THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Netherlands’ government announced Monday that it will pay compensation to the children of Indonesian men summarily executed by Dutch forces during the southeast Asian nation’s struggle for independence in the 1940s.
The decision follows a court ruling in March that awarded compensation to both widows and children of men killed in 1946-7 by Dutch forces in what is now the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi.
A compensation scheme already existed for the widows of men summarily killed by Dutch forces in the former Dutch East Indies during the battle for independence. Monday’s announcement extends it to children who can prove that their fathers were summarily executed.
In a letter informing the Dutch parliament about the decision, Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten wrote that they will not appeal the March court ruling and that they are offering “an accessible instrument” to allow children of summarily executed men to claim 5,000 euros ($5,890) compensation.
Relatives of victims of the Dutch campaign against Indonesian independence fighters have for years been fighting for recognition and compensation.
In 2013, the Dutch government apologized for atrocities committed by its forces in fighting between 1945, when Indonesia declared its independence from Dutch colonial rule, and 1949, when the Netherlands finally recognized Indonesia’s independence.
In March this year, Dutch King Willem-Alexander apologized for his country’s aggression during its 350-year colonial rule of Indonesia.
Indonesian authorities claim some 40,000 people were killed during the country’s battle for independence, while most Dutch historians estimate the dead at about 1,500.
As far back as 1968, a Dutch report acknowledged “violent excesses” in Indonesia but argued that Dutch troops were conducting a “police action” often incited by guerrilla warfare and terror attacks.
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