PhD-candidate Hadi Purnama addresses the Dutch research team during the round table discussion at NIOD, January 31, 2019 (7 min. video):
Hadi Purnama assumes that the Dutch study on 45-49 will have an impact from legal perspective as well. Whether Dutch researchers are going to legally recognize 1945 as Indonesian independence date or not. Because even when they only acknowledge 1949 as the Dutch state does, it means that Indonesians can go to the Dutch court and rightfully ask for compensation as the Dutch court sees them as “colonial subjects” for the period between 45-49. Apart from that Hadi Purnama observes that international law has a colonial background as well. Even the UN acknowledged many colonial territories until the sixties. Purnama asks the Dutch researchers what they think about the legal consequences of their work and how this is defined in their research.
Subsequentely NIOD-researcher Peter Romijn replied Hadi Purnama’s question by saying that he finds it a very fascinating topic: “It is fascinating to think that the Dutch were operating under a changing international law system. And an international system of United Nations and everything. A new international World Order with a framework. And they were participating in Neurenberg and they [the Dutch] were participating in Tokyo. And at the same time they failed to recognize responsibility for them in the Dutch East Indies. Of course they recognized it in practice, they did not recognize it formally. On all levels, civil administrators, military people, legal people recognized on the Dutch side that things were going on like we had known here under the German occupation, as well as the Indonesians under Japanese occupation. So there was kind of a pushing a way of guilt by making it small. I have written an article that’s called “War crimes are the guilt of others.” Because you cannot imagine yourself to be guilty of war crimes. And this is the thing that has to be disentangled. So I love to sit with you and discuss the issue further.”
For his part Jeffry Pondaag finds the answer of Romijn a justification of the Dutch occupation. After which he asks the question that he always asks: “What right does the Netherlands have to think to own a country 18,000 away.”
Peter Romijn: “I don’t think I’m whitewashing in this case!
Gert Oostindie: “Because you posed this question so often, about how the Netherlands thinks to have the right… but nobody around this table thinks the Netherlands had the right for colonialism.
Jeffry Pondaag: “Well, why don’t you put it on your website?”
Gert Oostindie: “This is so self-evident.”
Jeffry Pondaag: “Just say it, to make it clear!”
Gert Oostindie: “I have written it down many times.”