Wed, 05 Apr 2000

Main issues of Dutch colonialism

The exchange of views on the issue of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia has deteriorated a bit into the personal salvos of sneering, while the main issues actually are: 1. The colonization of the Indonesian archipelago by the Dutch East Indies (VOC) and later the government of the Netherlands, under the crown of the House of Orange, was a deplorable inhuman act and a negative page in the history of Holland (I am not a Christian). 2. To categorize this as such can be done simply by the measure stick of the Christian religion of the people and its leaders in the Netherlands before and after Luther's Protestant movement, and later on by the Charta of the United Nations. 3. The sins committed were: a) siphoning the wealth belonging to the indigenous people through dwangarbeid (forced labor); b) underpayments; c) killings; d) the banning and jailing of nationalists like Bung Karno and Bung Hatta; e) belated and discriminative education for "inlanders"; f) splitting society into the category of vreemde oosterlingen (foreigners hailing from Asia), which was the root of later pogroms against Chinese Indonesians). 4. Thus what is not at stake is simply: a) an apology and recognition of this evil period; b) compensation and payback in monetary form for the wrongdoings, partly like the German scheme now undertaken by Graf von Lambsdorf for forced labor, because in this case the wealth acquired by the crown of the House of Orange must be included in the package; c) the return of antique and historical items in the musea, films, private household items and so on in Holland or brought to Holland before 1945.