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New Research – RTL Nieuws

Dutch government: new research to [Dutch] violence in Indonesia late forties

RTL Nieuws, 01 December 2016

There will be a new investigation to the Dutch violence in Indonesia that was committed during the late forties. Recently research revealed that Dutch soldiers used ‘structural violence’. Tomorrow the government is talking about a proposal for a new major study, as reported by sources to RTL News.

It is expected that the investigation will take some several years. Dutch soldiers used structural mass violence in the former Dutch East Indies, as historian Remy Limpach concluded in September after years of research. Limpach found evidence of several war crimes: torture, rape, killings and the burning of villages.

Structural violence

According to the researcher, not every Dutch veteran is guilty: the majority of the soldiers did not use excessive force, but thousands of incidents took place due to the lack of resources and manpower. Previous research in 1969 still used the term ‘excesses’, but in Limpach’s study he talks about ‘structural violence.’

It was Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koenders, who insisted on a new, large study to this period. Earlier he called the period of the [Indonesian] decolonization war rather a “black page in Dutch history.”

Opening archives

Hennis, the Dutch Minister of Defence, wants to avoid that Dutch veterans feel insulted by the investigation. Therefore, not only the actions of the Dutch will be examined, but the researchers will also examine the so-called ‘Bersiap period’. This is a violent period in the Dutch East Indies by Indonesian freedom fighters after the Japanese capitulation. The right-wing liberal VVD party insistently requested this, so that an investigation will not judge Dutch abuses of violence only.

The government is optimistic that Indonesia will cooperate and wants to open the archives too. Several agencies are responsible for the investigation. Including researcher of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) and Dutch Institute for Military History (NIMH). The expectation is that the Dutch government after the Cabinet meeting will announce the other institutions that will provide more researchers.


[Originally published in Dutch. Translated by Marjolein van Pagee. Please send us an e-mail if you think you can improve the translation:]