Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | 12:22 WIB

INDONESIA CELEBRATES 77 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE: Where do we stand against our former colonizer?


BATARA RICHARD HUTAGALUNG is an Indonesian political historian and commentator . After graduating from highschool in Denpasar, he studied at the University of Hamburg, majoring in sociology, philosophy and psychology.He served as General Chair of the National Committee for Defending State Sovereignty and National Dignity (PKNMB) and chairman of the Dutch Honorary Debt Committee (KUB) He is also the founder of the Indonesian Reform Alliance (ARI). In 2019, he published a book entitled Indonesia Was Never Colonized.

ABDACOM began to build negative opinions against Indonesia in the international community by portraying Indonesia as a human rights violator. Past incidents overlooked during the Cold War, such as the G30S abortive coup blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), were again brought to the fore. 

A campaign was launched to galvanize global opinion that Indonesia had committed gross human rights violations in East Timor since 1975. With this strategy the Netherlands and its allies succeeded in separating East Timor from the Republic of Indonesia. In 2002, East Timor became an independent country under the name Timor Leste. 

On August 15, 2005 an agreement was reached between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), in which GAM stopped its separatist movement and participated in the rebuilding Aceh post-December 2004 tsunami. GAM officially left UNPO in 2005. But then the Dutch recruited the third generation of Acehnese in Europe. This third generation formed a new organization called the Aceh Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF) which officially became a member of UNPO in the Netherlands in 2015. 

Since 1992, every year in the Netherlands, Australia and England, before September 30, groups that want to divide the Unitary Republic of Indonesia would “weaponize” the G30S incident. This eventually led to the 1965 International Tribunal held in The Hague, Netherlands, on November 13-15, 2015, which handed down a verdict that Indonesia had committed genocide against PKI members in 1965. This verdict was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, as a recommendation. 

After successfully separating East Timor from the Republic of Indonesia, the next target is West Papua. Efforts to separate Aceh and Maluku from the Republic of Indonesia are still being carried out using the same modus operandi as in East Timor, namely by accusing that Indonesia committed human rights violations in West Papua. In 2017, the Dutch government sent the Dutch “Ambassador of Human Rights” Kees van Baar to West Papua to monitor allegations of human rights violations committed by the Indonesia. Then he complained to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. 

In 1999, a movement was initiated to counter negative opinions against Indonesia in the international community. The descendants of the 1945 freedom fighters, supported by members of the 1945 generation, the intelligence community as well as several former ambassadors/diplomats, established an organization aimed at reopening the “black pages” of history committed by the Dutch military and its allies during their military offensives against Indonesia between 1945-1949. 

They began by suing the British government for the military aggression carried out by the British in East Java, which led to the bombing of Surabaya on November 10, 1945. At an international seminar held at the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) on October 27, 2000, British Ambassador Richard Gozney made a statement on behalf of the British government and people. First, he apologized for the incident, and second, he admitted that the British politics at that time was to help the Dutch retake their colonies. 

On March 8, 2002, these activists established an organization called the National Committee to Defend the Dignity of the Nation (KNPMBI) and on March 20, 2002, at the 400th anniversary of the founding of the VOC, KNPMBI demanded that the Dutch government apologize for its colonization, slavery, mass killings, and plundering of Indonesia’s resources. 

Then on May 5, 2005 they formed an organization called the Committee of Dutch Honor Debt (KUKB). On May 20, 2005 it submitted a petition to the Dutch government to: 

1. Formally (de jure) recognize Indonesia’s Independence on August 17, 1945. 

2. Apologize to the people of Indonesia for the colonization, slavery and war crimes conducted by the Dutch troops during its military aggression between 1945-1949. 

3. Take responsibility for the destructions caused by the military aggressions. In other words, the Dutch government must pay war reparations to the Republic of Indonesia. 

On 15 December 2005, the leadership of the KUKB brought the massacre in Rawagede village to the Dutch parliament in The Hague. On December 9, 1947, Dutch troops massacred 431 residents of Rawagede village, near Karawang, without any legal process. They are all civilians, non-combatants. KUKB has succeeded in demanding compensations from the Dutch government. Since 2009, the Dutch government has spent around Rp20 billion to develop Rawagede village and compensated the widows of Rawagede and Westerling massacre in South Sulawesi. 

Having demanded apology from the Dutch government since 2002, at the Rawagede massacre commemoration on December 9, 2008, the Dutch Ambassador Nikolaos van Dam only expressed his regret, but no apology. On December 9, 2011, the Dutch Ambassador Tjeerd de Swan finally apologized for the Rawagede massacre, but stressed that the apology was only for the said incident, not the others. 

In March 2022, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte officially apologized for the atrocities committed by the Dutch army in Indonesia between 1945-1949. However, he did not give the de jure recognition for the independence of the Republic of Indonesia on August 17, 1945 nor did he apologize for Dutch colonization in Indonesia. 

The Dutch government is well aware that if it recognizes the de jure independence of Indonesia on August 17, 1945, then the so-called first and second “police actions” which refers to the Dutch military offensive in 1947 and 1948 constitutes a military aggression against an independent and sovereign Republic of Indonesia. The consequences will be heavy and far-reaching. First, the Dutch government will have to pay war reparations to Indonesia and secondly, the Dutch veterans can be charged with war crimes. 

Read: Sociodrama “Gelora Bangsa” by Reenactor Bangor at Formulation of Proclamation Text Museum

According to the International Criminal Court, there are four crimes that don’t have a statute of limitations (expiration date), namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. 

As long as conservative groups in the Netherlands do not stop their efforts to divide the Unitary Republic of Indonesia and the Netherlands remains unwilling to formally recognize Indonesia’s independence on August 17, 1945, the non-military war between the Republic of Indonesia and the Dutch kingdom will continue, and will surpass the record 80-year war between the Netherlands and its former colonizer Spain. 

History will record whether the conservative forces in the Netherlands succeeded in dividing the Republic of Indonesia, or on the other hand, the Dutch government had to formally recognize the independence of the Republic of Indonesia on August 17, 1945 and pay war reparations to Indonesia. (BATARA RICHARD HUTAGALUNG)


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