Netherlands Apologizes for 1947 Indonesia Massacre

Posted December 9th, 2011 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The Dutch government has formally apologized for the 1947 massacre of up to 430 young men and boys during Indonesia's war for independence.

The Netherlands ambassador to Indonesia, Tjeerd de Zwaan, apologized to families of the victims at a tearful ceremony on Friday in the Indonesian town of Rawagede.

“The Dutch government recently reached a settlement with the next of kin, in the hope that this will help them to close this exceedingly difficult chapter of their lives. In this context, and on behalf of the Dutch government, I apologize for the tragedy that took place in the Rawagede on the 9th of December, 1947.”

Over six decades ago, Dutch troops entered the city looking for an Indonesian resistance leader who had been carrying out attacks on Dutch forces. When villagers said they did not know his location, the men were rounded up and killed execution style.

The apology follows a Hague-based court ruling that found the Dutch state was responsible for the massacre.

Seven widows and a survivor of the massacre had brought the case to court.

One of the widows of the men said after Friday's ceremony that she no longer holds ill will against the government.

“I was angry [with the Dutch], but now not anymore. It's okay now.”

The Dutch government, which has never prosecuted anyone involved for the incident, is obliged to pay a compensation of $27,000 to nine of the victims families as part of the settlement.

Dutch officials estimate that 150 people were killed in the incident, while many Indonesians say the toll was 431.

Some Indonesian human rights activists say the Dutch apology is significant, but that it also exposes the hypocrisy of the Indonesian government, which is itself accused of human rights abuses, including the torture and killing of an estimated 500,000 communists in 1965.