During his visit to Indonesia, Dutch King Willem-Alexander apologised for the excessive use of violence on part of the Netherlands during its colonial rule in Indonesia. This apology comes as a surprise to many.
In his speech for a press conference, the King acknowledged and lauded Indonesia’s independence and continued: ‘at the same time, it is a good thing that we continue to face up to our past. The past cannot be erased, and will have to be acknowledged by each generation in turn.’
Acknowledging the ‘pain and sorrow of the families affected’
The King continued: ‘in line with earlier statements by my government, I would like to express my regret and apologise for excessive violence on the part of the Dutch in those years. I do so in the full realisation that the pain and sorrow of the families affected continue to be felt today.’
— Koninklijk Huis (@koninklijkhuis) March 10, 2020
Interestingly, according to RTLNieuws, the Royal House reporter did not believe that formal apologies would be issued by the king, as the entire government would have had to agree- which probably wouldn’t have been the case. Furthermore, the Indonesian government had never asked for an apology.
Fostering friendly relations
Earlier this morning, the king placed a wreath on the national hero field in Jakarta, where the resistance fighters who battled for independence between 1945 and 1949 against the Dutch are buried.
The King added: ‘It is a hopeful and encouraging sign that countries which were once on opposite sides have been able to grow closer and develop a new relationship based on respect, trust and friendship. The ties between us are becoming ever stronger and more diverse. That gives me great pleasure. And I know that this feeling is widely shared in the Netherlands.’
The Dutch have more recently taken responsibility for their actions in Indonesia- just last year, the Court of Appeals in the Hague allowed for the relatives of Indonesian men who were summarily executed during the Dutch colonial rule to have their case heard. Read more on that here.
Should the Netherlands be doing something else in terms of reparations towards Indonesia? Let us know in the comments!
Feature Image: Arlington National Cemetery/Wikimedia Commons