On 27 January 2016, the District Court in the Hague held that a then 18-year old Indonesian woman who was gang-raped by five Dutch soldiers during the purging of the Javanese village Peniwen on 19 February 1949 is entitled to €7,500 in immaterial damages. Just like in the cases concerning the summary executions, the District Court has rejected the State’s argument that the claim in the rape case was time-barred.
The District Court also appointed an expert in cases concerning the widows and the children of men who were summarily executed by the Dutch army in the former Dutch East-Indies, namely the Australian historian Robert Cribb. Cribb is fluent in Dutch and is specialized in the Indonesian war of independence. The District Court has assigned him the task of researching the evidentiary issues in the cases concerning the unlawful executions on South-Sulawesi in 1946 and 1947. In that regard, he may also conduct research in the Dutch National Archives in The Hague. The District Court has also ordered the Dutch State to submit its own research and findings with regard to each widow/child to the court.
Good news for the Indonesian widows today. The Compensation Scheme for the summary executions of their husbands in the post-colonial war with the Netherlands has been extended by two years. This development comes in reaction to a letter from my colleague Brechtje Vossenberg and myself.
The Civil Settlement Scheme on the basis of which widows of summary executions of the same nature and gravity as Rawagedeh and South-Sulawesi can request the Dutch State for compensation, has been extended by two years.
The Civil Settlement Scheme was announced by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence on 10 September 2013. Widows who wish to qualify for compensation under the Scheme, originally had to submit their requests thereto to the State before 11 September 2015. That deadline has now been extended.
This development comes in reaction to a letter from lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Brechtje Vossenberg, requesting for an extension of the deadline. The lawyers represent several widows (and children) of the State’s summary execution policy in the former Dutch East Indies.
Yesterday, I received a first copy of the book ‘Vergeten door het Vaderland’ (‘Forgotten by the Fatherland’) by Wilma van der Maten. The book describes the stories of Dutch children and their mothers who were left behind by the Dutch government after Indonesia obtained independence in 1945. Some may say: let the past rest. But the past is never the past. Not for those who were left behind and whose lives were swept away, but nor for the Fatherland that has no choice but to remember and take responsibility for its actions.
I was recently told by journalist Manon van den Brekel that the Dutch State has lists containing the names of Indonesian men and boys who were executed by Dutch military in 1947. These lists are kept in Dutch national archives. This is shocking as many Indonesian widows and children are currently engaged in court procedures trying to prove that their husbands and fathers were indeed executed.
In an interlocutory judgment rendered today, the district court of The Hague held that the Dutch State is liable for the damages of both the widows and the children of men who were summarily executed in the former Dutch East Indies. In 2011, the district court of The Hague had already held that invoking the statute of limitations vis-à-vis the claims filed by widows of summarily executed men and one survivor from the town Rawagadeh, was unacceptable by standards of reasonableness and fairness. Today, the court held that invoking prescription with regard to the children is (also) contrary to good faith.
Click here for the press release on the website of the Netherlands Judiciary (available in Dutch).