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Jakarta Post

Comments on other issues: Atrocities during the colonial era

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Fri, November 13, 2015   /  08:37 am

Nov. 12, p8

The Dutch, quick to moralize human rights abuses by other nations, have never properly examined or debated the unpleasant history of their own experience in the colonial war.

Dutch society seems to suffer from collective amnesia when it comes to the murderous behavior of the soldiers who tried unsuccessfully to suppress the Indonesian independence movement in the jungles of Java and other islands almost 50 years ago.

Young conscript soldiers, acting under orders, put numerous hamlets to the torch and butchered men, women and children. In the trial, Mr. Boomsma referred to the most notorious atrocities committed by the Dutch in Indonesia over Christmas 1946 in south Celebes.

A battalion under Captain Raymond Westerling killed at least 4,000 Indonesians over a two-month period. Charges were never brought against Westerling and his men, or the military and political leaders who ordered the action. The war crimes against Indonesian villagers were committed with the direct knowledge of The Hague, at about the same time that Germany'€™s Nazi leaders were being tried in Nuremberg.

Your comments:

This letter is a prime example of avoiding the issue, which is the mass murder of up to 1 million people in Indonesia by the Soeharto regime.  

There is of course a vast difference in the Dutch killing a few thousand people in a war as compared to killing hundreds of thousands of your own people just for political gain.

Let us focus on the issue at hand and not be side-tracked by irrelevancies. The various crimes committed in the period 1942 to 1949 is an entire issue on its own, with injustices carried out by the Indonesian independence movement, the Japanese and the Dutch.


Just as a note, during the colonial era, Indonesia was ruled by the Dutch, so Dutch soldiers killed their own people for political gain as well. While the issues are different, both are serious and should be addressed accordingly.

Orang Biasa

 The Dutch killed a lot more people than 4,000 people. During the war of independence 250,000 died.

The total number of people killed during the Dutch government'€™s path to conquering the Dutch East
Indies from 1815-1910 stands between 500,000 and 1 million, when Indonesia had a population of about 30 million.

Dutch colonialism had a very bad affect on the Indonesians.  

How can Malaysia and Indonesian, separated by about 100 years of colonialism be so different?

Dutch colonization was horrible, and to dismiss its impact means that you don'€™t sufficiently give credit to the British for a relatively benevolent one in Malaysia/Singapore.

That is why the two countries have statutes of their colonizers, while the Indonesians don'€™t.

To Pramoedya Ananta Toer,  Dutch colonialism and 1965 are interlinked, they aren'€™t separate. You can say 1965 was cut off from Dutch colonial rule.  

Indonesia had the oldest communist party in Asia established in 1913.  The violent independence struggle gave birth to both Islamist and communist forces that were participants in 1965.


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