The “apologies” of the Netherlands to Indonesia

This is a quick post. I do part from memory, as I am pissed off and did not plan to write this as this is not the first time the Netherlands “aplogizes” without acknowledging the full scope of consequences of their “rule” since the new

From Al Jazeera:

The Dutch government has formally apologised for the mass killing of Indonesians during colonial occupation which ended in 1949.

The Dutch ambassador in Indonesia, Tjeerd de Zwaan, officially presented the state’s apology at a Jakarta ceremony on Thursday.

“On behalf of the Dutch government I apologise for these excesses,” De Zwaan said.

The Netherlands had already apologised and paid compensation in certain specific cases, but this was the first general apology for atrocities carried out during the colonial era.

“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 Celebes (Sulawesi) and Rawa Gede (West Java),” De Zwaan added.

The strange thing is that it seems to take Dutch government like forever to apologize to the Indonesia for the atrocious shit (including white-washed enslavement and the systematic process of dehuminazation that goes with that slavery) they caused for at least 180 years in the past. And I wonder if they ever paid back and/or nullified the “debt” Indonesia paid to The Netherlands for being occupied and claiming back their own country.

“You owe us”

Negotiations over the internal and external debts of the Dutch East Indies colonial administration were protracted, with each side presenting their own calculations and arguing over whether the United States of Indonesia should be responsible for debts incurred by the Dutch after their surrender to the Japanese in 1942. In particular the Indonesian delegations were indignant at having to cover what it saw as the costs of Dutch military action against [Indonesia] it . Finally, thanks to the intervention of the US member of the UN Commission on Indonesia, the Indonesian side came to realize that agreeing to pay part of the Dutch debt would be the price they would have to pay for the transfer of sovereignty. On October 24, the Indonesian delegations agreed that Indonesia would take over approximately 4.3 billion Guilders of Dutch East Indies government debt.

In brief: we probably talk about revenues not gained from the Dutch exploitation of Indonesia and the Indonesian population after 1942. This whole thing is so incredibly wrong it actually infuriated me when I read it the first two times.

  1. You get occupied by the Japanese people (leading to the deaths of millions of your people)
  2. The Dutch “colonists” lose revenue due to this new situation
  3. The war is over
  4. A new war is waged against you by the Dutch, costing .5 Billion Guilders to the Dutch and leading up to roughly 100.000 deaths on your side, from bombings of villages and millitary murders on your families and friends
  6. The Dutch sue you and force you to pay a shitload of money due to this twisted state of affairs
  7. You remember quite well from your own history that the Dutch forcefully occupied, raped and plundered your country for over a century until then

I say: fuck you, Dutch Government. And I think: where have we seen this kind of sociopath, self-centered reasoning before; where reality is twisted so the violator becomes the victim? (The answer: from rape apologists).

Dutch apologies and “The European civilized world”

When you talk about “growing beyond an emperialist and racist state”, this slow process of “apologies” and “retribution” is not really an example of “internal civilization” as stated in the news article here (Dutch).

Below I put down some thoughts related to the incredible bullshit of using the word “excess” when you can clearly address specific topics like: slavery, oppression, theft, murder, rape and war crimes. Sure you: “don’t want to rip open old wounds”, but an apology that does not address the exact things you apologize for is not an apology. It is a way to derail the situation so you get scott-free and never really have to take responsibility on the things your predecessors did in the past.

Nothing learned. Nothing gained. Hands are washed in semi-innocense. All remains the same.

World War Zero: Yay! for building the Empire!

From 1800 on it became fashionable in Europe to have an Empire. Having an Empire apparently meant — amongst other things — that you would send your armies to befriended countries and continents, wage some war, kill a shitload of people, overthrow the government and occupy the land under your (parasitic) rule: to claim them as your “colony”.

Part of this chain of actions, which we might as well call World War Zero: waged by several European countries against the rest of the world, was the deliberate occupation by the Netherlands of their “trading grounds” in Indonesia.

Money and slave labor for the grabs

The idea behind the massive invasions into foreign territory was (very likely) that massive revenues could be gained by subjecting previous trade partners into “subjects under colonial rule”.

As Europe had developed a perfect system to deny the humanity and human rights of “others” in the centuries before: using “science” to deny the existence of any form of civilization in non-European regions, it was not hard for the European “ruler” to create and apply new systems of oppression abroad, turning entire populations into cheap labor forces without any human rights.

“Savages”: applying the image you project

Interesting enough, the image we used to describe non-European civilizations as “savage” and “barbaric” helped European empires to apply savage and barbaric European measures to the countries they occupied.

The European depiction of non-European countries reflected quite accurate the agenda and mentality those same European countries had in store for the countries and regions they would invade and occupy.

Dutch “ruling” in Indonesia led to slavery, murder and dispossession of most, of not all, of that region. No doubt women were raped, people murdered without any trial.

Had we projected non-European civilizations and non-European people as “human” and “equal to ourselves”, the enslavery would have led to more protest within our own countries. Were it not that European “rulers” already installed a similar system in Europe itself, deeming the internal population of the working class as disposable people without any clear rights.

The Netherlands was no exception in this.

Dutch occupation or: “Taking over possessions”

As is the case when you describe history from your (Eurocentric) point of view, words like “occupation” and “oppression” are avoided and we use words like “rule” and “taking over possessions” (Wikipedia). This is an impression of the first period of Dutch “rule” from 1812 on.

After the VOC was dissolved in 1800 following bankruptcy, and after a short British rule under Thomas Stamford Raffles, the Dutch state took over the VOC possessions in 1816. A Javanese uprising was crushed in the Java War of 1825–1830. After 1830 a system of forced cultivations and indentured labour was introduced on Java, the Cultivation System (in Dutch: cultuurstelsel). This system brought the Dutch and their Indonesian collaborators enormous wealth. The cultivation system tied peasants to their land, forcing them to work in government-owned plantations for 60 days of the year. The system was abolished in a more liberal period after 1870. In 1901 the Dutch adopted what they called the Ethical Policy, which included somewhat increased investment in indigenous education, and modest political reforms.

“Pacification” of the population

From 1800 on, the Netherlands changed politics, probably leading to an increase of atrocities to “pacify” the population in the century that followed. The documentation I read is from the end of 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s.

Apparently and accordingly to sources I read a while ago, the way the Boers “pacified” the population in South Africa around the first Boer wars (1888-1881) inspired both England and the Netherlands in using new ways to suppress uprisings and protest. The method was quite simple:

You kill every man, woman and child in the village until the spirit of resistance is broken.

From 1880 on, the Netherlands used this method in i.e. the province of Kuteh, sending Dutch commanders and Indonesian soldiers form different regions to murder the people who disagreed with their reign. This campaign of terror lasted until roughly 1920, 1930.

The Dutch kingdom

It is no coincidence the occupation of Indonesia started around the same period in which the Dutch royalty was “reinstalled” (Wikipedia, bold added by me):

The monarchy of the Netherlands was established in 1815 as a reaction to the decline and eventual fall of the Dutch Republic. It was observed at the time that a large part of the decline of the republic was due to a lack of a strong, central government in the face of strong, centrally led competitor nations such as Great Britain and the French kingdom. After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1813 and the resurrection of the Netherlands, it was decided to reform the republic in the Kingdom of the Netherlands with a monarchy rather than the old stadtholder system.

Dutch claims and the Indonesian occupation by the Dutch until 1949

It lasted until 1949 before the Netherlands released their unjust claim on “the colony of” Indonesia and only after great political pressure from i.e. the United Nations due to the slaughters done under the flag of “police actions” in the period from 1947 until 1949.

Some snippets on that periode from this article:

The Indonesian republic’s prospects were highly uncertain [after 1945]. The Dutch, determined to reoccupy their colony, castigated Sukarno and Hatta as collaborators with the Japanese and the Republic of Indonesia as a creation of Japanese fascism. But the Netherlands, devastated by the Nazi occupation, lacked the resources to reassert its authority. […]

On July 21, 1947, the Dutch, claiming violations of the Linggajati Agreement, launched what was euphemistically called a “police action” against the republic. Dutch troops drove the republicans out of Sumatra and East and West Java, confining them to the Yogyakarta region of Central Java. The international reaction to the police action, however, was negative. […]

Immediately following the Madiun Affair, the Dutch launched a second “police action” that captured Yogyakarta on December 19, 1948. Sukarno, Hatta, who was there serving both as vice president and prime minister, and other republican leaders were arrested and exiled to northern Sumatra or the island of Bangka. An emergency republican government was established in western Sumatra. But The Hague’s hard-fisted policies aroused a strong international reaction not only among newly independent Asian countries, such as India, but also among members of the UN Security Council, including the United States. In January 1949, the Security Council passed a resolution demanding the reinstatement of the republican government. The Dutch were also pressured to accept a full transfer of authority in the archipelago to Indonesians by July 1, 1950. The Round Table Conference was held in The Hague from August 23 to November 2, 1949 to determine the means by which the transfer could be accomplished. Parties to the negotiations were the republic, the Dutch, and the federal states that the Dutch had set up following their police actions.

The result of the conference was an agreement that the Netherlands would recognize the RUSI as an independent state, that all Dutch military forces would be withdrawn, and that elections would be held for a Constituent Assembly. Two particularly difficult questions slowed down the negotiations: the status of West New Guinea, which remained under Dutch control, and the size of debts owed by Indonesia to the Netherlands, an amount of 4.3 billion guilders being agreed upon. Sovereignty was formally transferred on December 27, 1949.

In the 2 years of “Dutch police actions” Dutch millitaries were sent with material bought from roughly 500 million Guilders: around 50% of the money borrowed by the US to the Netherlands as part of the Marshall Plan to restore Post War Netherlands (Wikipedia):

United States aid […]. This included Marshall Plan funds vital for Dutch post-World War II rebuilding that had so far totalled $US 1 billion. The Netherlands Government had spent an amount equivalent to almost half of this funding their campaigns in Indonesia.

What have we lost?

Apparently we “lost” “our” colonies in 1949.

My apologies

Dear people of Indonesia. I apologize for 1: the parasitic and clearly abusive behavior of my country and 2: the complete lack of human compassion and consideration of human rights under Dutch “ruling” from my government to people who are and always have been our equal in all accounts. I apologize for the suffering our “ruling” has caused over the past.

I apologize for my Dutch government who apparently still seems to think a bullshit apology can be served as a tool to improve international (trade) relationships.

I apologize for the damage we did to your collective self-image, breaking and mutilating it consistently over the past centuries so you would (continue to) subject to our “ruling”.

I apologize for the governmental politics of delay in the payments of compensation to those who deserve it.

I apologize to those who deserve compensation and have not been acknowledged.

I apologize to the families and individuals who have been systematically disowned by the Dutch, under Dutch “ruling”, including family grounds, villages, homes.

I apologize for the still present denial of that past and those atrocities.

I apologize for the murders, the rapes, the oppression that took place under Dutch government and Dutch rule. I apologize for the loss of your culture and your history where this was twisted and erased under Dutch “ruling” and by Dutch influence.

I apologize for all the things we stole from your country during our “rule”, including the “debt” we waged on you after the war. I apologize this debt has not been paid back to you in full, even 60 years after your rightful reclaim of your own countries and islands.


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