Indonesia. Dutch apologize for ‘extreme violence’ in War of Independence | Politics News

Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologizes after a study by Dutch and Indonesian researchers shattered the long-held belief that there were only isolated cases of violence.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has apologized to Indonesia after a study found the Dutch military used ‘systematic and extreme violence’ in a futile attempt to regain control of his former colony at the end of World War II.

Dutch forces burned villages and carried out mass detentions, torture and executions during the 1945-49 conflict, often with tacit government support, Dutch and Indonesian researchers have concluded after a four-and-a-half-year investigation .

The findings broke the long-standing Dutch official line that there were only isolated incidents of excessive violence by its forces as the colony it had held for 300 years fought for its freedom.

“We have to accept the shameful facts,” Rutte told a news conference Thursday after the findings were released.

“Today I sincerely apologize to the people of Indonesia on behalf of the Dutch government.”

The researchers previously presented the findings of the study, which began in 2017 and was funded by the Netherlands as part of a broader consideration of the country’s brutal colonial past.

The young men of Laskar Bambu Running stand ready with spears to face the Dutch in 1946 in today’s Indonesia. At least 100,000 Indonesians were killed as a direct result of the War of Independence [File: ANRI/IPPHOS/Handout via Reuters]

Violence by the Dutch military, including acts such as torture that would now be considered war crimes, was “frequent and widespread”, said historian Ben Schoenmaker of the Netherlands Institute of Military History. , one of more than two dozen academics who participated in the survey. study.

“Political leaders turned a blind eye to this violence, as did the military, civil and judicial authorities. They helped him, they covered him up and they barely punished him or not at all,” he said.

Count with the past

Indonesia declared its independence in 1945, shortly after the defeat of the Japanese who had occupied the country during World War II.

But the Dutch wanted to keep their former colony and sent troops to quell the independence uprising.

About 100,000 Indonesians died as a direct result of the war, with the Netherlands withdrawing in 1949.

Dutch crimes “included mass detentions, torture, burning of kampongs (villages), executions and murders of civilians”, said Frank van Vree, professor of war history at the University of Amsterdam, during an online presentation of the research.

Dutch courts have ruled that the Hague-based government must compensate the widows and children of Indonesian fighters executed by colonial troops, and that the statute of limitations does not apply in the case of the independence struggle of Indonesia.

During a visit to Indonesia in March 2020, King Willem-Alexander apologized for the Dutch violence.

The study noted that during the war, the government and military had the support of an approving society and uncritical media, which were rooted in a “colonial mentality”.

“It is evident that at all levels the Dutch undoubtedly applied different standards to colonial ‘subjects’,” reads a summary of the findings.

A representative of the Netherlands Veterans Institute criticized the latest study’s findings, saying they evoked “a feeling of discomfort and worry”.

“Veterans who served in the former Dutch East Indies are collectively put in the dock through unsubstantiated findings,” institute director Paul Hoefsloot said in a written statement.

Although the study focused on Dutch actions, it noted that Indonesian forces also used “intense” violence and killed around 6,000 people in the opening phase of the conflict, targeting Eurasians, Moluccans and other minority groups.

A banner advertising the Indonesian independence exhibition hangs outside the red brick facade of the Rijksmuseum in AmsterdamAn exhibition on Indonesia’s struggle for independence opened at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam earlier this month as part of a reckoning with its brutal colonial past [Mike Corder/AP Photo]

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