Less than two weeks after the Netherlands apologized for executions committed in Sulawesi and elsewhere in the 1940s — as part of a legal settlement that included the payment of 20,000 euros ($27,000) to widows of the victims — activists now say the lawsuit is not over. Five children of people shot dead will also file for damages in the Netherlands.
A press release by the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts (KUKB), which campaigns on behalf of victims of Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia, says that people who lost their fathers to executions were affected just as directly as people who lost their husbands and should also receive financial compensation.
“Although the State reached a settlement with the 10 widows in [the Sulawesi] case this past summer, it relies on prescription pertaining to the children,” the statement says.
“However, according to the District Court of The Hague, relying on prescription where it concerns persons who have been affected ‘directly’ by this kind of summary executions is ‘unacceptable;’ the court so found in 2011, pertaining to the surviving relatives of a similar massacre in the Javanese village of Rawagede.”
In the case of Rawagede, now known as Balongsari in West Java, male villagers were lined up and executed by Dutch soldiers in 1947. A judge ruled in 2011 that the statute of limitations did not apply and ordered the Netherlands to pay damages.
Ambassador Tjeerd de Zwaan said in Jakarta on Sept. 12 that the Dutch government “is aware that it bears a special responsibility in respect of Indonesian widows of victims of summary executions comparable to those carried out by Dutch troops in what was then South Celebes [Sulawesi] and Rawagede.”
“On behalf of the Dutch government, I apologize for these excesses,” De Zwaan said, while also announcing a special regulation drawn up so that other women whose husbands were executed could receive 20,000 euros in compensation. This regulation, which allows relatives of victims to settle out of court, does not apply to children of people who were executed.
The 1946-47 massacres in Sulawesi were part of a campaign to restore Dutch colonial rule after Indonesia declared its independence in 1945. The Special Forces unit of Capt. Raymond Westerling summarily executed at least 1,500 people suspected of anti-Dutch activity. JG