Conflict & Justice

Dutch to pay for 1947 Indonesia bloodbath


Leader of the Indonesian National Party Achmed Sukarno (1902-70) demanding independence from the Netherlands in an undated photo. Indonesian independence from Dutch colonial rule was achieved in 1949 after a bloody struggle.



Nearly 65 years after a brutal massacre during Indonesia's independence struggle, its former colonial power will pay off victims of a 1947 massacre that left hundreds dead.

According to the Associated Press, courts in The Hague have ordered the Netherlands to compensate its former colony, Indonesia, for a village attack deemed "deliberate and ruthless" by the United Nations.

Dutch soldiers had long ago acknowledged "violent excesses" in the village of Rawagedeh, now known as Balongsari. Almost all of the male villagers were killed, according to the BBC.

Executions there were considered necessary by Dutch colonial forces battling a guerilla insurgency for Indonesian independence, which was finally achieved in 1949.

But court rulings are now poised to force the Netherlands to pay seven surviving widows. 

"This means that the state can't just sit in silence for 60 years waiting for the case to go away or the plaintiffs to die and then appeal to the statute of limitations," the widows' lawyer said, according to the AP.

The amount of financial compensation is yet to be determined.

At its height, the Dutch empire controlled South Africa, Aruba and Indonesia, a core supplier of the Netherlands' lucrative spice trade. Indonesia attempted to shake Dutch rule after World War II, but continued fighting off colonial troops in brutal guerilla battles.