Politicians meet victims of massacre in Indonesia
Several members of a Dutch parliamentary delegation to the the Netherlands’ former colony of Indonesia talked to the survivors of a massacre by Dutch soldiers in the Java village Rawagede in 1947 on Friday, just hours before leaving the country.
Earlier it seemed unlikely the meeting would take place. The parliamentarians were divided about whether to meet the survivors who are demanding a formal apology and compensation from the Dutch state.
While the majority of the delegation felt a meeting would be "inappropriate" in light of the legal action, some members of the group decided to go ahead.
One of those was Harry van Bommel, a member of parliament for the Socialist Party, who said he was determined to visit the village which has been renamed Balongsari.
Just hours before their return to the Netherlands, Van Bommel and Joël Voordewind, member of parliament for the orthodox Christian party, met Saih, the only man who survived the massacre, and the widows of two men who were killed.
Labour parliamentarian Harm Evert Waalkens also joined the talks at the delegation’s Jakarta hotel, despite saying earlier that he was against the meeting.
Dutch soldiers looking for resistance fighters allegedly killed over 400 people in the village on December 9, 1947. A foundation which represents civilian victims of Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia is now claiming compensation from the Netherlands on behalf of one male survivor and nine widows who still live in the village.
After the meeting, the members of parliament said they had agreed to try to get a number of Dutch war veterans to visit the village. "It would be nice if these people come and talk to us. Maybe next time they will bring some money," said Saih.
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