Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts

On May 5, 2005, the activists of Komite Nasional Pembela Martabat Bangssa Indonesia (KNPMBI) or National Committee for the Defense of the Dignity of the Indonesian Nation, established Komite Utang Kehormatan Belanda (KUKB), Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts; which was inspired by thesis of Dr. Theodor van Deventer – a former Dutch lawyer in Semarang in 1899. The article appeared in ‘de Gids’ magazine in the Netherlands entitled ‘Een Ereschuld’ (One Honorary Debt), which laid criticism against colonial practices in Indonesian Archipelago.

The thesis had successfully implored the Dutch Government to review the policy in its colony, Netherlands Indies. The new policy was named ‘Politik Etis’ (or Ethics Politic, or Ethische Politiek in Dutch), allowed wider education to the indigenous people, which previously privileged only to the society of elites supporting the Dutch Government.

The objective of the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts is not seeking revenge, but to achieve REKONSILIASI YANG BERMARTABAT (Reconciliation with Dignity) between Indonesia and Holland.

This objective was informed to the Honorary Dutch Ambassador for Indonesia, Baron Schelto van Heemstra during the visit of leaders of the National Committee for the Defense of the Dignity of the Indonesian Nation (KNPMBI) on invitation of the Dutch Embassy, in Jakarta, April 3, 2002. This objective had also been conveyed to Mr. Bert Koenders and Mdm. Angelien Eijsink, both are parliament members from Partij van de Arbeid, during our meeting in the Dutch Parliament Building in The Hague on December 19, 2005. We also established communication with Mdm. Krista van Velzen, the Dutch Parliament member from the Socialist Party, through email.

Whether we like it or not, it has been fact that the relationship between Indonesia and Holland has been going on in the span of more than 400 years. Apart from the negative experiences during the colonization period, which in some parts of Indonesia, had been carried out for more than 300 years; there have also been many Dutch people, who more than 100 years ago, have defended the indigenous people against their own government, such as Dr. Theodor van Deventer, Eduard Douwes Dekker (Multatuli), Hendricus Sneevliet and Prof. Wim Wertheim. There are also other prominent figures such as Dr. Francois Eugene Douwes Dekker (Setia Budi) who politically fought for Indonesia and H. Poncke Princen who involved in physical struggle for Indonesia as well.

On the present day, many Dutch people express their sympathy with Indonesia, They are welcomed to hold honest discussions on the past relationship between Indonesia and Holland, especially the Dutch young generation who do not carry the burden of history.

However, the Dutch Government as institution, so far has refused to recognize the Independence Day of the Republic Indonesia is in August 17, 1945; and only acknowledge December 27, 1949 – the date of the submission of sovereignty (soevereniteitsoverdracht) by Dutch Government to the Government of the United States of Republic of Indonesia (Pemerintah Republik Indonesia Serikat = RIS) as the date of Indonesian Independence. This was highlighted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ben Bot, in an interview with Television of Indonesia, on August 19, 2005; when he stated that “… and recognition is something you can only do once … so the transfer of sovereignty took place in 1949 ... “

On May 20, 2005, the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debt (KUKB) petitioned that:

the Dutch Government to recognize that the Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia is 17th August 1945,

the Dutch Government to apologize to Indonesia for the colonization , the slavery of Indonesian people and human rights violation, and for the crimes against humanity.

The Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts (KUKB) distinguishes the attitudes of Dutch Government and those of Dutch people who express sympathy towards Indonesia, who not only supports the recognition of August 17, 1945 as Indonesian Independence Day, on but also supports the compensation to be granted to Indonesia.

The claim is made to the Dutch Government, not to Holland as a nation and neither to ex soldiers and executors of the crimes and human right violations in Indonesia between 1945 to 1950.

The Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts (KUKB) reserves an opinion that the Indonesian people are not the only victims to the aggression of Dutch Military post World War II, but the Dutch soldiers who were sent to war in Indonesia between 1945-1950 were also victims of the wrong policies implemented by the Dutch Government in the period.

It should be remembered that the Indonesië Weigeraars, equal to the Dutch Youth, between 1946 and 1949 had refused to be involved in the war in Indonesia; and the facts that more than 1,200 of them were sent to prison as the consequences; while thousands of them had possibly fled Holland or forced to live in seclusion for years due to their uncooperative stance to the Dutch colonial war at that time.

What we refer to ‘Reconciliation with Dignity’ is not a mere form of exchanging greeting and forgiving each-other, but also in the form of ‘Dignity Restoration’ in wide sense, which include but not limited to :
1. The Formal Recognition – both de facto and de jure – that the Independence of Republic of Indonesia is as proclaimed on August 17, 1945.
2. The Restoration of Dignity of Indonesië Weigeraars, and those who refused to cooperate with Dutch aggression policies in Indonesia.

The Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ben Bot, in his speech delivered in Jakarta, August 16, 2005, acknowledged that :

“ … In retrospect, it is clear that its large-scale deployment of military forces in 1947 put Netherlands on the wrong side of history ...”

And our interpretation on the statement that ‘the policy placing Holland “on the wrong side of history” is that same policy has also brought about many victims on both sides.

The Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts (KUKB) also agrees with his statement that :
‘ ….. although painful memories never go away, they must not be allowed to stand in the way of honest reconciliation ….”

However, the statement would only serve as lip services if were not followed by resolution and evident actions. Therefore, it is considerably for the Dutch Government, befitting an institution which has recognized it had implemented a wrong policy, to take full responsibility to make amend by recognizing August 17, 1945 as Indonesian Independence Day, to apologize and to distribute compensation to the victims of the wrongly implemented policy.

Batara R. Hutagalung
Founder and Chairman


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Letter to Mrs. Krista van Velzen

To :
The Honorary Mrs. Krista van Velzen
Member of the Dutch Parliament, Socialist Party

Mr. Guido van Leemput
Staff of the Socialist Party Faction in the Dutch Parliament,
(Medewerker Tweede-Kamerfractie, Buitenlandse zaken en defensie)

Dear, Mrs van Velzen
Dear, Mr. van Leemput

Mr. Jeffry Pondaag, Chairman of the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts, Section Netherlands (Afdeling Nederland) has informed me about the meeting with you in Den Haag on February 1, 2006.

I would like to take this opportunity to explain that the objective of the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts’ activities is not to exact revenge on the Dutch people; but on the contrary, our aspiration is to achieve reconciliation – a reconciliation with dignity - both between the Indonesian and the Dutch people, and between the Dutch veterans who were taking part in the military aggressions in Indonesia between 1945 – 1950 and the victims or the widows/families of the victims of the military aggressions.

To be more precise, the aim should be a Truth and Reconcilliation act, which denotes that all the facts on what really happened should be revealed in the spirit of honesty and truth seeking. Those who gave the orders that brought upon damages and sufferings should acknowledge their deeds, apologize to the victims and take the responsibility.

What we comprehend today is that many (even though not all) widows and families of the victims of Dutch military aggressions have accepted the history as their fates, as God’s will, as Allahs’s will. But as their difficult lives in consideration, they would be very grateful, if in their old age, they could receive financial support to recompense the long sufferings. Most of the victims were villager and farmer. In the farmer world, the husbands or fathers are the backbones of the family. The killings of the family backbones were paramount to their destiny and marked the beginning of the long sufferings.

On August 16, 2005 in Jakarta, the Dutch Foreign Minister Mr. Ben Bot said that:

“… In retrospect, it is clear that its large-scale deployment of military forces in 1947 put the Netherlands on the wrong side of history. The fact that military action was taken and that many people on both sides lost their lives or were wounded is a harsh and bitter reality especially for you, the people of the Republic of Indonesia. A large number of your people are estimated to have died as a result of the action taken by the Netherlands. On behalf of the Dutch government, I wish to express my profound regret for all that suffering ...”

These words, which recognize, that “…the Netherlands on the wrong side of history…” and “…a large number of your people are estimated to have died as a result of the action taken by the Netherlands ...” should actually have logical consequences, among others to take the responsibility for the damages that resulted from the “large scale deployment of military forces” which none other than a military aggression against the sovereign and independent state, the Republic of Indonesia.

Although, it was a half hearted recognition, because Mr Bot said:
“… Through my presence the Dutch government expresses its political and moral acceptance of the Proklamasi, the date the Republic of Indonesia declared independence…”

It was yet only a de facto, and not de jure recognition. In an interview with an Indonesian Television on August 19, 2005, Mr. Bot said, that the recognition was given only once. His exact statement was : “…so the transfer of sovereignty took place in 1949…”

It was the recognition of the “United States of the Republic of Indonesia” (Republik Indonesia Serikat – RIS) on December 27, 1949. The RIS has been dissolved on August 16, 1950, thus the RIS existed less than one year.

So we urge the Netherlands Government to recognize the Indonesian Independence Day was on August 17, 1945.

Our aspiration of reconciliation is not about forgetting what happened in the past. Nor can it be achieved if through lack understanding of the backgrounds and the rationale that purported the human rights abuses, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In my opinion, not only the Indonesian civilians were the victims of Dutch military aggressions, but the Dutch soldiers who have been sent to Indonesia to execute their commands were also victims of the Dutch’ mistakes in exercising policy that “put the Netherlands on the wrong side of history.”

And not forgetting the “Indonesië weigeraars”, thousands of Dutch young men who refused to take part in the war in Indonesia between 1945 – 1950, and therefore were imprisoned for many years. On December 19, 2005 in Den Haag, I also met Mr. Jan Maassen, one of the Indonesië weigeraars. We would like to invite Mr. Maassen and other Indonesië weigeraars, to come to Indonesia.

We are planning to organize a reconciliation in Rawagede on December 9, 2006. As you may notice, on December 9, 1947, Dutch military killed 431 civilians of the village Rawagede. Of these victims, 22 widows and around 160 families of the victims are still alive today. I have met many of them, and as I have mentioned above, they have accepted what was happening as Allah’s will. They have no hate or anger against the Dutch people. Many of them have no objections to meet the former perpetrators, but this occasion should be well prepared and organized.

Thank you for your kind attention.

With best regards,

Batara R. Hutagalung
Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts

Cc to:
1. Mr. Mulyo Wibisono, MSc., Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Committee
of Dutch Honorary Debts,
2. Mr. Wahyono SK, PhD., Member of the Advisory Council of the Committee of
Dutch Honorary Debts,
3. Mr. Martin Basiang, SH., Legal Advisor of the Committee of Dutch Honorary
4. Mr. Jeffry Pondaag, Chairman of the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts,
Section Netherlands,
5. Members and Sympathizers of the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts.


"Velzen van Krista"
To: "Batara Hutagalung"

Dear mr. Hutagalung,

I don't think there is any misunderstanding about what your intentions are and what mine are. As discussed, I am willing to help out in (trying to set up) setting up a meeting between victims of Rawagede and a member of the dutch government.

Wishing you loads of succes in all your efforts,

Krista van Velzen
SP Tweede-Kamerlid
postbus 20018
2500 EA Den Haag

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Batara Hutagalung []
Verzonden: maandag 6 februari 2006 15:17
Onderwerp: Re: The Objective of the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts: Reconciliation