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Dutch State appeals Yaseman’s case of torture

Press release: Dutch State appeals Yaseman’s case of torture

Committee of Dutch Honor Debts (K.U.K.B.), October 11, 2018

Early this week, on Monday October 8, 2018, the Dutch state announced that they are appealing the case of Yaseman. In 2014, the since passed Javanese man held the Dutch state liable for serious torture he experienced during the 1945-1949 independence war. This past July, the court in The Hague ruled that the Dutch state indeed carries responsibility for several instances of torture that Yaseman put forth. He was the first Indonesian victim of war heard in court, via Skype in 2017. Yaseman himself did not get to hear the ruling of the Dutch judge. He died a few weeks after his testimony at the age of 89, in his home town of Malang.

On July 18 this year, the court in The Hague stated as proven that Dutch soldiers smashed the skull of the captured Yaseman with a stick in 1947 and put out a cigarette on his head. The ruling forced the state to pay Yaseman’s relatives 5000 Euros in damages. The state is now appealing this.

Liesbeth Zegveld, Yaseman’s lawyer: “It is a known fact that the Netherlands engaged in large scale torture during the independence war. Of all the victims, only one has registered with the court, and that is Mr. Yaseman. It is a shame that the state will not take responsibility, even for this one case.”

Chairman of the Committee of Dutch Honor Debts (K.U.K.B.), Jeffry Pondaag, who stands up for the Indonesian and Dutch conscientious objectors responds as follows: “The state appeal proves that the Netherlands still takes no responsibility for what happened there. Despite all the publications showing how the Dutch war crimes were structural and widespread. Beyond a doubt, this is a violation of human rights of the first order.”

Just this past year, the Dutch government earmarked 4.2 million Euros for a 4-year study into violence in the Indonesian independence war. Together with Ms. Francisca Pattipilohy (92), Pondaag wrote a critical open letter to the government questioning the independence of the research. Pondaag: “What does it mean if this same government chooses to appeal in a case where they were to pay a mere 5000 Euros? This shows no goodwill whatsoever toward Indonesian victims of war. What’s worse, the Netherlands Institute for Military History (NIMH), one of three institutes to conduct the research, falls directly under the Ministry of Defense and supports the state in opposing and rejecting claims like Yaseman’s.”

The historic background is that Yaseman, 18 years old in 1947, was arrested by Dutch military south of the East-Javanese town of Malang, before he was held captive for a year. He was suspected of being an Indonesian independence fighter. In his thirteen months of captivity, he was tortured in a variety of ways, for example by waterboarding. This is a torture technique that involves large amounts of water applied by hose. Yaseman testified in a July Skype hearing that Dutch military kicked his stomach after waterboarding, forcing him to vomit up the water again. He was also electrocuted with the use of a field telephone. In an earlier TV report of the show Altijd Wat (2013, “Always Something”) he indicated that the electric shocks were the most painful. Dutch military also put out burning cigarettes on his head, hit him on the head, hit his skull with a piece of wood, and tied him up for hours in the hot sun. They also let him sleep in his own feces and urine. Through lack of proof, the state was only convicted of beatings with a stick and putting out of cigarette. In other words, not for waterboarding or for torture through electric shock.

See at min. 16:25 Yaseman’s testimony in 2013: