Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The Indonesian village of Rawagede was the scene of a massacre perpetrated by Dutch soldiers in 1947, shortly after the colony declared its independence and troops were sent in to restore order.
The village claims 431 men were shot, while a Dutch government investigation into war crimes in Indonesia puts the figure at 150.
One man who survived the massacre and nine widows of victims still live in the village, which has been renamed Balongsari. Last week, a letter was sent on their behalf to the Dutch government asking for a formal apology and compensation. Their request is still being looked at.
Socialist Party member of parliament Harry van Bommel says he suggested a meeting with survivors twice but that the proposal was voted down by the rest of the delegation.
The delegation, made up of seven members of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, is in Indonesia to discuss a range of issues until October 19.
Delegation chairman Henk Jan Ormel, member of parliament for the Christian Democrats, says he feels a meeting with the survivors, or their representatives, would be ‘inappropriate” while legal procedures are still ongoing.
“A visit from an official Dutch delegation could create false expectations”, Ormel said, adding that he did not want Rawagede to become the focus of the visit to Indonesia. “A lot more has happened in this country,” he said.
Van Bommel, who feels the Netherlands should apologise and pay compensation, had wanted a “reconciliatory meeting”. “It would have been the first Dutch high-level visit,” he says. “For the survivors of Rawagede, this is far from over.”
The members of the delegation did not want to meet Batara Hutagalung, founder of the committee which filed the claim for compensation, either. Hutagalung says he finds it “odd” for parliamentarians to come to Indonesia to talk about human rights and not pay any attention to Rawagede.
“It is almost as if they are blind in one eye: they only see the atrocities perpetrated by others,” he said.
Sander Chan said he could no longer function within the party because he did not want to rule out forming a relationship with another man.
The CU’s official standpoint on homosexuality is that officials must always be answerable to the Bible as the word of God, which many in the party take to mean that practising homosexuals should be banned.
The European reaction to the crisis differs from that of the Americans not only financially, but also in the manner in which it is presented to the public.
By René Moerland
The governments of France, Germany and Britain have decided that European leadership and unity are necessary to confront the international financial crisis. The policies must be flexible enough to deal with each country's particular situation and at the same time fit within the framework of a coordinated plan for the entire community.
Following a meeting of leaders from the 15 euro-zone countries plus Britain in Paris on Sunday, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: "No country can face the financial crisis alone, the measures taken by one must not damage the interests of the other."
The European leaders have decided to make up to hundreds of billions of euros available to guarantee the massive temporary loans which banks provide to one another. However governments will charge 'commercial rates' for their guarantees. The idea is that healthy banks will profit from the measures and that failing managers will be forced to leave.
The Paris gathering was the first meeting of euro-zone leaders since the introduction of the European currency. They decided not to wait until all 27 European Union member states meet later this week, believing it would be easier and quicker to reach agreement on efficient action when fewer people were involved in the talks.
British prime minister Gordon Brown, whose country does not want to join the euro-zone, joined his European colleagues in Paris as the 'inspiring force' behind the plan of action.
At the start of the meeting, German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country has long opposed a European intervention plan, headed straight to the cameras to proclaim that a united approach would be "an important signal for the markets and the euro-zone".
The main points of the action plan are more or less the same as those agreed in Washington recently by the finance ministers of the G7 and thereafter by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Governments will provide all that is necessary to ensure the continued functioning of the financial markets and to ensure institutions have sufficient funds to provide investment loans to businesses and individuals.
The European reaction to the crisis differs from that of the Americans not only financially, but also in the manner in which it is presented to the public. Unlike the Americans, the European leaders do not want to give tax-payers the impression that they are "doing the bankers a favour", said Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the euro-group, the finance ministers of the euro-zone countries.
Juncker says European governments should be given a 'complete tool kit' so that each country can fight the crisis in its own way and in coordination with the other member states.
Suggestions that the European central bank should provide direct support to companies which are of vital economic importance – along the lines of the US rescue package – were rejected by the ECB’s president Jean-Claude Trichet as impractical because it would violate European regulations.
However the suggestion itself demonstrates that European leaders are looking for new ways to create a more united Europe. Juncker has been Luxembourg's finance minister since 1989 and has dealt with financial crises before the creation of the monetary union.
He says he has never before seen "such a far-reaching coordinated European effort". However he dismisses talk of a genuine European economic administrative system as "only for show" in a period of economic crisis.