King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has offered a historic apology for the violence shown by the Dutch during the Indonesian struggle for independence shortly after the Second World War.
He said, “In line with earlier statements by my government, I would like to express my regret and apologise for excessive violence on the part of the Dutch in those years. I do so in the full realisation that the pain and sorrow of the families affected continue to be felt today. It is a hopeful and encouraging sign that countries which were once on opposite sides have been able to grow closer and develop a new relationship based on respect, trust and friendship. The ties between us are becoming ever stronger and more diverse. That gives me great pleasure. And I know that this feeling is widely shared in the Netherlands.” King Willem-Alexander made the statement during a speech during the first day of the official State Visit to Indonesia.
King Willem-Alexander also placed a wreath at the Kalibata field of honour, where several victims of the war for independence from the Netherlands between 1945 and 1949 are buried. The Netherlands had colonised Indonesia, which ended by the Japanese invasion and occupation during the Second World War. Following the Japanese surrender, the Dutch tried to re-establish their rule after Indonesia declared its independence. The following struggle for independence would last until 1949 when the Dutch finally recognised Indonesia’s independence. In addition to the military dead, around 100,000 civilians were killed.
Later today, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will visit the Dutch field of honour at Menteng Pulo, where almost 4300 Dutch people are buried who died during the Second World War and the struggle for independence.