The Dutch government of 1954 allegedly covered up a bloodbath in Indonesia, says Dutch daily de Volkskrant. The cabinet under Prime Minister Willem Drees did not prosecute Dutch soldiers for war crimes on the Indonesian island of Celebes (now Sulawesi) during the former colony’s war of independence.
De Volkskrant has accessed a special investigation committee's secret report, which until now had only been seen by researchers. According to the report, in 1946, a state of emergency was announced in South Celebes to curb revolutionary violence against the Dutch colonial power. Snipers had targeted Dutch troops. The Dutch elite units were commanded to restore order. They were also given the authority to execute opponents.
Over 3,000 Indonesians were killed in three months. Many faced summary execution. In one Sulawesi village, one day saw the end of over 300 people, which exceeds the number killed during the Rawagede bloodbath in 1947.
The report reveals that military, political and judicial leaders were all informed of the atrocities immediately. It does not state the reason behind the cabinet's decision not to prosecute. By this time, Indonesia was independent. A note by the chief of cabinet affairs says officers “went too far”, but that the “old affair should not be dragged up again”.
In de Volkskrant, historian Willem Ijzereef calls the decision a perfect example of a cover-up. The Dutch government knew perfectly well that the operation had been illegal and that it would not stand up to the scrutiny of wartime law.
Lawyer for the relatives of the Rawagade massacre Liesbeth Zegveld thinks the Dutch Public Prosecution Office should take action. The PPO says it would need to receive an official complaint first.
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