Dutch war crimes in Indonesia, new evidence

Dutch war crime in Indonesia. photo: city archive Enschede

Translated from Dutch history site Historiek.net:

“Biff bang bow. Within two minutes they were all dead”

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

A year ago the Volkskrant daily published pictures of an execution in the Dutch East Indies. The unknown images were photographed during the Dutch army’s “police actions“, but much could not be told then about the actual execution. However, an 87-year-old veteran has said now to daily NRC Handelsblad that he was then a witness to that execution. The Indonesians in the picture were executed by a Dutch lieutenant, he says.

Last year, there was a lot to do about the pictures, because for the first time they showed that during the Dutch police actions there were summary executions. Experts of the NIOD [Dutch Institute for War Documentation] and the Dutch Institute for Military History (NIMH) concluded that these were unique pictures. However, where and why the execution had taken place was not known. The photos were taken by a soldier from Enschede who served as a conscript in the Dutch East Indies. This veteran is now deceased.

It now turns out that 87-year-old veteran Harry Nouwen was a witness to the execution, which he says took place in 1949 in the village Gedong Tataan in the province of South Sumatra. In NRC Handelsblad he reports that his lieutenant executed thirteen or fourteen men in retaliation for an ambush. The men had to sit with their hands in their necks in a ditch for this.

Harry Nouwen: “Biff bang bow. Within two minutes they were all dead”.

The veteran, who was a telegrapher, never spoke about the incident because he had sworn an oath to keep army secrets. That he is breaking the silence now, he says, is because of the photos published last year in the Volkskrant. That brought everything back. Nouwen says that it happened more often that his unit killed prisoners of war. …

The Veterans Institute has also spoken with Nouwen and say they have no reason to doubt the authenticity of his story.

Major research

Last year, the directors of three research institutes advocated a major new study of the military actions of the Netherlands in the former Dutch East Indies in the years 1945-1949.

Save Indonesia’s Sumatran orangutans

From Avaaz.org:

Dear friends,


It’s the last place on Earth where endangered orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants roam free together. But mining companies and big agriculture want to rip the rainforest to shreds. If a million people call on Indonesia’s President to silence the chainsaws in the next three days, we can save this precious habitat. Sign now:

I live and work in the last place on Earth where endangered orangutans, rhinos, elephants, and tigers still roam together — but it’ll be bulldozed to bits unless our President hears our call and steps in to save this unique habitat.

Right now in one of Indonesia’s most pristine and untouched forests, a local Governor wants to let mining and palm oil companies move in to decimate areas the size of a million football fields! And the national Forestry Ministry looks like it might let him unless the President steps in to reject this orangutan-killing plan.

We know the President wants to be seen as a keen conservationist, but we need to tell him his green reputation and possible future UN aspirations are on the line to ensure he does the right thing. We need to act fast — sign the urgent petition and tell everyone about this mortal threat to our majestic forest. If a million people sign in the next 3 days, I’ll ensure the President hears us:


I know these forests well — I’ve been working as a conservation manager here since 2007, and received the Future for Nature Award 2013 for my work protecting large mammals in Sumatra, especially rhinos. This place holds the largest biodiversity in all of the Asia Pacific region, and parts of it are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. But this new mining company-backed plan would lay waste to much of it, and would also threaten local communities with deadly landslides and flash floods! And if their habitat is destroyed it could decimate the last few orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos.

Two years ago, the President set up a national task force on deforestation, and signed a two-year logging moratorium after out of control slash and burn logging landed Indonesia in the global news as one of the top greenhouse gas emitters in the world. Thankfully, reports say the President has agreed to renew the moratorium this week, which has been a life insurance policy for so many critically endangered species. But even with the renewal, the Governor of Aceh could still rezone broad swathes of the rainforest for logging unless the President intervenes. The President has only a year and a half left in office, with some saying he’s hoping to transition into a top job at the United Nations, and we just want him to stick to his word. “Forests are so dear to my heart … losing our tropical rainforests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster,” our president told other world leaders at a recent conference.

Mega-palm oil companies would love nothing more than to rip these trees from the ground, and the East Asia Minerals Corporation, based in Canada, was just found working behind the scenes to push through this plan! Countries like mine have a right to develop, but not at the expense of our priceless natural patrimony, and it should benefit, not harm, Indonesians.

Let’s tell the President there is an easy solution — step in to stop this forest-killing plan. Sign now and tell everyone — we don’t have long before the mining company invasion. Then if you’re on Twitter, send our Twitter-loving President a direct message after you sign:


As an Avaaz member I’ve seen this community come together to protect forests and critically endangered species, from the Amazon in Ecuador and Brazil to elephants and rhinos threatened by poaching. Now it’s Indonesia’s turn — join us in saving this magical forest.

With hope,

Rudi Putra in Indonesia, with the whole Avaaz team

PS – Many Avaaz campaigns are started by members of our community! Start yours now and win on any issue – local, national or global: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?bgMYedb&v=23917


Indonesia Moves Towards Approving Deforestation Plan in Aceh (Jakarta Globe)

Mining company working with Indonesian government to strip forest of protected status (The Guardian)

Govt to extend forestry moratorium over business objections: Deputy Minister (Jakarta Post)

President Yudhoyono promises to dedicate the next three years to protecting Indonesia’s forests (REDD monitor)

Conservation scientists: Aceh’s spatial plan a risk to forests, wildlife, and people (Mongabay)

Indonesia’s Protected Rainforests Disappearing (Huffington Post)

Aceh draft bylaw risks forests, say activists (Jakarta Post)

Rudi H. Putra: Winner 2013 Future For Nature

Photographs taken using camera traps have revealed that orangutans spend more time on the ground than previously thought. Since orangutans tend to stay up in the trees when humans are present, scientists who observed orangutans in the past have a distorted view of how much time the apes spend on the ground: here.

The expansion of palm oil plantations into Tesso Nilo National Park needs to be stopped immediately to improve the credibility of Indonesia’s palm oil industry: here.

Sumatran tiger twins born, video

In the night of 4-5 May 2013, two Sumatran tigers were born in Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem, the Netherlands.

This video shows their birth.

This video is about adult tigers at that zoo.

Researchers discover human activity threatens Sumatran tiger population: here.

July 2013. Sumatran tigers, found exclusively on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, are on the brink of extinction. By optimistic estimates, perhaps 400 individuals survive. But the exact the number and locations of the island’s dwindling tiger population has been up for debate: here.

Sumatran Tiger Cubs Born At Smithsonian’s National Zoo Are Totally Adorable (PHOTOS, VIDEO): here.

Indonesian prehistoric archaeological discoveries

This December 2014 video says about itself:

Did Humans Make These Ancient Cave Paintings? Or was it Neanderthals? This question and others tantalize researchers investigating early paintings in some of Europe’s caves. The paintings date back to a time when Neanderthals and early modern humans lived side by side.

By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer:

66 Ancient Skeletons Found in Indonesian Cave

Date: 22 April 2013 Time: 12:55 PM ET

Talk about your archaeological jackpots: Researchers in Indonesia have reportedly discovered the 3,000-year-old remains of 66 people in a cave in Sumatra.

“Sixty-six is very strange,” Truman Simanjuntak of Jakarta’s National Research and Development Center for Archaeology said in a statement. He and his colleagues have never before found that many remains in a single cave, Simanjuntak added.

The cave is known as Harimaru or Tiger Cave, and also contains chicken, dog and pig remains. Thousands of years ago, the Tiger Cave and other limestone caverns nearby were occupied by Indonesia’s first farmers. They used the caves to bury their dead, explaining the 3,000-year-old cemetery unearthed by Simanjuntak’s team. The ancient farmers also manufactured tools in the caves.

And they apparently made art. Tiger Cave contains the first evidence of rock art from Sumatra, Simanjuntak said. And the cave is only partially excavated.

“There are still occupation traces deeper and deeper in the cave, where we have not excavated yet,” he said. “So it means the cave is very promising.”

The dates of the discoveries so far peg the cave’s occupation to a time when the Earth’s entire population was only about 50 million. The Zhou dynasty ruled China, and ancient Egypt’s prosperous New Kingdom era, during which Tutankamun reigned, was nearing its end. Though a first for Sumatra, the newly discovered rock art is brand-new by archaeological standards: The oldest rock art known is found in France and dates back 37,000 years.

Hands Across Time: Exploring the Rock Art of Borneo: here.

Prehistoric rock art, including scratchings of a half-man/half-lizard, has been found in the province of Papua Barat, Indonesia.

Lene Hara Cave (Timor) and other rock art: here.

Endangered Sumatran rhino rediscovery in Indonesian Borneo

This video says about itself:

A rhino love story by David Attenborough

Jan 31, 2013

This piece is from the Natural World Special film: Attenborough’s Ark, where David Attenborough considers 10 unusual species he would like to save from extinction.

Number two on the list is the smallest of the rhino family, the Sumatran Rhino – critically endangered with numbers in the wild estimated around 200. We filmed the efforts of a Sumatran conservation rebreeding programme, who in June 2012 successfully bred the first ever captive born Sumatran Rhino in Sumatra. This is their story.

From Wildlife Extra:

Critically Endangered Sumatran Rhino rediscovered in Indonesian Borneo

WWF team find footprints of rhinos on Borneo

March 2013. A WWF team on the island of Borneo to monitor [the] Orang-utan population have discovered what they believe to be the footprints of a critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros, where it was believed that the rhino had been extinct for some time.

The WWF staff were monitoring a population of orang-utans in West Kutai district of East Kalimantan. Having discovered the footprints, they conducted a further survey of the area along with government forestry officials and scientists from a local university. The survey discovered further footprints, and some horn scratches at mud holes, as well as trees used as rubbing posts and bite marks on plants, raising the possibility that there may be more than one lone animal, though numbers remain unclear.

The Sumatran rhino was believed to have been extinct in Indonesian Borneo since the 1990s; and fewer than 200 animals exist anywhere in the world in the wild, still living in the wild in Indonesia and Malaysia.

According to the WWF: Current population & distribution

The Borneo Sumatran rhino is now possibly extinct in Sarawak (Malaysia) and Kalimantan (Indonesia), with perhaps fewer than 25 surviving in Sabah (Malaysia). A 2005 survey in the interior of Sabah found evidence of at least 13 rhinos, and scattered individuals are found in other parts of the state.

Read more about the Sumatran rhino on the WWF website.

Indonesian and Malaysian governments agree to work together to save Sumatran rhino: here.

July 2013. “Harapan,” a six-year-old male Sumatran rhino born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2007 and later moved zoos in Florida and Los Angeles Zoo, was returned to Cincinnati in July in an effort to help save his rapidly disappearing species from extinction. With no more than 100 Sumatran rhinos left on the planet and only two in the USA (Harapan and his sister, nine-year-old “Suci”), this move demonstrates just how desperate the effort to save this species has become: here.

Talking about Indonesian Borneo: March 2013. Pulp timber suppliers to controversial paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) are continuing to log tropical forest and dig drainage canals through peat soils in Kalimantan, regardless of the new Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) launched with much fanfare by APP and parent group Sinar Mas last month: here.

A proposed coal road through the Harapan Rainforest in Sumatra could undo almost a decade of good work by the BirdLife Partnership, acting with the support of the Indonesian Government: here.

Rare Sumatran mammal, video

Focusing on Wildlife writes about this video:

Rare, strange mammal caught on camera in Sumatra

March 11, 2013

A video camera trap expedition into ’s Leuser ecosystem has captured a rarely-seen, bizarre mammal on tape. The () is a goat-antelope found both on Sumatra and mainland Southeast Asia. Rarely seen and little-studied, the animals inhabit highland areas.

Sumatran serow

Sumatran serow at Dusit Zoo, Bangkok, .

“Serows seem to be rare creatures, we only filmed two individuals. But they might still be common in Leuser’s high and remote corners,” Marten Slothouwer, who is running the expedition, told mongabay.com, noting that there is little information on the species.

The Sumatran serow is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List; it is threatened by deforestation and hunting. The species is one of six serows found across East Asia. “In Sumatra they have been photographed in several areas and people in Leuser do like their meat, but it’s not something widely that’s available,” Slothouwer says.

Eyes on Leuser has managed to capture over 40 species on video, many of them rarely seen or recorded, in some of the last forests of Sumatra.

Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0305-hance-sumatran-serow-video.html.

Rupert Murdoch endangers Indonesian wildlife

This video is called Protecting Indonesia‘s ancient rainforest and the Sumatran tiger.

From Reuters:

News Corp publisher’s books linked to paper from endangered rainforests: RAN

By Michael Taylor

JAKARTA | Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:15am EST

HarperCollins, a division of News Corp,

owned by Rupert Murdoch, of phone hacking, police bribing, burglary, and warmongering fame

has been accused by a conservation group of using materials sourced from Indonesia’s endangered rainforests.

Independent forensic fiber tests commissioned by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), showed that some of HarperCollins’ children’s books were printed with rainforest fiber.

Indonesia has some of the world’s most biologically diverse forests and is home to endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger.

“No child or parent should become an unwitting participant in rainforest destruction this holiday season,” said Robin Averbeck, a forest campaigner at RAN.

Averbeck called on HarperCollins not to do business with Indonesian paper firms Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) and Asia Pulp and Paper Co Ltd (APP). APP has been accused by other green groups of destroying rainforests.

Officials at APP declined to comment. Officials at HarperCollins and APRIL did not respond to multiple telephone calls and emails from Reuters seeking comment.

APP and APRIL “are indeed the main culprits here and it’s good to be clear about that, but as they have not proven very responsive to direct pressure, we are forced to go after their customers to get them to take rainforest destruction seriously and HarperCollins is the sole major U.S. publisher remaining who has not made a firm commitment to stop doing business with them,” RAN spokesman Laurel Sutherlin said.

“Most people have never heard of these companies and do not realize they are buying products produced by them, but they do recognize companies like Disney and HarperCollins who are supporting their destructive business practices by purchasing from them.”

APP operates under the Sinar Mas brand, as does palm oil giant Sinar Mas Agro Resources & Technology, which has in the past been accused by Greenpeace of bulldozing high conservation value forests and damaging carbon-rich peatlands.

APRIL in October disputed many of the accusations against it said it does not source illegally harvested wood and does not source wood from high conservation value forests.

The Rainforest Action Network said HarperCollins lagged other U.S. publishers like Walt Disney Co, the world’s biggest publisher of children’s books, when it came to instituting corporate programs to help protect the world’s rainforests.

In October, Disney changed its purchasing policies to reduce paper use and avoid paper harvested from endangered forests.

Indonesia is seen as a key player in the fight against climate change and is under intense international pressure to curb deforestation and the destruction of carbon-rich peatlands.

Last year, Greenpeace said it had evidence that Barbie doll packaging came from Indonesian rainforests, accusing toy manufacturers such as Mattel Inc and Walt Disney of contributing to Indonesia’s deforestation.

Forests in the archipelago have also come under threat from the expanding palm oil industry in recent years, which green groups also blame for deforestation, speeding up climate change and destroying wildlife.

Indonesia is the world’s top producer of palm oil, used mainly as an ingredient in food such as biscuits and ice cream and as a biofuel.

To improve its green credentials, Indonesia signed a two-year forest moratorium in May last year, although critics say breaches still occur.

(Editing by Matt Driskill)

February 2013. Greenpeace has hailed the new commitment from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) to end deforestation as a major breakthrough in efforts to save Indonesia’s rainforests, after a decade of public pressure and recent negotiations with Greenpeace: here.

Attention Holiday Shoppers: HarperCollins is Grinding up Rainforests to Make its Kids’ Books: here.

Wild Sumatran tiger cubs video

Wildlife Extra writes about this video:

Sumatran tiger cubs caught on video in Sumatran forest

First footage of Sumatran tigress and her cubs in Sembilang National Park, Indonesia.

November 2012. Two wild tiger cubs have been caught on camera in the Sumatran forest – the first ever footage captured of young tigers in a previously unexplored National Park.

Conservationists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have spent four years in Berbak National Park, studying tigers using camera traps in known tiger spots. But it isn’t until now that they’ve monitored the neighbourhood region of Sembilang, and discovered evidence of breeding in this protected area.

Just 300 Sumatran tigers left alive in the wild

The footage of these big cats shows the mother casually walking past the camera, closely followed by her youngsters, who are thought to be less than a year old. A rare occurrence considering there are only around 300 of the endangered wild animals left in the world, as they remain under great threat from poaching and human destruction of their habitat.

ZSL’s head of regional conservation programmes, Sarah Christie says: “This is the best early Christmas present, and we are absolutely delighted to find the first evidence of breeding in Sembilang. We will continue working with leaders of both national parks as well as the government to ensure the areas are better protected and well patrolled,” Sarah added.

Dr. Dolly Priatna, ZSL’s Indonesia country manager added: “This is a key area for Sumatran tigers. If they are saved, everything connected to them is also saved, including the Asia’s last great forests, whose carbon storage alleviates climate change.”

18 million-acre peat forest

Indonesia’s 18 million-acre peat forests are about 50 times the size of London, and make up almost 70% of the world’s tropical carbon stores. If deforestation is discouraged, and Sumatran tigers protected, the carbon storage from these forests is also saved, which will have a vast effect on climate change.

Head of Sembilang National Park, Mr. Tatang says: “This footage highlights that Sembilang National Park is now doubly important for Indonesia; not only is it a major carbon sink, but also a critical habitat for tigers in Southern Sumatra. These data will help us ensure the Berbak-Sembilang area is prioritised for protection.”

As well as the brand new footage of tiger cubs, camera traps have also captured tigers in Berbak as well as tapirs and sunbears.

Sembilang and Berbak National Parks form a single tiger conservation landscape and are one of the very few areas left in the world capable of holding viable tiger populations. The data will support ZSL in working alongside the Indonesian government to improve the protection of this area and conservation of this endangered species.

Banks, stop funding Indonesian forest destruction corporation

This video is called Protecting Indonesia‘s Ancient Rainforest and the Sumatran Tiger.

From the WWF:

Banks and funds put on notice on Sumatra pulp mill investment risk

14 November 2012

Banks and other financial institutions have been asked for assurances they will not provide investment support to Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) plans for additional pulping capacity in already massively deforested Sumatra.

A letter to financial institutions, signed by 60 environmental and social non-governmental organisations, highlights that APP’s record on keeping promises to investors is as bad as its record on keeping to a series of commitments to abandon its assault on native forests housing critically endangered Sumatran tigers and elephants.

“We believe that potential investors should be as concerned with APPs practices as the major companies no longer buying paper and packaging materials from the company,” said WWF International Forest Programme director Rod Taylor.

“If potential reputational risk is not enough, alarm bells should ring over the company’s default on nearly $US14 billion of debt in 2001 and the company’s current conduct in US courts over meeting obligations to some of its former investors.”

APP’s new mill would produce between 1.5 and 2.0 million tonnes per year of bleached hardwood pulp, making it the largest single pulp line in the world. Respected Sumatra NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest has estimated that APP and supplier companies have already pulped more than two million hectares of natural rainforests in Riau province Sumatra alone.

The letter highlights APP’s failures to honor environmental covenants given during restructuring of some of its debt and to the continuing loss of major customers (such as Disney, Hasbro, Mattel, Unilever, Nestle, Danone, Xerox, Mondi) as a result of concerns about its deforestation practices, community conflict and business and reputational risks to buyers.

“Indonesia is a potentially promising place to conduct investment in pulp and paper, with its humid climate and year-long sunlight which enables pulp wood to mature much quicker compared to subtropical countries, unfortunately this is being brought into disrepute by the destructive practises of APP which continues to rely on natural forest clearing for its pulp supply,” said WWF Indonesia’s Conservation Director, Nazir Foead.

The letter to banks and other financial institutions is here.

Rare Sumatran striped rabbit photographed

This video from Indonesia says about itself:

26 November 2008

The Sumatran Striped Rabbit (Nesolagus netscheri), also known as the Sumatra Short-eared Rabbit or Sumatran Rabbit, is a rabbit found only in forest in the Barisan Mountains in western Sumatra, Indonesia.

It is listed as a critically endangered species — its rarity may be due to deforestation and habitat loss.

The rabbit is usually about 40 cm (1 ft, 4 in) long. It is gray with brown stripes, with a red tail and rump, and the underside is white. It lives in forests at altitudes of 600-1400 metres. It is nocturnal, resting in the burrows of other animals. It usually eats the stalk and leaves of understory plants, but captive rabbits ate grain, and tropical fruits.

Sightings of the species have only been reported three times since 1972, most recently in late January 2007 in a photograph taken with a camera trap installed in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.

ScienceDaily (May 25, 2012) — Using camera traps, wildlife researchers including doctoral candidate Jennifer McCarthy and environmental conservation professor Todd Fuller of the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently captured photographs of one of the rarest animals on earth, the Sumatran striped rabbit. They say it may now be found only in two remote national parks on the Indonesian island: here.

One of South Africa’s most endangered mammals – the Riverine Rabbit: here.

USA: A rabbit named after Playboy publishing magnate Hugh Hefner is dying out primarily due to sea level rise, a new study concludes: here.