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Translation of article by Kareen Richard, first published in Dutch newspaper, de Volksrant by Gijs Herderschef – November 3, 2015

Seventy years after the end of World War II, the Netherlands will redeem its debt of honor to former civil servants, with regard to payment of overdue salaries owed civil servants and military personnel in the former Dutch East Indies during the Japanese occupation from 1942-1945.

Het Indisch Platform has lobbied for many years against the injustice done to 60,000 civil servants who were released from Japanese internment camps, mostly impoverished, and did not receive any assistance from their employer, the Government of the former Dutch East Indies and, indirectly the Dutch Government. During the 1990s, the Dutch Government, under Prime Minister Kok, conducted an investigation with regard to the legality of this claim. This was demonstrated to be true; however, no further action was taken.

Current Secretary of Public Health, Martin van Rijn, has entered into an agreement with Het Indisch Platform regarding a compensatory payment to those former civil servants who are still living. Approximately 1,100 survivors, most of whom are now over 90 years of age, are to receive an amount of €25,000 each.

As a note, Het Indisch Platform is a consultative committee of connected autonomous interests, associations, organizations and foundations affiliated with the Indisch community in the Netherlands.

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In response, by Inez Hollander Lake

The Token 1,100 – Great Gesture but at What Cost?

The Indo Project is delighted to hear that the Dutch government which hasn’t moved an inch for years on the Indische Kwestie, denying any back pay or reparations, has come forward to pay 1,100 remaining survivors (civil servants and soldiers exclusively).

But we have questions, for what are the conditions for closing this deal with The Indisch Platform? Does this mean the Indische Kwestie is closed once and for all? What about the many Japanese internees, relatives of those same soldiers and civil servants, who were interned, starved, tortured and killed because they carried Dutch passports? And what about the brave men and women who resisted the Japanese? In the Netherlands, resistance heroes were recognized, honored and received pensions after the war, but many who resisted the Japanese on behalf of their queen and country, never saw a penny. Their children, orphaned at times, and traumatized by the camps and the Bersiap were treated in a similar way. And what about the Dutch comfort women who seemed to have paid the ultimate sacrifice? Back pay is great, but not if it means that the topic of reparations for all is off the table.

We also ask why now? Now that ONLY 1,100 are alive and very advanced in age? How much time and red tape will it take to find these people fast enough before they die? (The Dutch government does not have a great record in tracking down victims or publicizing compensation: see Molemans’s book for which I wrote a review on The Indo Project).

So while grateful, we feel skeptical too. Yet, the fact that some money is now actually coming out of Dutch coffers, which once swelled with the huge profits of the Dutch East Indies, is a form of REAL RECOGNITION which has been 70 years overdue.

14 Comments

  1. About time,
    I can write a book about what the Dutch Gov. did not do.
    After serving 3 years as a OVWer (volunteer) in Indonesia I had to pay my own way back home with wife and child.
    I am 90 now and I still think the owe me.

  2. I have a question. What about the children of parents that were in the Dutch military during that time. My grandfather, my moms father was in the military at that time. He was killed during the Japanese occupation in Indonesia. My moms family never received help or a penny from the Dutch Government. My grandmother with 4 kids fled on her own. Is there any compensation for his service to his country for his surviving family?

  3. I want to emphasize that we have contacted several NL consulates in the country as well as the embassy in DC to get more information and instructions. However, it is clear from communications thus far, that this concerns SURVIVING members of the civil service and the military. The question is how many are left? Probably even less than 1100… The Indo Project will update you here on the site and through social media as soon as we have more info.
    Inez Hollander Lake

  4. Knowing mr. van Rijn’s reputation, it wouldn’t surprise me when this new arrangement only applies to those living in The Netherlands and not abroad or of new other nationality.

  5. IT feels like the Dutch government is barely paying lip service to this issue. I have had nothing but negative experiences when it comes to recognition for my mother and father, both who suffered in Japanese camps. My father as a soldier, my mother as a civilian. My father passed away last year, so it looks like he missed out on this one-time payout. And it looks very calculated and calculating of the Dutch to wait until that generation is dead or almost dead to grant a pittance. In my mother’s case, she was denied the Wuf and the Wubo, was told that she was never in an internment camp. The suffering she went through with Dutch bureaucracy and insensitivity meant she suffered at the hands of the Dutch as well as the Japanese. Sickening. The Dutch have such a reputation in the world as just (the International Court of Justice is in Holland) – but what they have done with the Indische Kwestie is shameful. There is no other word for it.

  6. WOW Het Indisch Platform has made great progress. I am 92 now. After surviving the camps and the Juno Maru sinking. Looking forward to the updates.

  7. The Indo Project is delighted to hear that the Dutch government , has come forward to pay 1,100 remaining survivors (civil servants and soldiers exclusively).

    I’m not delighted. Shame on the Dutch government and shame on You undersecretary Martin van Rijn. Reading the article in Dutch , I nearly laughed my head off as if I attending a soap opera.
    1.100 survivors of the 60.000 civil servants and military service men or 2%, I repeat less than two percent, gets what there right is.
    For the undersecretary Mr. van Rijn this is a moral argument (don’t laugh ,these are his own words).
    And only living persons after 15th of August are entitled to the € 25.000 tax-free of course. the undersecretary takes this Japanese calculator and says: precisely after 70 years. So these survivors are more than 90 years old. This is typically “going Dutch”. For the undersecretary it’s a bargain but for the Indisch Platform is more than poor.

    Only less than 2% get there right and for the under secretary, the case is closed. But to me as Generation 2.o and for the other 98% the case is still open. The Undersecretary can kiss …….

  8. Regrettably, both my parents have passed away. Both had suffered at the hands of the Japanese in both work camps and in interment . My father, a soldier was a prisoner for the entire period of the War. It’s appalling that their sacrifice, as Dutch citizens, go without the honorable recognition they deserve. What they went through impacted their lives forever.

  9. I hope that the people that are still alive will finally get the money that has been promised years ago.
    Thanks to the persons that will make it happen.

  10. My husband’s father was a civil servant (postmaster in Borneo) at the time of occupation. He had a wife and 4 children. His wife died while in the Japanese camps. My husband applied and received some compensation from the Japanese government some 10 or so years ago for the 4 1/2 years he spent while in the concentration camps. But nothing from the Dutch government for the 4 1/2 years he, his brother, his two sisters, his father and his mother, spent while in the concentration camps. His father is now deceased. His mother is deceased while in the camp. And unfortunately my husband is now deceased. So from what I have read all of the compensation that his entire family would have gotten is now not available to their heirs because they are deceased and their heirs are ineligible for presenting a claim. That is a shame.

  11. My mother and her family have all suffered in Japanese Interment Camps. My mother, who emigrated to the U.S. has since died and my biological father, who is 100% Dutch served in the Dutch East Indies as a Marine. I have never seen my biological father but he may have passed away as well. The suffering they went through is worth something, I am sure. But after some 70 years, NOTHING. As my mother’s only son and nearing my 70’s will there ever be justice? Will it happen in my lifetime? I had an uncle, who has since passed away also, who may have suffered from PTSD–we just did not know what it was. He has two sons who are getting up in age as well.

  12. Shame, or Same here…
    I was born in 1939, and at approx 3 years I went with my mother and sister into
    a Women’s camp. I was was still under 10 years of age, so went to the women and children’s camp, Solo, Halmaheira, Boemi, Semarang, etc…
    My parents have deceased, and I went with my wife to Australia in 1965
    and build up a family with children and grandchildren.
    No WUF, or other organizations… and still alive….
    Around the years of 1990 we had a lengthy procedure where JES was involved.
    ( Japanese Ereschulden organization) That eventually folded, too much talk and endless meetings, with the odd demonstration thrown in… No result or progress..
    Glad it is being stirred up again , and good luck to those still surviving .
    They deserved it… Thanks

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