November 29, 2020

Dutch state apologises for 1947 Indonesia massacre

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Surviving widows and relatives of men killed in a notorious massacre gather for commemoration in Rawagede, West Java, Indonesia, Friday, Dec. 9, 2011. After six decades of waiting, relatives of men killed in a notorious massacre during Indonesia's bitter struggle for independence finally got what they wanted: An official apology from the Dutch state.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

RAWAGEDE, Indonesia (AP) — After six decades of waiting, relatives of men killed in a notorious massacre during Indonesia’s bitter struggle for independence finally got what they wanted: an official apology from the Dutch state.

Tjeerd de Zwaan, ambassador to Indonesia, apologised on his country’s behalf Friday before hundreds of villagers in Rawagede, scene of the Dec. 9, 1947 killings of up to 430 boys and young men by Dutch troops.

The crowd, tense with emotion, erupted in cheers and applause.

Tears rolled down the cheeks of surviving widows, now in their late 80s and early 90s, some of whom had doubted they would ever hear those words.

“It makes me feel my struggle for justice was not useless,” said Cawi binti Baisa, who was 20 when her husband of two years headed to the rice paddy in the morning never to return.

Dutch troops clinging to their retreating colonial empire arrived in Rawagede just before dawn 64 years ago and opened fire, sending sleepy residents scattering from their homes in panic.

The soldiers were looking for resistance leader Lukas Kustario, known for ambushing Dutch bases. When villagers said they didn’t know where he was, nearly all the men were rounded up and taken to the fields.

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