Indonesian widows get Dutch compensation, apology over 1946-47 killings

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The Dutch government said Thursday that it had compensated 10 women whose husbands were executed by its army between 1946 and 1947 on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

In a statement released in The Hague, the Dutch state said it will also publicly apologise for the crimes.

"Ten widows have received compensation for the executions of their husbands by the Dutch military," said the statement.

"The ambassador of the Netherlands, on behalf of the state, will present apologies for the summary executions," it added.

The move brings to an end a battle for justice for relatives of the victims.

On December 20, 2011, lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld said that the widows were seeking justice for the deaths of their husbands.

It was not possible to bring criminal proceedings as the crimes took place too far back. But a civil suit was launched and a settlement was finally reached, on the basis of a September 2012 ruling of another case on a similar atrocity.

Zegveld said that Sulawesi inhabitants claim that between December 1946 and February 1947, approximately 40,000 Indonesians were killed on the island by the Dutch army.

Investigations carried out by the Dutch media claimed however that between 3,000 and 5,000 people lost their lives.

"We're happy, but it is only one step in a larger process: the Netherlands must apologise for all the massacres and executions committed in Indonesia. They cannot simply apologise case by case," Zegveld told AFP.

"The widows have already received the money, it is a similar amount awarded in the Rawagedeh case" in which compensation reached 20,000 euros ($27,000) per person, said Zegveld.

In that case eight widows and one survivor seized by the Dutch in 1947 in Rawagedeh, a village on the island of Java, were awarded compensation following a ruling in The Hague last year which held the Dutch state responsible for the atrocity.

The Netherlands also apologised for the attack on Rawagedeh. Dutch officials say some 150 people were killed in that attack, but a support group and the local community say the death toll was 431.

Indonesia gained its independence in 1949.

© 2013 AFP

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