Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dutch Compensation

Dec 19th, 2007, in Opinion, by Guest Writer
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Should Indonesia seek compensation from the Netherlands?

Should Indonesia seek Dutch compensation?

As I read more about the history of Indonesia, this question cropped up to tease me.
The question being this; should Indonesia demand compensation from the Dutch Government for their past atrocities and what they looted during their time in Indonesia?

I have neither come across any source which says that the Dutch have formally and unequivocally apologised for their past crimes against the Indonesians nor is there anything which says that Indonesia has absolved the Dutch.

The history of the VOC and the Dutch East Indies is filled with umpteen comments that relate about Dutch atrocities.

Comments such as this:
"It was the beginning of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia. ... In these outrageous expeditions countless atrocities were committed."

and this:
"For of all the countries, outside of Africa, that had suffered from colonialism, Indonesia was without a doubt plundered the most ferociously. When the Indonesian masses finally were able to declare their political independence, the rich archipelago was one of the most impoverished areas on earth."

and this,
"the Dutch had tried and ultimately failed to re-impose their colonial power on the country after World War II. In the process, the Dutch military were guilty of what official records call 'excesses' In the view of some who were there, these 'excesses' were nothing less than war crimes. The sense of denial and cover up is so strong, most Dutch historians won't touch it."

and this:
"Wim, a Dutch soldier with the rank of corporal was stationed in Western Java in the Bogor area. He saw the 'police action' in Indonesia as morally wrong and refused to shoot people. He refused to be in a position of some authority and asked to be relieved of his corporal's responsibilities. Accordingly, the commanding officer demoted him to serve as an ordinary soldier.

Wim's memories connected with experiences of that period were deeply repressed and disturbed him many years later when he was an older man. He witnessed much human misery, saw friends killed and innocent Indonesians slaughtered. Mutilated bodies were a common sight."

and this:
"This wall of denial has only increased over time. There is a general silence about the murders committed by the Dutch Army in the name of the Dutch kingdom.

The Indonesians are trying to forget their painful past. So no one wanted to ask, no one wanted to find out what happened and no one did. The ghosts of colonial misrule and murder linger over Indonesia, even today."

Historical Facts
1602 - 1799. Indonesia was "ruled" by the Dutch VOC, which were a combination of Dutch Companies.
1800. Dutch formally declared the archipelago as the Dutch East Indies under direct rule of the Dutch Government.
1949. Dutch were forced in by International pressure to recognize Indonesia's Independence declaration in 1945.

Additional details of Indonesian History Timeline: 1602 - 1949
1602, March 20th. Dutch companies combine to form Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC); led by Heeren XVII representing different regions of the Netherlands; States-General gives VOC power to raise armies, build forts, negotiate treaties and wage war in Asia.
VOC establishes post at Gresik.

The Dutch East India Company was given most of the powers of a sovereign state, partly because communication between the Netherlands and Asia was so slow that colonial activities simply could not be directed from Amsterdam.

1798. Dutch government revokes charter of VOC, assumes its debts and assets.
The VOC was losing money to corruption and political intrigues. By the end of the 1700s, it was fully bankrupt. On January 1st, 1800, it ceased to exist.

1800, January 1st. VOC formally dissolved; properties revert to Dutch government.
More of these excerpts from "Timeline of Indonesian History" can be seen at

Compensation from the Japanese Government was once thought to be beyond any hope for those comfort ladies who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese Forces during their Occupation.

After several generations and with the details of Dutch atrocities either forever lost or progressively becoming blurred, is it beyond any hope for Indonesia to demand compensation from the Dutch?

I am not aware if Indonesia considered it and representation for compensation was made to the Dutch Government.

Assuming that Indonesia did in fact request for compensation but did not succeed, the Dutch attitude finds a similar comparison from an observer's remark. It was about the gift that Queen Beatrix's gave to Indonesia during her official presence in Indonesia's for celebrations of their 50th anniversary of Independence.

~ and drum roll please....

The Queen presented the Indonesian people with a Friesian cow. It must have been her pet cow and it probably sat beside H.R.H Beatrix on Royal Dutch Airline - all the way to Indonesia.

"A cow and not a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh. Very rude. That's part of the Dutch soul, this rudeness."
the observer berated.
In the case of the Dutch, I do not know what a Friesian cow symbolises. I do know what a cow symbolises for the Hindus but then again, Indonesia is not predominantly Hindu. Oh well, it was better a cow than a Trojan Horse.
It could well have been a Dutch way to inform the Indonesians that if they hoped for any compensation, they would have to wait till the cows come home. However, the Dutch would mock and have their Queen to bring at least one cow home to Indonesia with their sentiment,
"In the name of William of Orange! be thankful for that."
By the way, anyone knows what has happened to that "royal" Friesian cow?
What about Dutch financial donations/loans, (not compensation)? I read the following. It relates to what happened 16 years ago.

"Multilateral aid to Indonesia was long an area of international interest, particularly with the Netherlands, the former colonial manager of Indonesia's economy. Starting in 1967, the bulk of Indonesia's multilateral aid was coordinated by an international group of foreign governments and international financial organizations, the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia. The IGGI was established by the government of the Netherlands and continued to meet annually under Dutch leadership, although Dutch aid accounted for less than 2 percent of the US$4.75 billion total lending arranged through the IGGI for FY 1991."

Note how small was the Dutch amount. *brings out my calculator.....4.75 billion x 2 percent = 95,000,000 tops, but it was LESS than 95 million said the article. PEANUTS compared to what the Dutch plundered from Indonesia for 350 years.

Anyway, it went on to say that
"the IGGI was disbanded. The Indonesian government decided not to accept further financial assistance from Holland because the Dutch government intervened too deeply in its domestic political affairs. The World Bank formed a new consortium called the CGI (Consultative Group on Indonesia) to take over IGGI's role. Holland was not invited to join the CGI, and it has not become a member until today."

However, no matter how ludicrous the question might be plus the fact it would have other ramifications because the Dutch are not the only colonialist throughout the history of mankind, would compensation be possible?

As an aside comment regarding corruption in Indonesia vis-a-vis Indonesia's colonial past.
Aristotle once said:
"If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development."

Having read what was the cause for the demise of the VOC, I have this remark to make.
"The VOC was losing money to corruption and political intrigues. By the end of the 1700s, it was fully bankrupt. On January 1st, 1800, it ceased to exist."

Therefore, apart from the human sufferings that the natives endured during the Dutch colonial period, is it tenable that corruption in post independent Indonesia is something the Indonesians witnessed and inherited from 200 years of VOC presence and presumably throughout the remaining 150 years of Dutch presence thereafter?



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