Live stream recording - Wednesday 7 may 2014
The Indonesian War of Independence (1945-1949) is a period which the Dutch are not eager to look back upon. To original ‘noble’ but clearly ‘colonial’ aim to free the Dutch East Indies from the Japanese soon resulted in a ‘dirty’ war against the Republic of Indonesia. The violence used by the Dutch military during the so-called Police Actions on the islands Java and Sumatra continues to haunt Dutch society. Nowadays it is more and more acknowledged that talking of ‘excesses’ does not cover the intensity and brutality of the Dutch violence.
The Rawagede massacre of December 1947 - during which according to Indonesian estimations 431 man were killed - has functioned as an important catalyst for the discussion on Dutch colonial war crimes. In 2011, 64 years after the massacre, the Dutch ambassador for Indonesia officially apologised on behalf of the Netherlands. Some months earlier a Dutch court had decided that the Dutch government should pay nine surviving relatives of ‘Rawagede’ a compensation.
During this event we will look closer into these apologies. What is their significance, in the Netherlands and in Indonesia? Are they just empty words or do they mark a real change? Are they part of the Dutch denial process or are they opening up new perspectives on the Indonesian War of Independence?
With contributions by:
Liesbeth Zegveld is a lawyer specialized in liability for human rights violations. In particular she is committed to victims of war; she defended the surviving relatives of Rawagede. Zegveld is Professor of War Reparations at the University of Amsterdam.
Wouter Veraart is Professor of Legal Philosophy and Director of Research at the VU University Amsterdam. His research focuses on the boundaries between law and morality, in particular when society is dealing with past injustice.
Anda Zara is a research trainee at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies. He is currently writing his dissertation on the use of propaganda by the Indonesians during Indonesia’s war of independence that lasted 1945-1949.
Martijn Eickhoff is senior researcher at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies and assistant professor of cultural history at Radboud University Nijmegen.
About Roads to Justice
Transitional Justice has many different faces. History has seen (inter)national tribunals, truth and reconciliation committees and local coping mechanisms. How does a state that survived mass violence and mass killings build a new future, and what mechanisms does it use for coming to terms with its past? This annual series – organized by the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and various partners – discusses roads to justice around the globe.
The themes of the first three episodes were:
-International Criminal Justice and Global Politics: Perspectives of the Defence
-Legacies of the Closing International Tribunals
For more information on this series please check the website niod.knaw.nl