houses and villages.”

It also mentioned “the theft and destruction of property and food supplies, disproportionate air raids and artillery shelling, and what were often random mass arrests and mass internment.”

War crimes were first revealed by a former Dutch veteran in 1969. However, the Dutch government has claimed for decades that there were only isolated attacks and that, in general, the army behaved correctly.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander already apologized in Indonesia in 2020, when Indonesians told Worthy , they appreciated the long-delayed move even though relations have since improved.

Now the prime minister has also apologized to post-colonial Indonesia, the world’s largest nation of more than 275 million people, where devoted Christians face persecution and other difficulties.

Rutte stressed, however, that the blame did not belong to individual soldiers but to the system at the time. “The prevailing culture was one of looking away, shirking, and a misplaced colonial sense of superiority,” he said. “That is a painful realization, even after so many years.”

TERROR REIGN

Dr. Rémy Limpach, one of the historians involved in the research, told reporters that part of the explanation for the conduct of the Dutch, which he said amounted at times to a “reign of terror,” was weakness in the face of guerrilla tactics.

“Often, it follows from a feeling of powerlessness, frustration, feeling that you have got your back against the wall,” Limpach said. “Not being able to handle the conflict with normal military means.”

The national Rijks Museum in Amsterdam last week opened an exhibition looking at Indonesia’s war of independence.

Indonesia proclaimed independence on August 17, 1945, declaring an end to ’s World War II dominance as well as 350 years of Dutch colonial rule.

But the Netherlands fought fiercely to maintain control for four years before recognizing Indonesia’s independence in 1949.

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