March 10, 2020 / 9:58 AM / 20 days ago

Dutch king apologizes for 'excessive violence' in colonial Indonesia

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Dutch King Willem-Alexander apologized on Tuesday for the “excessive violence” inflicted on Indonesia during his country’s colonial rule, the monarchy’s first such admission of regret to the Southeast Asian nation.

The Netherland's King Willem-Alexander and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo talk to the media during their meeting at Bogor Palace, near Jakarta, Indonesia, March 10, 2020. Antara Foto/SigidKurniawan via REUTERS

The apology addressed the violence by Dutch forces during the period from Indonesia’s declaration of independence in 1945 until 1949, when the Netherlands recognized it as an independent nation.

“I would like to express my regret and apologize for excessive violence on the part of the Dutch in those years,” King Willem-Alexander said at the presidential palace in Bogor during a visit to Indonesia.

“I do so in the full realization that the pain and sorrow of the families affected continue to be felt today,” he said in his speech, a copy of which was posted on the website of the Royal House of the Netherlands.

The Dutch government has previously apologized to Indonesia and paid some damages to survivors for violence carried out during colonial rule.

In 2011, Tjeerd de Zwaan, then the Dutch ambassador, apologized for killings in 1947 in a village in the province of West Java. Two years later, de Zwaan also apologized for killings in 1947 on the island of Sulawesi.

Last year, a Dutch appeals court in the Hague ordered the hearing of a lawsuit by five Indonesians who hold the Netherlands responsible for the execution of their fathers by Dutch soldiers in 1947.

During the four-day trip, the king and his wife Queen Maxima are set to visit the ancient capital of Yogyakarta and the Sebangau National Park in Indonesia’s province of Central Kalimantan on Borneo, according to the royal website.

In his speech, the king also offered condolences for seven people killed when two boats collided in Central Kalimantan during preparations for the royal visit.

Indonesia has agreed on new partnerships with the Netherlands on women’s issues, peace, and security, as well as on the control of contagious diseases, President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday.

From 1800 to 1949, the archipelago was a colony of the Netherlands known as the Dutch East Indies, and an important source of wealth, thanks to the trade in spices, precious metals and minerals.

Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies and Clarence Fernandez

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