Dutch PM Mark Rutte Apologizes for Violence in Indonesian War of Independence
19 February 2022 11:08 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Amsterdam - The Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday, Feb. 17, offered a full apology to Indonesia after a historical review found the Dutch had used "excessive violence" in a vain attempt to regain control of their former colony after World War Two.
Rutte was addressing the study's findings, which said the Dutch military had engaged in systematic, excessive and unethical violence during Indonesia's 1945-1949 struggle for independence, and this had been condoned by the Dutch government and society at the time.
"We have to accept the shameful facts," Rutte said at a news conference after the findings were published.
"I make my deep apologies to the people of Indonesia today on behalf of the Dutch government."
The findings of the review, funded by the Dutch government in 2017 and conducted by academics and experts from both countries, were presented on Thursday in Amsterdam.
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 for Military History, one of more than two dozen academics who participated in the study.
"The politicians responsible turned a blind eye to this violence, just as the military, civil and legal authorities: they aided it, they concealed it, and they punished it barely or not at all," he said.
Around 100,000 Indonesians died as a direct result of the war, and although perceptions of the conflict have been changing in the Netherlands, the Dutch government had never fully examined or acknowledged the scope of its responsibility.