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Dutch make historical gesture: foreign minister to independence day AMSTERDAM (THE NETHERLANDS) - Of all the anniversaries marking the end of World War II, one of the most difficult for the Netherlands is the ragged conclusion of the war in Indonesia, the former Dutch colony that declared itself a sovereign nation 60 years ago this month. For the first time, the Dutch government is sending a Cabinet-level official, Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, to Jakarta to join the Aug. 17 Independence Day celebrations - a deliberate yet grudging move meant to paper over a longstanding historical dispute.

The Dutch have maintained that the former Dutch East Indies remained under its colonial umbrella until 1949, when Holland yielded sovereignty following years of negotiations and "police actions" against what they called revolutionaries. Even now, the Cabinet decision last week to send Bot was couched in reservations, falling short of formally recognizing President Sukarno's 1945 independence declaration and refusing to fault Dutch forces.

"The government values Indonesian independence day as a historical fact, not a judgment or condemnation of the police actions," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Judith Maas. The statement reflected what one expert called "an internal trauma" in coming to terms with the violent separation from Indonesia after 350 years of colonial rule.

Accepting 1945 as the date of independence "means the military conflict was an international conflict, and no longer an internal affair," said Henk Schulte Northolt, of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies in Leiden.That could be read as admission that "we were wrong, in some ways, in this whole war," he said.

Posted in Politics @ 04 August 2005 14:00 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

User icon of Agung
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This is finally a good step to normal relations between Indonesia & Holland. I hope this will continue.

I wonder why this has taken so long. This, so called, "longstanding historical dispute" is from my perspective not something that reflects the feeling of the majority of the population of these countries. I mean how many people really remember something that happened 60 years ago.

Maybe governments are sometimes more led by their own (bad) memory than by democracy.
Emoticon: Confused

User icon of londoh
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On 04-08-2005 15:10 Agung wrote:
. I mean how many people really remember something that happened 60 years ago.
Emoticon: Confused

Just took at the attitude of young Dutch people towards the Germans, it has not much to do with "remembering"

User icon of Agung
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Do they remember 1973 or 1940-1945?

(For those who don't understand this: Holland lost in a major soccer game in 1973) My impression of Holland is that many negative feelings about Germans have more to do with soccer, than with WW II. Pathetic, isn't it. Emoticon: Cry

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Bad feelings (warfeelings) for Germany, only old people have. They lost relatives, friends etc.

I think sama-sama with indonesia.
Old people have bad experience. But if they keep telling this to the children, okey it keeps alive.

So lets play badminton

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Let us see things in a possitive way : so minister Bot comes to Indonesia on independance day. A good step in the right direction. Emoticon: Worship

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Minister Bot has been born and raised as a child in the Dutch Indies (he was born in Batavia/jakarta in 1937) and has always said he has a special band with Indonesia and is keen to improve relationship between Indonesia and the Netherlands. So this is a good step. I heared he even speaks bahasa (although im not sure)

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I still find it strange that indonesia sees 1945 as the year of independance, while it really is 1949 , as we all learned in school. Can somebody enlighten me?

User icon of sidia
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Yes , it is gesture but from whom.?
The government , the people , or Mr Bot. ?
Actually he is not invited , but he wil come as friend because the indonesian friends are celeberating their 60 yr merdeka.
As friend is everyone welcome.(see telegraaf 13 aug. 2005).
About yr historylesson , maybe a forgotten or manipulated part ?.
Do you have learn about your own independence act 21 juli 1581 ?
The Placcaert van Verlatinghe is an inspiration for the Americans(independence act 1776) and the Vlanderen (onafhankelijkheidsverklaring 1790).

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(Edited) Posted @ 13 August 2005 10:26

That he will come as a friend shows that he is keen to improve relations with the Indonesian government. Also, Indonesia's president Yudhoyono looks to be alot more openminded than some of his predecessors. Though I find it a pity he doesn't speak Dutch for the camera (as mr. Habibi did)

About the history lessons,ofcourse I know that Indonesia celebrates the moment of the proklamasi in 1945 (not the actual "fact" of independence andit's their good right, but independence was really not granted until december1949 when the the Dutch started "the united states of Indonesia", with great authonomy for the various regions, which unfortunately didn;t last long, at the end of 1950 Indonesia was already a republiek and the people with their various ethnical backgrounds surpressed.

But ofcourse this is not a good subject to argue about. let's celebrate the independence together with our Indonesian friends and hope we have a very good relation in the future, this would benefit both coutries and especially all the people that have bands with the both countries. I think it's a very good step of mr. Bot to come to Indonesia for this celebration.

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(Edited) Posted @ 13 August 2005 19:47

An interesting article today in the Jakarta post on this subject:

Bot's planned visit reflects changing Dutch attitude
Aboeprijadi Santoso, Amsterdam

It seems as if World War II has just ended for the Dutch. Six decades on, few of the legacies of the war and the independence of its former colony linger on. At the same time, the relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia, at the diplomatic level and between the two civil societies, has never been better.

Why, then, is Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot's plan to attend Indonesia's commemoration of the 60th anniversary of declaration of independence on Aug. 17, 1945 -- thus, the first official recognition by the Netherlands of Indonesia's independence date -- being prepared so discreetly?

The impact of Indonesia's independence struggle has indeed taken a long time to recede in the Netherlands -- just as, for example, it took the French great pains to resolve the crises following Algerian independence. However, while it is not unusual for independence struggles to cause enduring consequences on the part of the loser at home, there appear to be peculiar changes in the Dutch government's approach to its problems.

The Dutch postwar problems mainly arose from the fact that the Netherlands simultaneously faced the consequences of the war in Europe and in Asia. Whilst Dutch successive administrations have been preoccupied with the first, they grossly neglected the second. War victims in Europe (Dutch Jewish victims were proportionally the greatest in Europe) were honored and remembered much earlier and more conspicuously than any of the similar groups from the former Dutch East Indies. Only very recently, the government paid tribute and offered mea culpa to former Dutch prisoners of Japan and ex-soldiers, who had fought in Indonesia.

Among the most painful experience for the latter groups were a series of publications in the late 1970s, including official papers and government sponsored books on World War II, which accused the Dutch royal troops, the KL, of war crimes in Java in the 1940s (ironically, similar acts by the colonial troops, the KNIL, were not discussed). The author, Prof. L. de Jong, a historian sympathetic to the Indonesian cause, had apparently been intimidated so that he would change the text and remove the term "war crime" following a gulf of strong protests from groups of these ex-soldiers -- known as the Indie veterans.

In other words: Put in the European context, to charge the Indie veterans with being aggressors, who committed war crimes, would have put them on the same moral footing as the hated Nazi-Germans -- an unacceptable situation for soldiers who fought the war in the name of the Dutch Queen.

What is more, de Jong's books have actually became a standard-bearer. Although only two of its 12 parts deal with Indonesia, the Indie veterans' anger was great. When they were finally offered financial compensation for their sufferings in Japan-occupied Indonesia, it was far too little and too late, compared to what Nazi victims received. But, "truly, our objection," some of them told this writer in 1987, "is that de Jong's stories became official".

It was this hurt esprit de corps and great sensitivity among the Indie veterans that the Dutch government has had to carefully consider ever since dealing with its past in Indonesia.

For, these veterans had meanwhile found consolation, protection and political strength in the liberal-conservative party VVD and, in particular, in the person of Prince Bernhard, Queen Beatrix's father, who was also a general and World War II hero. The 1980s and 1990s were thus their heydays. Even Queen Beatrix's wish to visit Jakarta on the very anniversary of Indonesia's independence on August 17, 1995, was heavily resisted. Her state visit only took place four days later. Similarly, the idea of then Minister Jan Pronk, the enfant terrible of Dutch politics, to recognize Aug. 17 as Indonesia's independence day -- instead of Dec. 27, 1949 -- has never met with any success.

So, why is Foreign Minister Bernard Bot now trying to do just that -- albeit more cautiously and prudently?

The obvious answer is that the Indie veterans have now become older, their number smaller, and are much less active. Crucially, with the death of Prince Bernhard on Dec. 1, 2004, they have lost their great patron.

Other factors include Bernard Bot's personal aspects. Born in Batavia (now Jakarta), he went through the Japanese prison camp in Cideng -- a factor the Indie veterans must consider before anything else. Bot, who has got along well with the present day Jakarta leaders, seems well equipped to start a course toward rectifying the historic Dutch mistake. Presumably, he has the full support of Prime Minister J.P. Balkenende, who is also his party colleague. Since Balkenende, the first post-war born Dutch PM, is free from any wartime issues, he and Bot are viewed as a good duo to accomplish the mission of a former colonial master.

Nevertheless, Indie veterans' sensitivity still has to be reckoned with. Just hours before he flies to Jakarta on Monday Aug. 15, Ben Bot, accompanying the Queen and the Prime Minister, will attend the commemoration of Dutch servicemen and families, who died during the war in Indonesia. In doing so, he will thus pay his respects to the Indie veterans while paving the way for his mission in Jakarta.

Next, what could be a better moment for such a mission than now with Indonesia's new democracy and its first directly elected president? And in keeping with its tradition as a salesman, the Netherlands is likely to be interested in improving its investment here while looking at new business.

Finally, perhaps the most significant in terms of its domestic politics, for the first time there appears to be a willingness among the broad spectrum of political parties, including the former patron of the Indie veterans, the VVD, to officially recognize Aug. 17, 1945 as the day Indonesia gained independence.

At least five parties, including the major ones, have specifically told the Indonesian Section of Radio Netherlands that they are willing to support if the Dutch government is to embark on such a course. Which indicates that, for them, too, the war is indeed really over.

Minister Bot is expected to take the first significant step. More should follow.

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User icon of sidia
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Dear friends ,

"Prof L de Jong --- had apparently been intimdated so that he would change
the text and remove the term war crime-------) "

Is Sejarah Belanda also manipulated ?
Please accept it and try to live with it . It is a part of you.

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the work of Prof L de Jong has always been controversial , as he was a well known typical leftish socialist. Especially the 2 books about Indonesia are considered "coloured" to say the least.

User icon of sidia
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If Prof L de Jong works always been controversial , what is the value of his work ?
Or only his 2 books ?
In plain duth : toppunt van selectiviteit.

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ok it has been said. The Dutch wil from now on accept the date of 17 august as the date Indonesia celebrates independence, but importantly NOT recognise this date. There are not going to be any excuses for the police actions , but mr. Bot will say that the lead to independence could have been more peacefull.

Sorry for the police actions are not right, because the Dutch were fully justified to restore law and order and protect the civilians in the chaotic after war bersiap period where thousends where kiled and there was total maham and a vacuum of power. The Dutch had no other option then to military intervein with the knowledge of that days.

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bloodhoundfromhell, you aren't making sense, the Dutch never even should have been in Indonesia in the first place. If you justify their ocupation and politionele acties just because they didn't acknowledge soeverenity, then you also justify Nazi germany's ocupation of europe for they did not awcknoledge the soeverenity of those states and therefore by your logic had right to ocupie the countries they ocupied.

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(Edited) Posted @ 17 August 2005 07:35

elpadrino, perhaps you should read a little more about this period. I'm not going to talk about the fact that the Dutch Indies, where actually Dutch or not. That was a fact at that moment, if you like it , or not.

The reason for the dutch to military intervein, was that after the Japanese left it was maham and chaos. tens of thousens of people where murdered on the street and no-one was safe. You must count that in those days hunderdthousends of Dutch and Indonesian-Dutch people lived in the archipel.

The Dutch government needed to do something about this horrendous situatioun and could not stay aside. You cannot simply say the Dutch should not have been in Indonesia, because in those times it was our responsibility after more then 300 years of governence. Staying aside would then mean abbonandon all those that where in danger. Law and order needed to be restored, also in the interest of the vast majority of the Indonesians.

As I said before it is regrettable that also in these actions many where killed (on both sides) but you cannot say sorry for doing the right thing in the first place.

User icon of Agung
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(Edited) Posted @ 17 August 2005 18:06

60 yrs ago Indonesia was a part of the Netherlands, just like friesland, or st. Maarten now. It doesn't matter how far the land is away. Indonesia and Holland belong to each other and are divorced in an unfortunate way, everybody agrees to that. Mentally we still have a common history and we could benefit from this band, if we take away most pain from the past. Bot is just doing that and I am happy for that. It makes our relation stronger and who knows in the future we can be one again, or at least be in one unity. (for example for trade or development) The Dutch will be happy and the Indonesian people will be happy, maybe once we Dutch and Indonesian all look back together to a common history with pride and no more disputes. The key is to look to the future and see the past as a moment of learning instead of a moment of alligations.

Today I will congratulate Indonesia for it's Independence and will accept this date ,even if it's the wrong date.

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