Dutch say sorry for Indonesian executions

AFP, THE HAGUE, Netherlands

Sun, Sep 01, 2013 - Page 5

The Netherlands said on Friday it will make a public apology for a series of summary executions carried out by the Dutch army in its former colony Indonesia between 1945 and 1949.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also announced that The Hague will pay 20,000 euros (US$26,000) to the widows of those killed. The Dutch ambassador in Indonesia will officially present the state’s apology at a Jakarta ceremony on Sept. 12, according to a government communique. The Hague has already apologized and paid out to the relatives of those in particular cases, but it has never said sorry and offered compensation for the victims of general summary executions.

“We are talking about the horrific events in specific cases that resulted in summary executions,” the prime minister said, but added that he would not offer an apology for the entire Dutch military actions in Indonesia.

Concerning the role of the Netherlands during the conflict that led to Indonesia’s independence, Rutte said that the words of the former Dutch foreign minister Ben Bot, who claimed that “the Netherlands found itself on the wrong side of history” during the conflict, remained the view of the government in The Hague.

Two high-profile legal actions have resulted in 20,000 euros being awarded to the relatives of some victims and a public apology for summary executions which took place on the island of Sulawesi and Rawagade village on the island of Java.

The Hague said any new legal action, which met the same criteria from relatives in Rawagade and south Sulawesi would also result in payments of 20,000 euros compensation from the Netherlands. Thousands of Indonesians were killed in the war of independence, which ended in 1949.

More than 60 years on, the role of the Netherlands during the war is a delicate subject between the two countries.