THE HAGUE (February 17, 2022) – The results of the Indies-research project have just been presented. According to the researchers, The Netherlands would have structurally used extreme violence in Indonesia, while The Hague looked away. Hans Moll, chairman of the Federation of Indo Dutch (Federatie Indische Nederlanders, FIN), is very critical. The presentation confirms the one-sidedness of the investigation according to Moll,.
“The research focuses on Dutch (extreme) violence and has magnified this violence. The Indonesian extreme violence, such as the violence during the Bersiap, was brushed to the side with a partial investigation. The results are therefore incomplete and create an incorrect picture of the decolonization period in the former Dutch East Indies” says Moll. He is now calling for an independent investigation into Indonesian violence. It comes as no surprise that the research is indeed one-sided. A brochure and the previously leaked title of the report already pointed in that direction.
Three weeks ago, the NIOD also seemed to acknowledge the one-sidedness in the Telegraaf, although the institute later stated that “the newspaper would have drawn rather selectively from the answers that we have officially issued”. The fact that the notorious and for (Indo-)Dutch critical Bersiapperiod was downplayed with a partial investigation was already known for some time.The report now published is therefore grist to the mill of critics. From the start of the investigation, there have been strong objections to, among other things, the biased attitude towards the Bersiap and – by extension – the involvement of Bersiap deniers in the investigation. The relatively small number of researchers assigned to the project also arouses suspicion. Concerns increased when the researchers announced in a statement that they would “reconceptualize” the Bersiap. According to the researchers, however, that reconceptualization was not “intended to ‘play down Dutch suffering’, as some fear”. That statement was actually always implausible, because from the outset the Bersiap was described on the website of the research project as “a complex period embroiled in ambiguities and myths”.
Halfway through the research project, the one-sidedness of the study started to shine through, something that was aptly illustrated during a conference where a selection of initial results was presented. A sub-study on sexual violence during the decolonization period was also reviewed. To the great surprise of veterans of the Dutch East Indies and (Indo-)Dutch that research was exclusively focused on sexual violence committed by Dutch soldiers, while the characteristic sexual violence of Indonesians during the Bersiap was completely disregarded. Mainly (Indo-)Dutch women were victims of this violence, in which Indonesians invariably had their breasts cut off and their genitals pierced with bamboo spears. According to the responsible researcher, however, this violence was not part of her research assignment.
Partly because of this, the research project has been accused of being set up one-sided and biased from the outset. Skepticism has been further fuelled by the fact that individual researchers also regularly seek out the controversy. For example, Anne-Lot Hoek argued in favor of naming streets and squares after Soekarno, while the outspoken pro-Indonesian Remco Raben actually called for the removal of Dutch statues. Rémy Limpach’s bizarre claim that “racism is in the DNA of KNIL officers” also caused furious reactions. The criticism continue to swell when it turned out that Fridus Steijlen was the auctor intellectualis of the one-sided frame of the “anti-Dutch propaganda film” The East. Confidence hit rock bottom recently when Raben publicly embraced the bizarre plea to drop the historic term Bersiap posed by Indonesian Bersiap denier Bonnie Triyana.
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Update Thursday, February 17, 2022 14:58h:
Prime Minister Mark Rutte offers deep apologies to Indonesia for extreme and systematic Dutch violence. “This research is reason to articulate those apologies here and now for the systematic and widespread extreme violence on the part of the Dutch side in those years and the previous cabinets who incessantly looked the other way, I make a deep apology on behalf of the Dutch government today to the people of Indonesia ” said Rutte in a first statement.
Update Friday, February 18, 2022 12:00h:
Various political parties have responded to the research results and the apologies that Rutte has (again) offered to Indonesia on behalf of The Netherlands. It is striking that only Geert Wilders of the Dutch Freedom Partij (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) calls Rutte’s apologies “inappropriate“. “Where are the apologies from the Indonesian side for their violence against the Dutch and the Bersiap?” said Wilders. In doing so he expresses the feeling of many veterans and (Indo-)Dutch. Wilders calls the “condemnation of Dutch soldiers a “falsification of history”. “We have to stand behind our veterans” writes Wilders on Twitter.