Part of a series on the
|History of Indonesia|
The Rawagede massacre was committed by Royal Netherlands East Indies Army on 9 December 1947 in the village of Rawagede (now Balongsari in West Java), during Operatie Product. Forces of the Royal Netherlands Army were deployed in the East Indies to intervene against the massacres of Dutch, Eurasian and Chinese population by Republican army and Indonesian militia Bersiap. They were battling Indonesian Republican army fighters TNI and militia forces seeking independence for Indonesia or engaging in criminal activities. Almost all males from the village, amounting to 431 men according to most estimates, were killed by the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army, since the people of the village would not tell where the Indonesian independence fighter Lukas Kustario was hiding.
Although Dutch Army General Simon Hendrik Spoor recommended that the responsible officer, Major Alphons Wijnen, be prosecuted, no criminal investigation was started. A report from the United Nations published on 12 January 1948 called the killings "deliberate and merciless".
On 8 September 2008, 10 survivors of the massacre officially held the Netherlands responsible for the massacre. The state lawyer replied in a letter published on 24 November 2008, that the Netherlands "deeply regrets" the massacre, but that it believes the term for prosecution had expired. This has drawn some criticism among members of the States-General of the Netherlands, as well as among leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, which argued in an editorial that there is no such thing as a statute of limitations on war crimes.
In December 2009, the 10 survivors decided to sue the Dutch state in court. They were represented by lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Anne Scheltema Beduin of Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden Advocaten (today: Böhler Advocaten). The court decided on 14 September 2011 that the crime, due to its extraordinary nature, is not subject to a statute of limitations, and thus held the Dutch state fully accountable for the damages caused. Following settlement negotiations with the Dutch State, the plaintiffs/widows of the men executed in Rawagedeh were awarded 20,000 euros each in compensation; the State furthermore agreed to extend its formal apologies for the massacre.
On 9 December 2011, the Dutch ambassador to Indonesia stated: "We remember the members of your families and those of your fellow villagers who died 64 years ago through the actions of the Dutch military... On behalf of the Dutch government, I apologize for the tragedy that took place." Only 9 relatives are still alive and will receive 20,000 euros ($27,000) compensation each, but there is no schedule for these payments.
The ruling of the judge also included that the Dutch state was responsible because it has the duty to defend its inhabitants, which also indicated that the area was part of the Dutch East Indies in contradiction of the Indonesian claim of 27 August 1945 as its date of independence.
- Decision by the district court of The Hague (14 September 2011), ECLI:NL:RBSGR:2011:BS8793
- South Sulawesi Campaign
- NRC Handelsblad - Widows sue Netherlands over Indonesia massacre
- NRC Handelsblad - No statute of limitations on Dutch past in Indonesia
- RNW - Court: Dutch accountable for war crimes in Indonesia
- "Dutch state apologizes for 1947 Indonesia massacre". December 9, 2011.