Dutch War crimes “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”

The Dutch War Crimes committed by Dutchman in Indonesia in the post-World War II-period 1945-1950 is topical again since some State Attorney refused to settle with a dispute resolution similar to the settlement implemented in a court verdict in a similar case. Again the superiors, Government and politicians in general do not show much empathy, compassion or skills for dispute resolution. In this article I will explore what would be helpful in settle these issues for the future.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word if it is related to discussions about guilt. Apart from the person who committed the crime, in cases of war crime or crimes against humanity much more authorities are involved. There are many ways though to restore wrongdoing as much as possible. If we deal with identified war crimes the victims and their survivors should have the first choice for restorative justice. When we deal with war crimes their are many parties involved. In the first place those who are victim and those who are actors of the wrongdoing. But also the survivors, widows, widowers and orphans are suffering from the malicious act. If we identify an act as a war crime or a crime against humanity their are more parties reliable for that act. The commander and others up the hierarchy can be held  responsible for the act or at least for the absence of a system that would prevent such acts. This responsibility goes all the way up to the government and head of State.

In a civilized society it is the role of the judge to identify an act as malicious and classify it as crime. Also the judge has to conclude who are responsible and reliable for that crime. If it becomes clear that at least some wrongdoing has been committed because the hierarchic control did not work properly, it is a wise thing up the hierarchy to acknowledge the mistakes and to apologize for that. In this paper I will not go any deeper into the judgments of right and wrong. Here it is interesting to explore what impact apologizes can have. Who can verbalize the apologies? What is the most effective form? What are the most effective words that can be used?

There are many ways to say sorry.

“I am sorry to hear that”
“I am sorry that you feel that way”
“I am so sorry”
“I am sorry that I looked away when it happened”
“I am sorry that I did not report when I came aware”
“I am sorry that I did not do anything to help”
“I am sorry that I did not reduce the pain / damage”
“I am sorry that I made a mistake”
“I am sorry that I did wrong”
“I am sorry that I did not do enough to prevent it happening”
“I am sorry for the wrongdoing of people I am responsible for”

Then their are more points to consider.

1. an enforced apology makes “sorry” most time almost worthless
2. the longer the time lapse between act and apologies the less effective
3. the person who makes the apologies should be the highest in hierarchy
4. If the person or institute who was responsible at the time of the act is still alive, the apologies by that identity has the most impact.

It might be very important for the victims that an apologize will be made. It should depends on the victims in which manner these apologizes will be received and if the apologies will be in public or not. Sometimes apologies is the most important restorative act, so better get the apologies done as soon as possible. Sometimes apologies is part of restorative justice and entitlement and a more extensive dispute resolution. The sooner an appropriate representative will apologize, say “sorry” the more likely a dispute can be settled and a peaceful relation restored.

mr. Michael Boelrijk LL.D. M.A.
“sorry I am a lawyer”

In 2002 Boelrijk published an article about the benefits of mediation for criminals-victims disputes. This is the abstract of that article: Mediation between culprit and victim of intimidation is less well known. Intimidation can arise from teasing, stalking, mobbing, abuse of power, sexual harassment or discrimination. Even when such conflicts lead to criminal acts, mediation can be thought of as an alternative to prosecution or as supplementary to criminal proceedings or as part of a civil claim or support those cases. Such a meeting between offender and victim would be supplementary to, and therefore not a replacement for, other legal sanctions. The victim must be able to judge for themselves whether the meeting with the offender is sufficient for them to come to terms with the offence. Offender and Victim must be clear as to what benefit they can achieve from a renewed confrontation, and they must be able to choose freely whether to take part in mediation or not. In order for the mediation to have a good chance of success, the mediator must not have any goals himself, or try to achieve his own aims when leading the discussion.

The victim benefits from mediation when it helps to heal or minimize the damage that the victim has suffered. This damage can be material, social and emotional results. The victim can also benefit from being able to relate what consequences of the harassment have been, and having the opportunity to ask the harasser questions about the reasons, the circumstances and the background of the offence. If the employer wants to take responsibility for the damage that has been inflicted, then he can best do this in mediation. A meeting also gives him the opportunity to make a substantial contribution to repairing the (material, social and emotional) damage.

mr. Michael Boelrijk LL.D. M.A.


Following information is from Historisch Weekblad.nl January 11th, 2012 | by Wendy Dallinga 
Examples of Dutch government committed war crimes in Indonesia

Widows of former Rawagede and South Sulawesi have Netherlands indicted for war crimes committed during the Indonesian war of independence. Following are examples of committed aggressive acts by Dutch soldiers in Indonesia between 1945 and 1950?

In 1969 Dutch parliament had to draft a Memorandum Excesses. The reason was the rumors that was created by a broadcast of the TV bulletin “Achter het Nieuws”, in which the former conscript JE Hueting was interviewed. He had been involved in Indonesia in 1947 with “third degree interrogation and torture of Indonesians, killings of prisoner of war and committing violence against the civilian population.”

A committee headed by historian Cees Fasseur collected in four months about 76 ‘violent excesses’. The note contains only matters which the Committee could find in archives, cases which had been court-martialed or publicity overtook data. The locals could not be interviewed, at such short notice.

The correct number of victims for most committed Dutch war crimes is not to figure out, even if research had been done in the period 1945-1949. On the other hand the Indonesian government exaggerated the number of victims in their propaganda against the Dutch. Indonesian Government also evacuated some witnesses, making research by the Dutch hard. On the Dutch side were many cases dismissed by the court martial. Few Dutch soldiers have been prosecuted.

The following 10 examples is therefore not only based on casualty numbers. On the advice of Cees Fasseur also looked at the level of ‘atrocity’. Especially the deliberate killing of defenseless civilians scores high on that scale. Fasseur: “It happened that Dutch military on a hike would kill Indonesian citizens because they fled. The military argued that if the Indonesian citizens had nothing to do with the fightings they would have stood still.” These 10 examples also included some violent excesses that may be considered as exemplary for other similar cases.

1. South Sulawesi
During ‘purges’ under the command of Captain Reymond Westerlingner Dutch soldiers executed between December 1946 and February 1947 between 3,000 and 5,000 Indonesians. The Indonesian government reported at that time at the United Nations 40,000 victims. Several hundred of soldiers are suspected to be guilty of that kind of executions.

2. Bondowoso (East Java)
When a shipment of 100 Indonesian trapped in three carriages were completed in November 1947 by 46 prisoners suffocated to death. Because of mis-communication the responsible Dutch soldiers had not paid attention to the condition of the prisoners.

3. Rawagede (West Java)
In December 1947 Dutch soldiers executed villagers without trial. The Excesses Note 1969 alternately wrote of between 20 and 150 victims. This number was far too low. Today the estimation is of 431 executed.

4. Gendang (Borneo)
On February 28, 1949 a Dutch patrol soldiers shot dead 30 prisoner of war. They threw the bodies into a river. Members of the patrol stated that the victims had managed to break out, in which two soldiers were injured. The arched sergeant then gave the order to shoot the prisoners death.

5. Cilacap (Central Java)
On August 1, 1949 it was ‘Drama Tjilatjap’ place. A patrol was on its way to at Goenoeng Simping to detect possible Indonesian fighters. The Dutch surrounded a house where there was a wedding party. Without evidence of enemy soldiers in the house were present, a Dutch soldier fired a shot through a misunderstanding. Then other soldiers started to shoot. This shooting incident took 14 men, 11 women and a child’s life.

6. Solo (Central Java)
During a klewang-attack by the Corps Special Forces on August 11, 1949, 20 unarmed civilians were killed. The chairman of the local Indonesian Red Cross turned this matter to the Dutch military authorities. It is a classic example of an excess to which an investigation was conducted that yielded no result. The case-Solo was deposited, because the place was cleared and Indonesian witnesses who were heard before gave no further cooperation.

7. Malang (East Java)
16 Indonesian prisoners were 2 and March 3, 1949 in Malang shot dead by a Dutch patrol. Two senior officers later confession fully that they had given the order to these murders.

8. Tjiamis (West Java)
Members of the Corps Special Forces assassinated on 13 and April 16, 1948 some prisoners in Tjiamis. The bodies remained unburied. A brigade commander wrote in a note on the KST ‘that his corps-troops acted completely out of control of the commanders. The corps was more involved in the killing of prisoners without trial and without military necessity.

9. Peniwen (East Java)
During a “cleansing operation” on 19 and February 20, 1949 Dutch soldiers killed without military necessity 4 or 5 Indonesians, when the Dutch commanded them to leave a church that served as a hospital. The case came to light through a notice in the bulletin of the Dutch Reformed Church March 22, 1949.

10. Soetodjajan (East Java)
In August 1947 three Marines refused to set the village Soetodjajan on fire. The Marines did not see any military need for such act and had moral and religious objections. The Secretary of the Navy decided on December 23, 1948 that indeed the military necessity was there, but that the Marines were wrongly punished with two and a half and five years in prison and dismissal from military service.

Thanks to Cees Fasseur


Translation into Bahasa Indonesia by Dr. Reza Mohammad

Contoh-contoh kejahatan perang yang dilakukan Pemerintah Belanda
Janda-janda dari rawagede dan Sulawesi selatan menunjukkan kejahatan perang selama perang Kemerdekaan Indonesia. Berikut merupakan contoh-contoh tindakan agresif yang dilakukan oleh tentara Belanda di Indonesia antara 1945 dan 1950. Informasi dari Historisch Weekblad.nl, 11 Januari 2012 oleh Wendi Dalinga.

Pada 1969 Parlemen harus menyusun suatu “Nota berlebihan”. Alasannya adalah keributan yang ditimbulkan suatu siaran dari bulletin TV “Achter Het Nieuws”, dimana seorang bekas wajib militer JE Hueting diwawancara. Dia terlibat di Indonesia pada 1947 dengan “ Penyiksaan dan interogasi tingat tiga terhadap rakyat Indonesia, pembunuhan tahanann perang dan melakukan kekerasan terhadap penduduk sipil.”

Sebuah komisi yang diketuai oleh Cees Fasseur mengumpulkan dalam waktu 4 bulan 76 “kekerasan berlebihan”. Catatan tersebut hanya berdasarkan data yang dapat ditemukan oleh komisi, yang berasal dari Peradilan Militer atau data dari public. Penduduk local tidak dapat diwawancara pada waktu itu.

Jumlah pasti dari korban yang ditimbulkan tidak disebutkan, meskipun penelitian telah dilakukan pada periode 1945-1949. Pemerintah Indonesia membesar-besarkan jumlah korban dalam rangka propaganda melawan Belanda. Mereka juga memindahkan beberapa saksi, membuat sulit penelitian. Pada pihak Belanda terdapat banyak kasus yang dibatalkan oleh Pengadilan Militer. Hanya sedikit tentara Belanda yang dihukum.

Berikut 10 contoh dimana tidak hanya berdasarkan jumlah korban. Saran dari Cees Fasseur untuk melihat juga pada kekejaman khususnya pada pembunuhan secara sengaja terhadap penduduk sipil tanpa perlindungan menepati urutan yang tinggi pada skala tersebut. Fasseur: “ hal tersebut terjadi dimana militer Belanda dalam suatu perjalanan membunuh penduduk Indonesia karena mereka melarikan diri. Militer berpendapat bahwa jika mereka tidak terlibat dengan pertempuran maka mereka tidak akan kabur.” 10 contoh tersebut juga termasuk beberapa kekerasan berlebih yang dapat dianggap serupa dengan kasus-kasus lain.

1. Sulawesi Selatan
Selama pembersihan dibawah komanda kapten Reymond Westerlingner, antara Desember 1946 dan Februari 1947 tentara Belanda mengeksekusi antara 3.000 hingaa 5.000 penduduk Indonesia. Pemerintah Indonesia melaporkan pada saat itu pada PBB 40.000 korban. Ratusan tentara dituduh bersalah terhadap eksekusi tesebut.

2. Bondowoso (Jawa Timur)
Ketika pengiriman 100 orang Indonesia terjebak pada 3 pengangkutan yang dilakukan pada November 1947, 46 tahanan mati kehabisan udara. Karena miskomunikasi tanggung jawab tentara Belanda tidak memperhatikan kondisi para tahanan.

3. Rawagede (jawa barat)
Pada Desember 1947 tentara mengeksekusi masyarakat desa tanpa pengadilan. Catatan pada 1969 menunjukkan 20 hingga 150 korban. Jumlah ini sangat sedikit. Kini perkiraannya ialah 431 orang dieksekusi.

4. Gendang (Kalimantan)
Pada 28 februari 1949 sebuah patroli tentara menembak mati 30 tahanan perang. Mereka meleparkan mayat tersebut ke sebuah sungai. Anggota patroli tersebut menyatakan bahwa para korban ingin kabur, dimana 2 tentara terluka. Seorang Sersan kemudian memberikan perintah menembak mati tahanan.

5. Cilacap (Jawa Tengah)
1 agustus 1949 merupakan “Drama Cilacap”. Sebuah patroli sedang menuju Gunung Simpinng untuk mencari keberadaan pejuanag Indonesia. Tentara Belanda tersebut mengepung sebuah rumah dimana ada sebuah pesta pernikahan. Tanpa bukti keberadaan tentara musuh di rumah tersebut, seorang tentara mengeluarkan tembakan dikarenakan suatu kesalahpahaman. Kemudian tentara lain mulai menembak. Insiden penembakan ini menewaskan 14 Pria, 11 Wanita dan seorang anak.

6. Solo (Jawa Tengah)
Selama penyerangan klewang oleh korps pasukan khusus pada 11 agustus 1942, 20 masyarakat sipil tak bersenjata terbunh. Ketua Palang merah Indonesia setempat mengarahkan hal ini kepada otoritas militer. Ini merupakan suatu contoh klasik dari suatu kekerasan berlebih dimana suatu investigasi yang dilakukan tidak memberikan hasil. Kasus solo mengendap, karena tempat tersebut telah dibersihkan dan saksi mata Indonesia yang di dengar kesaksiannya sebelumnya , tidak mau bekerjasama lebih jauh.

7. Malang (Jawa Timur)
Pada 3 Maret 1949 di Malang, 16 tahanan ditembak mati oleh sebuah patroli Belanda. 2 pejabat senior dikemudian hari mengakui sepenuhnya bahwa mereka telah memberi perintah pembunuhan tersebut.

8. Ciamis (Jawa Barat)
Para anggota korps pasukan khusus membunuh beberapa tahanan pada 13 dan 14 April 1948 di Ciamis. Mayat-myat tersebut tidak dikbur. Seorang komandan Brigade menuliskan suatu catatan pada KST “bahwa korps pasukan ini bertindak sepunhnya diluar kendali komandan. Korps ini terlibat pembunuhan para tahanan tanpa pengadilan dan tanpa kepentingan militer.

9. Peniwen (Jawa Timur )
Selama “operasi pembersihan” pada 19 dan 20 1949 tentara Belanda membunuh tanpa kepentingan militer 4 atau 5 masyarakat, ketika komandan Belanda memerintahkan mereka untuk meninggalkan sebuah Gereja yang juga difungsikan sebagai sebuah Rumah Sakit. Kasus tersebut mengemuka melalui sebuah catatan dalam bulletin Dutch Reformed Church 22 Maret 1949

10. Sutojayan (Jawa Timur)
Pada Agustus 1947 3 orang marinir menolak membakar Desa Sutojoyan. Para marinir tersebut tidak melihat adanya kepentingan untuk tindak tersebut dan memiliki penolakan moral serta agama. Sektaris angkatan laut memutuskan pada 23 Desember 1948 bahwa sungguh ada kepentingan ketika itu, namun para marinir dihukum bersalah 2,5 tahun dan 5 tahun dalam
Penjara dan dikeluarkan dari militer.

Terima kasih kepada Cees Fasseur


9 december 2011 nu.nl Excuses over Rawagede
BALONGSARI – De Nederlandse ambassadeur in Jakarta, Tjeerd de Zwaan, heeft vrijdag namens Nederland excuses aangeboden voor het bloedbad dat Nederlandse militairen in 1947 in het dorpje Rawagede op Java aanrichtten.

Hij zei voorts dat hij hoopt dat de schikking die Nederland heeft getroffen, zal helpen het hoofdstuk te sluiten.
De Zwaan bood de verontschuldigingen aan in de Indonesische en in de Engelse taal in een toespraak voor het monument dat aan de slachting onder mannelijke dorpelingen herinnert.
Half september bepaalde de rechtbank in Den Haag dat Nederland aansprakelijk is. Negen nabestaanden krijgen een schadevergoeding van 20.000 euro per persoon.

De bij de zaak betrokken advocate Liesbeth Zegveld zei vrijdag in het dorp onder meer dat ook zij als juriste en als burger excuses aanbiedt, ook al kan niemand de schade vergoeden van wat toen is gebeurd in het dorpje Rawagede. Het ligt en oosten van Jakarta en heet nu Balongsari.
Een onderzoekscommissie van de Verenigde Naties noemde het Nederlandse militaire optreden daar een jaar later ‘opzettelijk en meedogenloos’.

May 4th is the National Memorial Day in the Netherlands. We should always remember that in history many war crimes and crimes against humanity are committed. Now we acknowledge the importance of making apologies by those who where liable that those wrongdoing happened.

I like to make my apologies for that lawyers makes things unnecessarily complicated,
where a sorry would be so much more appropriate.

“When sorry seems to be the hardest word”
I first heard this song in 1976 on the radio where it was broadcast to honor the “Mothers of the Plaza Mayo” who are still looking for their missing sons and daughters, victims of the Military Dictatorship 1976-1983 in Argentina.
Now I would like to dedicate this not only to those Mothers but also to the victims and survivors of the war crimes committed by Dutchman in Indonesia 1945-1950.

How wonderful it would be if our new King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima would do the same and apologize,
Say Sorry to the victims and survivors
even if sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Michael Boelrijk, Sorry I am a lawyer


About Mr.Boelryk

Sorry I am a lawyer.
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