Netherlands apologises for Indonesian colonial killings

Netherlands apologises for Indonesian colonial killings
Tjeerd De Zwaan.

JAKARTA - The Netherlands sought to "close a difficult chapter" with its former colony Indonesia on Thursday by publicly apologising for summary executions carried out by the Dutch army in the 1940s.

As children of some of the men who were massacred without trial looked on, Dutch ambassador to Indonesia Tjeerd De Zwaan offered a state apology during a ceremony at the Dutch embassy in Jakarta.

"On behalf of the Dutch government, I apologise for these excesses," said the ambassador.

"The Dutch government hopes that this apology will help close a difficult chapter for those whose lives were impacted so directly by the violent excesses that took place between 1945 and 1949."

He was referring to the years of the Indonesian war of independence, when the sprawling archipelago nation sought to shake off Dutch colonial rule.

The Hague had previously said sorry to the relatives of those in particular cases but it has before never offered a general apology for all summary executions.

Last month the Dutch government also announced that it would pay 20,000 euros (S$33,630) to the widows of those killed.

Special attention was given at Thursday's ceremony to the widows of men killed during a brutal campaign on Sulawesi island in central Indonesia.

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