War is never a clean business. Reports about war crimes are not welcome on the side of army leadership. This was also the case in the period of the Indonesian Revolution, when the Dutch tried to regain their colonial power in the colony after August 1945. the best known case is the Westerling terror in South Sulawesi, where villages have been destroyed and some three thousand innocent people were killed, but many other crimes have been attested and rejected by the Dutch government. Even Westerling was never brought to a criminal court. In June 1969 under leadership of historian Cees Fasseur an Excessennota (a report about 76 cases of war crimes) war presented to the government, but no consequences were formulated. Even the suggestion of socialist opposition leader of the time, Joop den Uyl, to start a more serious research with interviews of people who at that time were still alive was not successful. Parliament deemed it better to be silent and not to reopen the investigation and express excuses to the Indonesians and offer remuneration to the most clear victims. This report was written after psychologist Dr. J. Hueting had confessed on Dutch television that he had committed war crimes. Also sociologist Prof. J.Van Doorn started research and publications about this period, but without political consequences.
During the last two or three years human rights lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld has restarted this debate about Dutch war crimes. She pleaded for the few relatives of some 431 people killed by the Dutch army in the village of Rawagede in West Java. A Dutch court issued finally in 2011 a decision that compensation should be paid to the heirs of these people. In December 2011 the Dutch ambassador to Indonesia pleaded guilty in the name of the Dutch government and apologized for the war crimes. Nine relatives received € 20.000 each. Since then the debate has continued.
Last week, 10 July 2012, the daily De Volkskrant published two photographs of Indonesian men who were killed by the Dutch army, apparently without a proper court decision. The details of this case are still not clear, but according to specialists these pictures were the first to be known in public about executions by the army that have to be labeled as war crimes.
Today, Saturday 14 July 2012, a new interview with Dr. Joop Hueting appeared in the same newspaper. Here he tells again about war crimes. Among other stories he tells about "the case that a common soldier emptied his gun in a house of prayer. He runs crying to the place. The dead and wounded people were mostly women and small children. Inside it is a pool of blood, outside his colleague soldiers react irritated: how could he have done this? He was shooting as a madman, he could have hurted or even killed his fellow soldiers in this stupid action."
A second story by Hueting: in his house a statue of Lord Shiva is standing on a cupboard. It was taken from the house of an Indonesian during one of the military actions. The soldier had taken the statue of Shiva, but had left a grenade in the house that soon exploded after he had left the house with Lord Shiva in his hands..
Coming Saturday, 21 July a television programme is scheduled with some kind of a documentary television play, as if it is mid-1947 and now the truth about the real facts of this colonial war will be presented.
There is definitely now more openness, more consciousness about bad things that happpened. But its is very late. Even later than the openness about the Indonesian killings of 1966-1967.