Dutch king apologises for violence during Indonesian independence war

Dutch king apologises for violence during Indonesian independence war
Netherland's Queen Maxima and King Willem-Alexander arrive at Kalibata Heroes Cemetery complex during their visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 10, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

JAKARTA - Dutch King Willem-Alexander apologised to Indonesia on Tuesday (March 10) for "excessive violence" during the former colony's independence struggle in the 1940s.

The King made the remarks during a state visit to the country with Queen Maxima after a ceremony with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in the capital Jakarta.

Indonesia declared its independence on Aug 17, 1945, following a brief wartime occupation by the Japanese and several hundred years as a Dutch colony.

"The past cannot be erased, and will have to be acknowledged by each generation in turn," the King said in a joint statement.

In the years after the independence proclamation, "a painful separation followed that cost many lives... I would like to express my regret and apologise for excessive violence on the part of the Dutch in those years", he added.

"I do so in the full realisation that the pain and sorrow of the families affected continue to be felt today."

In 2013, the Dutch government publicly apologised to Indonesia for mass killings by its army in the 1940s war of independence, in the first general apology for all executions.

But the apology on Tuesday was a first by a Dutch monarch, according to two sources, including a senior Indonesian government official.

The Dutch embassy in Jakarta declined to comment.

Previously, the Dutch government announced compensation to the widows of those who died in mass killings.

But not all have received funds, according to the Committee for Dutch Honour Debts.

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"Our country suffered a lot from Dutch crimes and they have to pay for what they have done," said Mr Jeffry Pondaag, the committee's Netherlands-based chairman.

Also on Tuesday, the Dutch royals said they were "deeply saddened" at news of a fatal boat crash that killed seven Indonesian government employees and injured 20 others, including two Dutch embassy staff.

The accident happened as officials secured an area in Indonesia's section of Borneo island where the royal couple were to visit this week.

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