Dutch Compensation

Dec 19th, 2007, in History, by

Should Indonesia seek compensation from the Netherlands?

Should Indonesia seek Dutch compensation?

As I read more about the history of Indonesia, this question cropped up to tease me.

The question being this; should Indonesia demand compensation from the Dutch Government for their past atrocities and what they looted during their time in Indonesia?

I have neither come across any source which says that the Dutch have formally and unequivocally apologised for their past crimes against the Indonesians nor is there anything which says that Indonesia has absolved the Dutch.

The history of the VOC and the Dutch East Indies is filled with umpteen comments that relate about Dutch atrocities.

Comments such as this:

"It was the beginning of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia. ... In these outrageous expeditions countless atrocities were committed."

and this:

"For of all the countries, outside of Africa, that had suffered from colonialism, Indonesia was without a doubt plundered the most ferociously. When the Indonesian masses finally were able to declare their political independence, the rich archipelago was one of the most impoverished areas on earth."

and this,

"the Dutch had tried and ultimately failed to re-impose their colonial power on the country after World War II. In the process, the Dutch military were guilty of what official records call 'excesses' In the view of some who were there, these 'excesses' were nothing less than war crimes. The sense of denial and cover up is so strong, most Dutch historians won't touch it."

and this:

"Wim, a Dutch soldier with the rank of corporal was stationed in Western Java in the Bogor area. He saw the 'police action' in Indonesia as morally wrong and refused to shoot people. He refused to be in a position of some authority and asked to be relieved of his corporal's responsibilities. Accordingly, the commanding officer demoted him to serve as an ordinary soldier.

Wim's memories connected with experiences of that period were deeply repressed and disturbed him many years later when he was an older man. He witnessed much human misery, saw friends killed and innocent Indonesians slaughtered. Mutilated bodies were a common sight."

and this:

"This wall of denial has only increased over time. There is a general silence about the murders committed by the Dutch Army in the name of the Dutch kingdom.
The Indonesians are trying to forget their painful past. So no one wanted to ask, no one wanted to find out what happened and no one did. The ghosts of colonial misrule and murder linger over Indonesia, even today."

Historical Facts

1602 - 1799. Indonesia was "ruled" by the Dutch VOC, which were a combination of Dutch Companies.

1800. Dutch formally declared the archipelago as the Dutch East Indies under direct rule of the Dutch Government.

1949. Dutch were forced in by International pressure to recognize Indonesia's Independence declaration in 1945.

Additional details of Indonesian History Timeline: 1602 - 1949

1602, March 20th. Dutch companies combine to form Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC); led by Heeren XVII representing different regions of the Netherlands; States-General gives VOC power to raise armies, build forts, negotiate treaties and wage war in Asia.

VOC establishes post at Gresik.

The Dutch East India Company was given most of the powers of a sovereign state, partly because communication between the Netherlands and Asia was so slow that colonial activities simply could not be directed from Amsterdam.

1798. Dutch government revokes charter of VOC, assumes its debts and assets.

The VOC was losing money to corruption and political intrigues. By the end of the 1700s, it was fully bankrupt. On January 1st, 1800, it ceased to exist.

1800, January 1st. VOC formally dissolved; properties revert to Dutch government.

More of these excerpts from "Timeline of Indonesian History" can be seen at http://www.gimonca.com/sejarah/sejarah02.shtml


Compensation from the Japanese Government was once thought to be beyond any hope for those comfort ladies who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese Forces during their Occupation.

After several generations and with the details of Dutch atrocities either forever lost or progressively becoming blurred, is it beyond any hope for Indonesia to demand compensation from the Dutch?

I am not aware if Indonesia considered it and representation for compensation was made to the Dutch Government.

Assuming that Indonesia did in fact request for compensation but did not succeed, the Dutch attitude finds a similar comparison from an observer's remark. It was about the gift that Queen Beatrix's gave to Indonesia during her official presence in Indonesia's for celebrations of their 50th anniversary of Independence.

~ and drum roll please....
The Queen presented the Indonesian people with a Friesian cow. It must have been her pet cow and it probably sat beside H.R.H Beatrix on Royal Dutch Airline - all the way to Indonesia.

"A cow and not a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh. Very rude. That's part of the Dutch soul, this rudeness."

the observer berated.

In the case of the Dutch, I do not know what a Friesian cow symbolises. I do know what a cow symbolises for the Hindus but then again, Indonesia is not predominantly Hindu. Oh well, it was better a cow than a Trojan Horse.

It could well have been a Dutch way to inform the Indonesians that if they hoped for any compensation, they would have to wait till the cows come home. However, the Dutch would mock and have their Queen to bring at least one cow home to Indonesia with their sentiment,

"In the name of William of Orange! be thankful for that."

By the way, anyone knows what has happened to that "royal" Friesian cow?

What about Dutch financial donations/loans, (not compensation)? I read the following. It relates to what happened 16 years ago.

"Multilateral aid to Indonesia was long an area of international interest, particularly with the Netherlands, the former colonial manager of Indonesia's economy. Starting in 1967, the bulk of Indonesia's multilateral aid was coordinated by an international group of foreign governments and international financial organizations, the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia. The IGGI was established by the government of the Netherlands and continued to meet annually under Dutch leadership, although Dutch aid accounted for less than 2 percent of the US$4.75 billion total lending arranged through the IGGI for FY 1991."

Note how small was the Dutch amount. *brings out my calculator.....4.75 billion x 2 percent = 95,000,000 tops,
but it was LESS than 95 million said the article. PEANUTS compared to what the Dutch plundered from Indonesia for 350 years.

Anyway, it went on to say that

"the IGGI was disbanded. The Indonesian government decided not to accept further financial assistance from Holland because the Dutch government intervened too deeply in its domestic political affairs. The World Bank formed a new consortium called the CGI (Consultative Group on Indonesia) to take over IGGI's role. Holland was not invited to join the CGI, and it has not become a member until today."

However, no matter how ludicrous the question might be plus the fact it would have other ramifications because the Dutch are not the only colonialist throughout the history of mankind, would compensation be possible?

As an aside comment regarding corruption in Indonesia vis-a-vis Indonesia's colonial past.

Aristotle once said:

"If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development."

Having read what was the cause for the demise of the VOC, I have this remark to make.


"The VOC was losing money to corruption and political intrigues. By the end of the 1700s, it was fully bankrupt. On January 1st, 1800, it ceased to exist."

Therefore, apart from the human sufferings that the natives endured during the Dutch colonial period, is it tenable that corruption in post independent Indonesia is something the Indonesians witnessed and inherited from 200 years of VOC presence and presumably throughout the remaining 150 years of Dutch presence thereafter?

134 Comments on “Dutch Compensation”

  1. avatar Oigal says:

    Oh Deta, I just want Cuk’s and people like him to return the money like leeches and who seem to think other Indonesians are not important. Only Cuk a legend in his own lunchbox thinks he speaks for Indonesians as a whole.

  2. avatar brewester says:

    The hardest matter to’ swallow ‘about the Dutch atrocities is the Durch hyprocacy and cover up
    that is now part of their national psyche.Say’ it did not happen ‘often enough and eventually everyone will believe you.I have some Dutch friends whom I like very much,
    however they make it a habit to criticise EVERY other nation and person in of the most minute detail and can not possibly understand that they are worse them selves.
    They criticise the British Empire for the few atrocities it comitted during the gradual development to self rule- while they themselves comitted heanous atrocities
    during their stay in Indonesia.They hit first and MIGHT ask questions later. They deserve a hammering in the’ international court’ of public opionion. However they have been masters of the cover-up and smokescreening.


  3. avatar Arie Brand says:

    That is not the Holland I hear and read of. On the contrary, it is my strong impression that the present generation is bending over backwards to acknowledge these things and to sun itself in the comfortable illusion that it is infinitely superior to that of their grandfathers and earlier ones.

    But I am not going to be drawn into a discussion on these matters, apparently an evergreen for this blog, again. Here is most of what I had to say on it:



    Incidentally, is Brewester by any chance one of the aliases for Purba Negoro?

  4. avatar nobody says:

    there never was any dutch compensation for what they did in 350 years to Indonesia. To add insult to injury, the dutch actually managed to make indonesian govt. pay for their colonization war cost.

  5. avatar Arie Brand says:

    See above.

  6. avatar ijukj says:

    there never was any dutch compensation for what they did in 350 years to Indonesia. To add insult to injury, the dutch actually managed to make indonesian govt. pay for their colonization war cost.

    Yeah, It’s typically Dutch govt. behavior that time Rakus dan Serakah (Greedy) even Indonesian economy was heavily damaged by war with Dutch in 1945-1949, They still want to Squeeze Indonesia to forced Indonesia “PAY” the Dutch according Dutch–Indonesian Round Table Conference, On October 24, the Indonesian delegations agreed that Indonesian would take over approximately 4.3 billion Guilders of Dutch East Indies government “debt”.


    either VOC,Dutch Government and Dutch East Indies gov. were MUCH-MUCH WORSE for murderd,massacre( Ex.: Thousand Chinese were Butchered in 1740 and Thousand Banda people were Beheaded by Samurai collaborated with VOC in 17th) ,Slavery(Deli etc.) ,Tanam Paksa( Cultuur Stelsel), Agresi Militer(They say Politionele Actie…later rawagede massacre) and Many others…

  7. avatar Oigal says:

    ijuki: You are obviously very well informed so I am just curious, how much compensation is Indonesia paying to East Timor? Also would be very curious how much revenue generated vs return for the provinces of Papua, Kalimantan and Sumatera?

  8. avatar ijukj says:

    You are obviously very well informed so I am just curious, how much compensation is Indonesia paying to East Timor? Also would be very curious how much revenue generated vs return for the provinces of Papua, Kalimantan and Sumatera?

    FYI, East Timor “forced” to unite with Indonesia because of Western Countries, Fretilin which pro ET independence is komunis. Other parties like Apodeti and UDT which pro unifying with Indonesia attempted a coup. So you can’t blame indonesia coz indonesia actually not giving attention till portuguese abandoned ET. And also pressure from western countries to Indonesia to unite independent communist state ET with Indonesia.

    Indonesia has spent More, More to build ET economy although ET is poor natural resources and Very Little revenue for Indonesia. But it heavily damaged in 1999 war. Indonesia is no longer Centralism after New Order era, so It’s not always depend on Jakarta but local government in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Papua etc.

  9. avatar Oigal says:

    I thought East Timor was pretty rich in natural resources, I guess those working on the sunrise and greater sunrise oil fields are in for a shock. Fretilin was/ is more socialist than communist nor was East Timor Communist at the time of the Indonesian Occupation.

    A war in 1999? A coup? Please elaborate as I thought it was an orgy of state sanctioned destruction. Who was sponsoring the Militias in ET?

    So essentially you are saying Jakarta doesn’t take the lions share of the revenue from the provinces anymore?

  10. avatar ijukj says:

    Yes, in indonesian, East Timor like “buah simalakama” , very Inbalanced between spending > renvenue , Jakarta has spent much for ET with also western country/international community concerning about violations of human rights in ET.

  11. avatar Oigal says:

    Indeed it would appear you are correct ijuki, there was a very significant ‘inbalance’ between revenue and income. May I suggest that the first place for us to start looking would be the “Timor Gap Treaty” . Perhaps we could see how many billions were siphoned off to Jakarta and Australia (not Australia’s finest moment but that is pretty much accepted now by Australia with a large degree of shame, too bad about …) Any idea what pitiful amounts actually made it back to the people of East Timor?

    As an aside, I bet you are aware that Papua contributes over 3% of the entire nations GDP and it would be difficult to convince anyone that a equal share has made it back to the people of Papua in terms of development or otherwise but perhaps you can enlighten them.

    There is no doubt Jakarta spent many millions in East Timor (although as we agree, that pales into insignificance compared to what was ripped out), but like you I am dismayed to say that the vast majority of funds was spent on maintaining a brutal and overbearing and unwanted occupying force in the country. Anyone who has been to East Timor would know very little was done in the way of development for the people.

    I would still be interested in how you describe what happened in 1999 as a “war” as 79% per cent of the population voted for independence. As the vast majority of the populace were dirt poor and unarmed, it would not seem difficult to work out who was behind the destruction and who should be paying compensation but it would seem very difficult to spin it as a war or coup.

    I found it curious you would mention human rights violations along with East Timor and Indonesia. I may have missed it, perhaps you could help me, how many Indonesia Officials Military or otherwise have actually served time for abuses that occurred in East TImor? I believe that a number of senior politicians including possible presidential candidates and TNI personal have to be very careful if they travel outside of Indonesia as they are wanted on International arrest warrants is that correct? I am not aware of anything that Indonesia has actually done besides a couple of minor militia thugs thrown to the wolves, perhaps you could point out some of the wonderful achievements that I have missed. If you ever do get the chance to meet with a senior military person who served in East Timor ask them about the joys of Aturo Island.

    Oh just looking back I see you you mention “Apodeti” once again perhaps you could confirm the story that Apodeti was supported and supplied by Indonesian Intelligence agencies primarily B*K*N under Operasi Komodo or the fact the UDT party was pressured and essentially owned by very senior figures in Jakarta. Surely that cannot be true or meet the non interference principles we hear so much about.

    Any word on the missing 100,000 -200,000 people missing from a population of 800,000?

    I could be wrong but screaming about compensation from colonial nation seems a bit weird when the screamer has just continued the trend.

  12. avatar Vincent Suparman says:

    One day when I was only six year old in 1970. My grandpa used to teach me Dutch. Ik was nog klein maar weet nog wel. Since 1992 I have visited the Netherlands three times. My first visit was in July 1992. My last visit was in September 2008. I like the Netherlands and its cities such as: The Hague (Den Haag), Scheveningen, Delft, Nijmegen, Breda, and Asten. It has been my dream that Indonesian Government will be willing to put the Dutch Language as official one along with Our Bahasa and English. Otherwise, as you might have noticed, many young Indonesians do not speak Bahasa well. They are more familiar with Bahasa Betawi, loe, gue, ente, dll. It would be better to have Dutch spoken in Indonesia that both the Dutch and Indonesian goverments may be able to build a better Indonesia or Dutch Indies.

  13. avatar Vincent Suparman says:

    I believe that history will return. The seven distinct states in Nusantara will be reestablished. It is now just about time when it will take place. Two out of those sevent states have already begun to struggle and gain independenc from Indonesia, namely Acheh in the west that has enforced Syariah Law and West Papua in the extreme east. In the last two decades the Jakarta has been in its weaknest role and unable to navigate the country. Even worse, at least two of 17000 islands was transfered to Malaysia a few years ago. Many people have been waiting to see the day when those 7 states comes back put the Dutch language and English as official languages, and Malays and Indonesian as a langua franca. For the Dutch people, be prepared, please!

  14. avatar Vincent Suparman says:

    I think Indonesian people still need the Dutch people to organize the county in order to build Indonesia better.

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