War crimes in Indonesia, discussion with Dutch MPs


Dutch 1948 elections, VVD posterThis is a poster for the elections for the Dutch parliament in 1948. Then, a bloody colonial war was raging. Indonesia had declared its independence on 17 August 1945 (now, the Indonesian national holiday). The Dutch government, mostly consisting of the social democratic PvdA party and the Roman Catholic KVP party, did not like to officially recognize that independence because of economic interests of Dutch multinational corporations. They tried to make Indonesia a Dutch colony, the Dutch East Indies, again, with military force.

The pro-capitalist VVD (the biggest party in the present Dutch coalition government, with the PvdA as junior partner) thought the 1948 PvdA-KVP government were not using enough force. Hence, this poster.

It says: “Engineer Sukarno [the first president of Indonesia]. The Republic of Indonesia. Do you have enough of it [in the sense of Are you sick of it] as well? Vote then for party #6 on the ballot paper, VVD, Mr. Oud. Socialism [meaning the PvdA ministers in the government] protects Communism in the Indies. This must change!” In this VVD propaganda, supporting independence for Indonesia supposedly automatically made one a communist. Even if, like President Sukarno, one was not a member of the Indonesian communist party, but of the nationalist PNI party. Or of some other of the many Indonesian parties supporting independence. Or not a member of any party. That is why the VVD depicted Sukarno with a communist hammer and sickle symbol on his hat.

Not only were supporters of Indonesian independence all communists according to VVD logic. Politicians like PvdA Prime Minister Willem Drees wanted to use some military violence to make Indonesia an obedient colony, but not as much violence as the VVD would like. Among the rank and file PvdA members and voters there was much opposition against the colonial war; Drees did not want his party to break apart by giving in 100% to the most extreme colonialist hardliners. That, according to the VVD poster, made Drees, though not officially a communist, a ‘protector of communism’.

One thing is noteworthy in this election poster. It mentions the Republic of Indonesia, proclaimed on 17 August 1945. The VVD mentioned it as something that people were supposedly sick of; as something which military violence should destroy. But they had to recognize it had not been destroyed yet; it existed. So, in a paradoxical way, a recognition of the Indonesian proclamation of independence. The Dutch government had already de facto recognized the Republic of Indonesia in the Linggajati agreement in 1946.

That is an important point, as later Dutch governments refused to recognize the 1945 Indonesian proclamation of independence. If they would do that, they would have to recognize they had waged a war of aggression against a sovereign state. A crime according to international law.

International law not only calls wars of aggression crimes. Eg, killing civilians without any trial is a war crime. In 1945-1949, Dutch forces in Indonesia repeatedly committed such crimes.

On 9 October, a delegation of pro-human rights Indonesians, arrived for the occasion from Indonesia or living in the Netherlands, went to the Dutch parliament building in The Hague. There, they met two MPs: Harry van Bommel of the Socialist Party, and Angelien Eijsink of the PvdA party.

As the spokesperson of the delegation, Batara Hutagalung, said: the aim of the delegation is not revenge. It is reconciliation between Indonesia and the Netherlands. However, that reconciliation should be based on dignity and truth about war crimes. Which, if covered up, would continue to damage the future.

In a later blog post, I will write about the discussion with the two members of parliament.

1946 Dutch strike against colonial war in Indonesia: here.

15 thoughts on “War crimes in Indonesia, discussion with Dutch MPs

  1. Not only the Dutch are guilty of war crimes in the 1940s, against the Indonesians, we now see in Papua, Indonesia committing crimes against these people, it is as if when a power arises, humans act in a similar fashion.

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  2. Pingback: Dutch war crimes in Indonesia, discussion with MPs | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Dutch is a coward nation.it’s proven by history that their damned queen escaped to great britain,while our president didn’t when dutch occupied yogya.i was thinking why didn’t you fight nazi germany as brave as you fought indonesia people,you sick coward people?you could only relly on British or American.

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  4. It is a misfortune that not only the Dutch are guilty of atrocities but all the European Nations, who have become so prevalent, because they had and still do have the biggest guns, most of the human race seems to have a flaw inherited, that they have as yet to overcome this weakness within.
    It is controversial as to whether the present climate of culture will do irreparable harm to the planet and people, the legacy and gift of ours for future generations.
    What I know is those who have been harmed do not recover in their lifetime from the scars, they are permanent, but little awareness is given to this aberration as its not what the controlling authorities desire or want to hear as this is not serving their interests.

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  15. 26 september, Amsterdam: vakbondscafé over de massastaking tegen troepenzendingen naar Indonesië in 1946

    “Op donderdagavond 26 september houden we een vakbondscafé in Amsterdam over een historische gebeurtenis die plaatsvond op 24 september 1946. Een grote staking vond toen plaats tegen de troepenzendingen naar voormalig Nederlands-Indië dat zich net onafhankelijk had verklaard tot de republiek Indonesië. Een staking die belangrijke overeenkomsten vertoont met de Februaristaking. Veel mensen weten dat niet meer. Het was een belangrijke gebeurtenis. In de jaren die erop zouden volgen tot aan de definitieve onafhankelijkheid van Indonesië bleef deze oorlog die meerdere jaren duurde een zeer belangrijk thema. Wat veel mensen ook niet meer weten, is dat er geen meerderheid was onder de Nederlandse bevolking voor deze troepenzendingen die uiteindelijk een koloniale oorlog zouden inluiden. Zo kort na de Tweede Wereldoorlog en met het verslaan van het fascisme was er een grote bereidheid om zich daartegen te verzetten”, aldus de oproep. Donderdag 26 september. Van 19:30 uur (inloop 19:00 uur) FNV Regionaal Vakbondshuis, Derkinderenstraat 2-8, Amsterdam. Lees meer: https://www.doorbraak.eu/26-september-amsterdam-vakbondscafe-over-de-massastaking-tegen-troepenzendingen-naar-indonesie-in-1946/

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