Friday, September 19, 2008


"I never thought they would kill us because we were just ordinary people," says Saih. "I only realised [what they were going to do] when they began the countdown... Een, twee, drie." Three soldiers started shooting the men in the back.

According to the village, the soldiers shot dead all the men – 431 people. It was summary justice, meted out as the men were running away or hiding in the river. In 1969, an investigation by the Dutch government into war crimes in Indonesia says 150 were killed in Rawagede.

Saih, now in his late 80s, is one of the 10 survivors and relatives who, 61 years later, are asking for an apology and compensation for the massacre in the Indonesian village of Rawagede carried out by Dutch soldiers on December 9, 1947.
Rawagede is one of the most notorious events in the history of Indonesian struggle for independence against the Dutch. Witness accounts from survivors (Dutch-Indonesian-Sundanese) say that some young males of 11-12 years old were among those massacred!

My father lived in Soerabaja - in the Dutch East Indies - in the 1930's. He never really talked about his experiences there and only confessed when he was older that he was ashamed of the treatment of his fellow countrymen toward the native population. Only now are the Dutch coming to terms with their colonial past and inherent racism.

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