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Wounds of the past – Okezone

Wounds of the past shadowing the Dutch Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia

Indonesia and The Netherlands. Two countries connected through hundreds years of history, a relation that will be strengthened again after the visit of Dutch Prime Minister (PM) Mark Rutte to Indonesia on November 21, 2016. The topics on the agenda are diverse. Besides bringing hundreds of businessmen to Indonesia, Rutte also scheduled a visit to Semarang before he will meet the President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo (Jokowi) at November 23th. 22 November 2016 by: Randy Wirayudha

The first days will focus on economical issues as the Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on November 21. “So, the focus of the Dutch delegation that joined [Rutte] to Indonesia, such as the ministers and businessmen, is on economical interest as the clear main goal or priority of this visit,” Retno said.

Besides bringing a trade delegation, Prime Minister Rutte also brought the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liliane Ploumen as well as the Minister of Infrastructure Melanie Schultz van Haegen and Environment Minister Sharon Dijksma.

A part of the trade delegation and Dutch ministers stayed in Jakarta when Rutte flied to Semarang, Central Java at Tuesday November 22. The places that he visited are the Dutch War Cemetery in Kalibanteng, “Little Holland,” the old historical city and Lawang Sewu.

Not to forget the meeting with President Jokowi as well as the speech of Rutte in the Indonesian Parliament tomorrow. (See: The speech is unique according to Jeffry Marcel Pondaag, Chairman of the Committee of Dutch Debts of Honor. “I heard that he will speak towards our parliament, which is unique because no other president or prime minister ever spoke in our parliament before. Rutte has to be questioned about his intention to come here,” says Jeffry Pondaag to Okezone.

Dutch Prime Minister Rutte (centre) visiting Indonesia [photo by: Antara]

There are still unsolved issues between the two nations, linked through a number of past events; the period in which the Dutch undermined Indonesia’s proclamation of Independence on August 17, 1945. This is about the number of war crimes committed by the Dutch army, such as the events that took place in South Sulawesi, Rawagede (Karawang), Takokak (Cianjur), Tambung Sungai Angke (Bekasi), Rengat Riau, etc.

Until today the Kingdom of the Netherlands never officially acknowledged the Indonesian independence that was proclaimed on August 17, 1945. What the Dutch acknowledge is that Indonesia gained its freedom on December 27th 1949, after the Dutch-Indonesian Roundtable Conference. “Do they [the Dutch trade delegation] know that about two thousand people were executed in Indragiri River? If they only came to do business, it means that they never cared about Indonesian victims of war crime victims here,” Jeffry continues.

“Until now, the Netherlands never acknowledged the Indonesian Proclamation of August 17th 1945. If they recognize that, it means that they attacked a sovereign country and that is a war crime. Then the thousands of Dutch soldiers that were sent here, were illegal and that is also a war crime.” If those sensitive issues about the past remain unrecognized, then Jeffry Pondaag thinks that the Indonesian government does not need to cooperate with the Netherlands. If they really want to have a strong cooperation the Dutch government should not forget about their violations in Indonesia.

“They call it a bilateral cooperation, which is fine, but then you cannot forget about the past. According to me, we (the Indonesians) do not need the Netherlands. They need us and that’s why they come here. Unfortunately, our government also doesn’t have any concern about the past either. It is up to the president, however as an Indonesian I disagree. I have the right to disagree because I voted for him. It is okay to look forward, but don’t forget the past.”

“We don’t have to be afraid of the Netherlands. We don’t have to build cooperation with the Netherlands. We can make cooperation with other countries, such as Japan, China, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Russia. Just like the Jatiluhur Reservoir, which is built as a result of cooperation with Russia, not with the Netherlands.”

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