Friday, January 25, 2008

Tragedy of Rawagede Massacre, December 9, 1947

The Forgotten Dutch Military Aggression’s Victims

By Batara R. Hutagalung
Chairman of The Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts

On December 9, 2007 at the Rawagede monument, the 60th commemoration of the massacre in the Rawagede village was held.

On December 1947, in military aggression by the Dutch started since July 21, 1947; Dutch military members have slaughtered 431 people of Rawagede village near Karawang, West Java . On October 1948, Dutch military again conducted ‘sweeping’ in Rawagede, and this time 35 more people were killed. The massacre of village people in Rawagede is the second largest massacre after the massacre by Dutch military members in South Sulawesi between December 1946 to February 1947. Until August 1949, thousands of people were still being murdered without legal inquiries. During its aggression in Indonesia between 1945-1950, Dutch military have conducted various atrocities and crimes against humanity and severe human rights abuses, include rape against Indonesian women who have been captured by Dutch military personnel.
Ironically, all the crimes and human rights abuses were done by Dutch military after the end of the World War II on 1945, after the Dutch have been freed from German’ military aggression and hundred thousands of Dutch people were released from Japanese Internment camps where they were detained from 1942-1945.

Netherlands, which is member of nations which victimize by German and Japan’ military aggression, which also made inquiries on German and Japan as perpetrator of war crimes and human rights abuse. But later, Dutch military did the same thing, and responsible for various war crimes and crimes against humanity in its efforts to reinstate its colonialism in Indonesia.

Japan initiated its military aggression in East Asia by attacking the United States ’ military hub in Pearl Harbour, on December 1941. Then Japan attacked South East Asia , include Dutch’ colony which was Nederlands Indie. France , England and Dutch colonies in the region were one by one seized by Japan .
On March 1, 1942, Japanese army XVI under command of Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura attacked Java island, after Japan Navy destroyed Allies’ armies ABDACOM (American, British, Dutch, Australian Command) in a battle which known today as ‘the Battle of Java Sea’.

After the fight that last a week, Dutch military members in Dutch Indies almost without struggle, surrendered to Japanese army. On March 9, 1942 in Kalijati, near Subang, West Java, Lieutenant General Hein Ter Poorten, the top command of Dutch military in Dutch-Indies, representing Governor General of Dutch Indies, Jonkheer Alidus Warmmoldus Lambertus Tjarda van Starkenborgh-Stachouwer, signed a document of unconditional surrender and handed over all Dutch colonies to Japan. Therefore, March 9, 1942 marked the end of more than 300 years Dutch colonialism in Indonesia.

On August 15, 1945, Japan declared surrender to the Allies but the unconditional surrender document was signed on September 2, 1945, on board of US warship ‘USS Missouri’ in Tokyo Bay; which brought the vacuum of power during the two dates in all Japanese colonies include ex Dutch colonies which have been handed over to Japan.

On August 17, 1945, during the vacuum of power, Indonesian leaders have declared the Independence of Indonesia, and on August 18, 1945, have establish a government; which by thus, have fulfilled the three conditions to establish a nation, which are : 1. The presence of areas, 2. The presence of population, and 3. The presence of government.
On November 1946, the League of Arab Nations include Egypt, issued a resolution which acknowledged Indonesian independence as free and sovereign nation. It is a de jure acknowledgement according to International law.
After ‘surrendering’ its colonies formally to Japan, the Dutch have lost its rights and legitimation on Dutch-Indies. Therefore, when Indonesian people declared independence on August 17, 1945, this should not regarded as a coup against the Dutch.
The Dutch had been successful to obtain support from British to reinstate its colonialism in Indonesia, and these were enacted in Civil Affairs Agreement (CAA) which was signed in Chequers, England, on August 24, 1945. In CAA, British would ‘clean-up’ any military powers of Republic of Indonesia, to be transferred to NICA (Netherlands Indies Civil Administration).
These are recorded in command of Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Commander S.E.Asia Command, dated September 2, 1945, which given to Commander of Division 5, which stated:

“…You are instructed to proceed with all speed to the island of Java in the East Indies to accept the surrender of Japanese Imperial Forces on that island, and to release Allied prisoners of war and civilian internees.
In keeping with the provisions of the Yalta Conference you will re-establish civilians rule and return the colony to the Dutch Administration, when it is in a position to maintain services.
As you are no doubt aware, the local natives have declared a Republic, but we are bound to maintain the status quo which existed before the Japanese Invasion…”

Under assistance of 3 divisions of British army under command of Lieutenant General Phillip Christison and 2 divisions of Australian army under command of Lieutenant General Leslie “Ming the Merciless” Morsehead, gradually the Dutch acquired its power in Indonesia. On July 13, 1946, Australia ‘surrendered’ East Indonesia region to the Dutch, and on July 15-25, 1946, ex Dutch Vice Governor General, Dr. Van Mook, organized ‘Malino Conference’, near Makassar, to establish the East Indonesia State.

During the ‘clean-up period’ by British and Australian military, the Dutch sent more soldiers from Netherlands; in order when British and Australia pulled out their military personnel from Indonesia, the Dutch military power would be able to be immediate replacement. At that time, Dutch military members had exceeded 100,000 people and continuously increased to 200,000 people, with modern artilleries include heavy warfare which granted by British and Australian military.

Linggajati Agreement and Dutch Military Aggression I
British facilitated negotiation between Republic of Indonesia and Dutch in Linggajati. On November 15, 1946, Linggajati agreement was drafted; and on March 25, 1947, the agreement was formally signed by the government of Republic of Indonesia and Dutch government in Jakarta .

The Dutch was clearly using delay strategy, to strengthen its army in Indonesia by continuously shipped more people from Netherlands .

Linggajati aggrement lasted less than 4 months due to breach by the Dutch, by conducted military aggression which started on July 21, 1947, under code "Operatie Product". As a mask to International community, the Dutch named this aggression as ‘police action’; and declared the acts as internal affairs, which equivalent to statement that Indonesia was still its colony.

Republic of Indonesia reported this aggression to the United Nations, due to its breach against international agreement which is Linggajati agreement. Security Council of the United Nations issued Resolution No. 27, dated August 1, 1947, which called for cease of conflict.

United Nations Security Council has been de facto acknowledged the existence of Republic of Indonesia ; which is proven by formally addressed ‘INDONESIA’ in its resolution, and not ‘Netherlands Indies’. Since the first resolution, which is Resolution No. 27 on August 1, 1947, followed by Resolution No. 30 and No. 31 dated August 25, 1947, Resolution No. 36 on November 1, 1947, and Resolution No. 67 on January 28, 1949, Security Council of the United Nations always referred conflict between Republic of Indonesia and Netherlands as ‘The Indonesian Question’.

Under pressure of United Nations Security Council, on August 15, 1947, the Dutch government finally accepted resolution of United Nations Security Council to stop the fight.

On August 17, 1947, government of Republic of Indonesia and the Dutch government agreed on resolution of United Nations Security Council to cease-fire, and on August 25, 1947, United Nations Security Council established a committee to mediate conflict between Indonesia and the Dutch. This committee acted as Committee of Good Offices for Indonesia, widely known as ‘Committee of Three Nations’, due to the three nations which were its members : Australia which was appointed by Indonesia, Belgium which was appointed by Netherlands and the United States as the neutral party.
Facilitated by Committee of Good Offices for Indonesia , on December 8, 1947, a negotiation was initiated between the Dutch and Indonesia in USS Renville as neutral place.

Rawagede Massacre
Eventhough cease-fire agreement has been signed and during the negotiation in USS Renville, in West Java, the Dutch army from Division 1 which also known as Division of December 7, continued to hunt Indonesian army and patriots who fought against the Dutch. Dutch army which took part in Operation in Karawang areas were Detachment 3-9 RI, 1e para compagnie and 12 Genie veld compagnie, which were support brigade from paramilitary and DST (Depot Speciaale Troepen).

On December 9, 1947, a day after the initiation of Renville negotiation, Dutch army under command of  Major Alfons Wijnen, attacked Rawagede village and raided houses. But they did not find members of Indonesia army. This triggered them to force people to get out from their homes to be gathered in a field. Males above 15 years were ordered to stand side by side, and then questioned on the presence of Republic fighters. But none of the people were willing to reveal the location of Indonesian fighters.

The Dutch Officer then commanded to shoot dead all male villagers, include teenagers as young as 12 years. Few people were able to escape to the forest, even though they suffered bullet wounds. Sa'ih, one of the survivors, now aged 83, told a story how he and his father and neighbors about 20 people were ordered to stand in a line. The Dutch army then emptied their machine weapons onto them, and his father who stood next to them died instantly by the bullets. He also shot in his hand, but he fell on the ground and feigned to be death. He ran away when he found chance.

On that day, Dutch army massacred 431 people of Rawagede; without legal inquiry, lawsuit nor defense. Same as in South Sulawesi, the Dutch army in Rawagede have conducted what they referred as a summary execution (standrechtelijke excecuties); an act which clearly categorized as war crimes which is murder of non-combatants. It was estimated that the actual victims were more than 431, since many have been swept away by torrential flood due to heavy rain.

The downpours caused pool of bloods continue to drench the village. What left were women and children. The next day, after the Dutch army left the village, the women buried the bodies with in-adequate equipments. One mother buried her husband and two sons aged 12 and 15 years. They could not dug deep, only 50 centimeters, which caused the stenches stayed for days.

This massacre was also known by Committee of Good Offices for Indonesia from the United Nations. But the commission’ reaction was limited to ‘critic’ against the military action which they called “deliberate and ruthless”, without further strict sanction due to human-rights abuse; let alone treating this massacre against innocent people as war crimes.

Now, there are 9 widows of the victims and 1 survivor of Rawagede massacre on December 9, 1947. The youngest, Imi, now aged 75. At that time, she was 15 years old and just married for 3 days when her husband was shot dead before her eyes. Since then, she is not married. All of them are only illiterate village people.

De Excessennota
On January 1969, under pressure of Dutch parliament, the Dutch government established a team to review archives which submitted to Dutch government, in order to investigate misconducts by Dutch military members (KL, Koninklijke Landmacht and KNIL, Koninklijke Nederlands-Indische Leger), in Indonesia during 1945-1950. After conducting analysis in 5 months, the results were compiled in a report under title “Nota betreffende het archievenonderzoek naar gegevens omtrent excessen in IndonesiĂ« begaan door Nederlandse militairen in de periode 1945-1950”, shortened as De Excessennota. This formal report was presented by Prime Minister deJong on June 2, 1969. This report which prepared in a hurry only put 140 ‘excess’ which done by Dutch army, despite many other incidents; since there were large murder cases done by Dutch military personnel were not included in the Excessennota.

In Netherlands, many parties have clearly denounce that what have been done by Dutch military during this period are war crimes (oorlogs-misdaden) and not a mere excess.

The massacre in Rawagede, South Sulawesi and many other severe crimes against humanity, are only small evidences of Dutch military’ war crimes, in its efforts to re-colonialize Indonesia, after Indonesian people declared independence.

On August 16, 2005, in Jakarta , Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot stated 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 ...”

But this statement has been served as a mere lip service, since the Dutch government continues to remain irresponsible on various massacres on non-combatant people of Indonesia, and 60 years after these tragedies, remained unwilling to compensate the surviving victims, widows and family members of victims of Dutch army’ atrocities conducted during its military aggression in Indonesia between 1945-1950.


Petition to urge the Netherlands Government,
to recognize de jure Indonesian Independence Day was on August 17th 1945, and
to apologize for the colonialization, slavery, violation of human rights and horrific crimes against humanity

1 comment:

fidy said...

ok just wondering. what agreement did the japanese and the dutch really had in linggajati agreement? what was the deal? i mean... i've been assuming possibilities. first, probably, japanese promised something to the dutch. so the dutch gave up their indonesia to japan. but, since netherlands is one of the allies... and since usa dropped those bombs into nagasaki and hiroshima, probably, there was this special revenge to the allies, so japanese created BPUPKI AND PPKI and let those indonesians free. before the dutch come back for the military aggression. so well im assuming, japan gave up my nation, because they didn't want the dutch to take it over again. what do you think?