Heres why Rutte says sorry to Indonesia

What happened?

What exactly was between the Netherlands and Indonesia?


m sure youve already talked about the colonial era in history. Like many other European countries, the Netherlands used to have a number of colonies. Suriname, for example, was part of that and Indonesia was That is why the country was also called the Dutch East Indies. In those areas, the Dutch government was therefore the final boss.

We fast forward the history lesson to the Second World War. Japans leader worked with Hitler and wanted to expand his ideas in Asia as well. Where Germany occupied the Netherlands during that period, Japan did the same with the Dutch East Indies.

In 1945, the Second World War was over. Japan and Germany lost them and so the Japs, as the Japanese were called, were no longer the boss in the Dutch East Indies.

The Netherlands wanted to send an army to restore its own power again. But almost immediately after the Japanese left, there was another group of Indonesians on it. They had no sense at all that the Dutch were going to be in charge again and wanted to be their own country. Two days after the Japanese surrendered, the leader of this group, Soekarno, proclaimed the independence of the new Indonesia.

The Dutch government did not agree at all and so it led to a war that would last until 1949. In December of that year, the Netherlands recognized the independence of Indonesia.

Whats in the investigation?

So, the research done by a group of scientists over the past five years is about the years between the time Soekarno declared independence from Indonesia and the Netherlands really acknowledged that.

The investigation states that both the Indonesian independence fighters and the Dutch army used extreme force. But the role of the Netherlands received little attention, according to the scientists in our country itself. Thats how politicians knew about it, but they didnt really pay attention to it.

In Dutch society and in the media, too, it was not about the many and violent violence. Figures on how many victims fell were wrong on purpose. The investigation now shows that about 100,000 Indonesian civilians were killed, compared to 5000 Dutch soldiers.

The Dutch army was therefore already in Indonesia after the Second World War in order to restore power. When the country wanted to become independent, the Dutch government did not take that.

She wanted to stay in charge of it, was convinced that Soekarnos group was not good enough to be able to run a country and, according to the research, also underestimated how many Indonesians actually wanted to be independent. The researchers say that the group that wanted to do so wanted to believe much larger than the Dutch government.

As a result, the Netherlands initially also sent few military personnel. Because they were in the minority, they started using an extra amount of force.

The Dutch soldiers are accused in the investigation, among other things, of giving prisoners the death penalty without a judge having looked at it, tortured arrested opponents fiercely and picked up large groups of people without reason. The military also set fire to entire villages.

According to the investigation, soldiers who had killed or raped people in Indonesia and had to go to court in the Netherlands, often received an understanding of the judge and almost never punishment.

How to proceed now?

In 2020, King Willem-Alexander said sorry on behalf of the royal family for the many, extremely violent violence. Now that this investigation is coming out, Prime Minister Rutte is also offering his deep apologies to the people of Indonesia on behalf of the government. He also says sorry to the people who were hit by the war in the Netherlands.

He calls it a “penetrating and confrontational report.” “We have to acknowledge the embarrassing facts. This is a black page in history. Nor is it the fault of the military who were sent poorly prepared for an impossible mission. But from the government and the army leadership.”

In addition, the still living victims or their family can get money from the Dutch government as compensation.

What is going to happen further with this report, for example whether there are lawsuits or further investigations into possible war crimes, is still hard to say, experts tell.