Panel finds Dutch used excessive violence during Indonesia’s War of Independence

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte walk during their meeting at the presidential palace in Bogor, Indonesia October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan/File Photo

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  • The Netherlands never fully acknowledged the violence of 1945-1949
  • The Dutch Prime Minister will respond later on Thursday
  • Panel of Dutch and Indonesian experts presenting their findings

AMSTERDAM, Feb 17 (Reuters) – A major historical study has revealed that the Dutch military engaged in systematic, excessive and unethical violence during Indonesia’s struggle for independence from 1945 to 1949 , and that the Dutch government at the time had tolerated it.

The findings of the review, funded by the Dutch government in 2017 and conducted by academics and experts from both countries, were presented at a press conference on Thursday, after the main findings were leaked on Wednesday evening.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government is expected to respond later on Thursday.

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That the Netherlands used excessive force as it waged an escalating hopeless war to regain control of its former colony in the period immediately following World War II is no surprise more than 70 years later. late.

The report also notes that Indonesian forces also used “intense” violence as they waged guerrilla warfare and initially targeted Indo-Dutch and Moluccan minority groups.

However, the Dutch government has never fully considered or acknowledged the extent of its liability. In 2013, the Dutch ambassador to Indonesia issued an apology for summary executions, and during a 2020 visit King Willem-Alexander issued a surprise apology for “excessive violence” during the conflict.

In October 2020, the Dutch government announced it would offer 5,000 euros ($5,600) compensation to children of Indonesians who had been executed during the conflict, following a 2013 settlement with widows.

The countries now enjoy strong economic ties, but the war remains a sensitive topic among victims and veterans. By 1969, the Dutch government had found that its forces had, on the whole, behaved well during the conflict.

But in reality, “the Dutch armed forces have resorted to extreme violence on a frequent and structural basis, in the form of extrajudicial executions, ill-treatment and torture, detention in inhumane conditions, burning of houses and of villages, theft and destruction of property and food supplies, air raids and disproportionate artillery fire, and what was often random mass arrests and internments,” the new report says in a summary of his findings.

He noted that the military actions were carried out in close consultation with the Dutch government, with the support of an approving society and uncritical media, all steeped in a “colonial mentality”.

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

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Reporting by Toby Sterling Editing by Peter Graff

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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