Netherlands claim moratorium for war crimes in Indonesia

17 November 2010 by Linawati Sidarto

Survivors of a massacre by Dutch soldiers in an Indonesian village over six decades ago are demanding official apologies and reparations through a landmark court case ongoing in The Hague. The Dutch state claims that the case has exceeded its statute of limitation, but legal experts accuse The Hague of being arbitrary.

“We were told to sit on the floor in rows of seven. My father and brother were also there. When the Dutch soldiers didn’t receive the answer they wanted, they started shouting ‘just shoot them’. Then they started shooting us in the back.”

A frail Saih bin Sakam, 87, last week relived the fateful day on December 9th, 1947, when the Dutch military stormed into Rawagede, a small village east of Jakarta. The soldiers were looking for freedom fighters battling for independence from the Dutch. When the villagers refused to give them information, they rounded up all men, including teenagers, and executed them. According to Indonesian accounts, 431 men and boys died that day. The Dutch put the toll at 150.

Saih, the sole survivor of the massacre, was in the Netherlands to forge forward the civil suit he filed in December last year together with eight Rawagede widows, assisted by the foundation KUKB (committee for Dutch honour debts).

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