^ here it is:
Netherlands Apologizes — At Last
| December 10, 2011
Balongsari, West Java.
The Dutch government has formally apologized for a massacre in the village of Rawagede 64 years ago, giving surviving residents hope for a fresh start in the West Java village at long last.
Dutch Ambassador to Indonesia Tjeerd de Zwaan, speaking in the now renamed village of Balongsari, said the 1947 massacre of at least 150 boys and men was an example of how Dutch-Indonesian relations could go “so wrong” and assured the community that the apology had the broad support of people in the Netherlands.
The apology comes on the anniversary of the Dec. 9, 1947, massacre after a long legal battle by survivors and widows.
Dutch troops entered Rawagede during Indonesia’s war for independence. They killed men and boys as young as 13 as their families and neighbors were forced to looked on.
Dutch officials claim 150 people were killed, but activists and locals say the death toll was 431.
The apology follows a landmark ruling at a civil court in The Hague in September, which ruled the Dutch state was responsible for the executions.
It ruled in favor of seven widows and a survivor of the massacre who took the case to court.
The court rejected the Dutch government’s argument that no claim could be lodged because the Dutch statute of limitations of five years had passed, calling it “unacceptable.”
The villagers of Balongsari have marked the anniversary of the massacre since 1996. De Zwaan attended this year’s ceremony and said: “In this context and on behalf of the Dutch government, I apologize for the tragedy that took place in Rawagede.”
He issued the apology in English and then in Indonesian, which elicited loud cheers from the gathered villagers.
“I come here not only as a representative of the Dutch government,” he said. “I come here as a representative of the Dutch Parliament and the Dutch people.
“I hope that by reflecting together on what happened that day we will also be able to turn together to the future and all its opportunities for close, productive cooperation between the two countries.”
In addition to the apology, the Dutch government is compensating the widows and families of those killed with a payment of 20,000 euros ($26,700).
Liesbeth Zegveld, the Dutch lawyer for the widows, welcomed the apology, but added that no amount of money could compensate for the loss the women and families had suffered.
One of the widows, 80-year-old Tijen bin Tasim, said she would use the money to buy a house for herself. “I also want to buy a rice field so I can grow my own food,” she said.
Wanti bin Dodo, 93, said she didn’t know what she would do with the money. “I’m old, I don’t really need anything,” she said.
Ade Swara, the head of Karawang district in West Java, where Balongsari is located, said it was not appropriate to raise the issue of compensation at the same time as issuing the apology.
“What is important is the apology and the admission that what took place 64 years ago shouldn’t have happened,” he said.
Ade said that this could set a new precedent for bringing closure to similar cases throughout Indonesia.
He said he wanted his administration to be involved in ensuring the widows receive the compensation money.
“If we want the money to get to the widows, the administration should be involved in distributing it,” Ade said.
Batara Hutagalung, one of the activists who represented the widows, said the apology was a long time coming and was the result of a protracted protest. The widows had petitioned to appear before the Dutch Parliament three times.
Batara added that the activists had not received any money from the Indonesian government to fund their legal battle.