Ambassador will attend commemoration of Rawagadeh bloodbath

18 November 2008

Ambassador will attend commemoration of Rawagadeh bloodbath

A majority in the Dutch parliament has voted to support the proposal from SP Member of Parliament Harry Van Bommel to send the Dutch ambassador to the commemoration of the massacre in the Indonesian village of Rawagadeh. "I am very pleased that parliament wishes to see the highest representative in Indonesia of the Dutch government pay a visit to the commemoration. This could be the long-awaited beginning of a recognition of the crimes committed by Dutch military forces during the conflict."

The commemoration in Rawagadeh, a tiny village in Java, takes place on 9th December. On that day in 1947 Dutch troops murdered around four hundred people. They were taking revenge for their failure to find an Indonesian independence fighter in the village. Now just a small group of relatives of the victims and one survivor remain alive. They are asking for recognition of the crimes committed in the conflict, and for atonement. They insisted on the presence of a high representative from the Netherlands at their commemoration as an important step in the process of reconciliation. The Dutch government has up until now been extremely reticent in relation to this process. Not until 2007, sixty years after the event, was a junior official sent to the meeting.

Van Bommel hopes that in addition to the ambassador, Dutch army veterans, who were at the time conscripted to fight in Indonesia, will accept the outstretched hand of the people of that country and that some of them will travel to the commemoration in Rawagadeh. “I will personally pass on the good news to the representatives of the people of Rawagadeh," Van Bommel said.

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