vrijdag 28 oktober 2016

Shame to you: Dutch army in Indonesia!

Many Indonesian and Dutch people still remember the 'Pronk Affair' of 1992 when Dutch Minister for International Cooperation and IGGI chair Jan Pronk uttered severe criticism to the Soeharto Government for its cruel oppression of freedom fighters and demonstrations for human rights in East Timor. More recently there is the action related to the finding and recognition of truth of the violence of the period 1965-1967 related to the beginning of the Soeharto regime after the bloody coup of 30 September 1965.
Now, however, the Dutch army itself is under attack because of increasing publications and debates about the cruelties, war crimes committed by many members of the Dutch army in the period 1946-1949 in Indopnesia. In 1969 a list of these crimes were already listed as 'excessen' to be understood as incidental transgressions of the use of violence. Two books have recvently been puiblished on this theme. One is by KITLV Director Gert Oost-Inhdië with a summary of 659 private documents (reorts, diaries, letters, published books) of former soldiers. They add many more war crimes to the list of more than one hundred cases of the 1969 report.
All kind of reactions are now coming. One is a congference, 16 november 2016 to be held in Amsterdam, Free University, under the title: The Churches and the War in Indonesia, 1945-1950. Various speakers will talk about the role of churches in this cruel process that ended colonial rule in Indonesia (with the exception of Papua).
I will give an overview of the Catholic history. There are two general considerations to be made: one if that the end of colonial rule did not so much affect directly religious relations. Dutch missionaries experienced problems, but in general they could continue their work, different from business people.
It is also interesting to see that the religious sentiments did not play an important role: it was not a fight between Muslims and Christians but between Indonesians and Duch.
UCAN, the site of information about Christians in Asia, yesterday had a report about the 'Javanese martyr', the priest Richardus Sandjaja, killed on 20 December 1948 by members of a militia which was probably Islamic of character. But in the description it was only said that they blamed him 'for cooperation with the Dutch'.

The picture above shows some people praying at the grave. It is believed that praying here may help women who want to become pregnant. There are also stories of people who saw their cancer stopped after praying at this grave in Muntilan. The Dutch who were killed at this and one other event during the perior of colonial war (one 20 December 1948,  and nine victims in Magelang on 1 November 1945. They are not officially recognised as 'martyrs' by the Catholic Church, because the process for this has been stopped.
Postscript on 3 December 2016: Yesterday the Dutch government took the decision to finance a great project for historical research about the war crimes. The project will take 6 years: the last victims will be dead probably at the end of that period. but some things put on paper properly!

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