Colonial Crimes

Dutch East Indies 1945-1949

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The Nuhanovic Foundation supported litigation by several relatives of men who were unlawfully executed by Dutch military personnel during the Dutch occupation of Indonesia. The killings took place in the South Sulawesi region in the years 1946-47, during the so-called ‘police actions’ to suppress the drive to Indonesian independence.

On 25 March 2020, the District Court of The Hague awarded reparations to the widows and children of eleven men summarily executed by Dutch soldiers. The case concerns killings carried out in a mass execution in Suppa, and other executions in Bulukumba and Sidenreng Rappang from 1946-47. A large number of victims was interviewed via ‘telehoren’, and the historian Robert Cribb was engaged to evaluate the evidentiary value of evidence provided. The court found that these deaths had resulted from misconduct of military personnel.

The court awarded €10,000 in non-pecuniary damages to the son who witnessed his father’s execution, in recognition of the psychological harm done by the shock. The other children and widows were awarded material damages only, reflecting the lost income that would have been earned by their fathers and husbands as the main bread-winners. As the men were mostly farmers, earning about €100 per year, the damages were very small by Dutch standards, ranging from €3,600 to €12,300.

This press release by the district court of The Hague includes a short summary of 11 other cases that have been or are beingheard by this court, in relation to other.

See also the section on Completed Cases.