Translated from Dutch NOS TV:
Indonesian claims compensation from the Netherlands for torture
In the court in The Hague a 90-year-old Indonesian says he was tortured by Dutch soldiers in the former Dutch East Indies in 1947. He claims 50,000 euros compensation from the Dutch government.
The man named Yasman himself is not present in The Hague. The trial goes through a Skype link with a court on Java. The case was instituted by the Dutch Ereschulden Foundation.
It is the first time that an Indonesian charges the Dutch state for torture in former Dutch East Indies. The state has already paid damages for executions and rapes during the Dutch military actions there, but so far not (yet) for torture. That makes the case important, says lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld who defends Yasman.
The torture is said to have occurred in 1947, in the first military campaign of the Netherlands to stop Indonesian independence.
Zegveld: “The man was in training at the Indonesian army at that time, was detained and imprisoned in a sugar factory in east Java near Kebon Agung, was tortured there, beaten with sticks on his head, cigarettes burned on his skin and he has been electrocuted. That way he has been imprisoned for thirteen months.”
Whether Yasman’s story is correct is difficult to determine because there is no evidence, Zegveld acknowledges. “That’s why it is so important for the court to hear the man. It depends very much on his statement, but his story is quite detailed, and his sister says he was gone for a long time. When he returned, he was greatly famished. May be that all is enough.”
“There is not much more available, but his story is useful in the context of the [so-called as euphemism] police actions when violence was used.” The term ‘police actions’ describes the Dutch military actions in Indonesia.
The Dutch state acknowledged that the places where Yasman said he had been imprisoned were indeed prisons. The Red Cross has also written reports stating that in those places things happened “incorrectly”.
The purpose of today’s hearing is to hear Yasman’s story. If the court continues with the case, then, according to Zegveld, an expert will go to Indonesia to look at the man’s injuries.
He must then judge whether the dents on his skull and the burns on his skin are indeed the result of the abuse in the 1940’s.