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Debates Forum

  1. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    10 Dec '11 00:23 / 1 edit
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16104751

    http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/22/who-responsible-bersiap.html

    The Dutch government has apologised for a massacre committed by its soldiers in Indonesia in 1947, as the country fought for independence.

    Dutch ambassador Tjeerd de Zwaan spoke at a ceremony in Balongsari village, formerly known as Rawagede, where at least 150 people were killed.

    He said the massacre was a tragedy and apologised in English and Indonesian.

    Earlier this year, a court in the Netherlands ordered the government to pay compensation over the killings.

    The case was brought by relatives of those who were killed.

    Reports said the Netherlands would pay 20,000 euros to the relatives, but lawyers say the exact figure is still being negotiated.

    The BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Balongsari says the ruling is expected to lead to more claims from Indonesians who were mistreated during the Netherlands' colonial rule.

    Mr de Zwaan said he hoped the formal apology would allow the families of the victims of the tragedy to close an exceedingly difficult chapter of their lives.

    "On behalf of the Dutch government, I apologise for the tragedy that took place in Rawagede on the 9th of December, 1947," he said.

    When he repeated the apology in Indonesian, some relatives of the victims broke down in tears.

    The Netherlands had previously expressed regret over the killings, but never formally apologised.

    Most of current-day Indonesia was ruled by the Netherlands from the 19th Century until World War II, when the Japanese army forced out the Dutch.

    When the Dutch attempted to reassert control after the defeat of the Japanese, they met fierce resistance.

    The Netherlands finally recognised Indonesia's independence in 1949.


    What are people's thoughts on nations apologizing to other nations, or nations apologizing to people in other nations, or nations apologizing to people in their own nations? What have been good examples of this? Have there been any bad examples?
  2. Subscriber Kewpie
    since 1-Feb-07
    10 Dec '11 07:00
    In 2008 the Prime Minister of Australia delivered an apology to the aboriginal nations for the way they had been treated by the whites since 1788, Previous (conservative) governments had refused to do it because of fears that it would unleash an explosion of lawsuits from people claiming compensation, but that hasn't happened. If anything the reverse has happened, because our aboriginal people seem to be walking straighter and prouder as a result of the public acceptance by the Government that aboriginals had been unfairly treated for so many years.

    http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/politics/stolen-generations-sorry-apology.html
  3. 10 Dec '11 09:45
    In a way it is silly that people who had nothing to do with these crimes apologize for crimes they did not commit. Nevertheless, it's good to recognize mistakes from the past, and right the wrongs if possible.
  4. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    10 Dec '11 10:06
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    In a way it is silly that people who had nothing to do with these crimes apologize for crimes they did not commit.
    So you see it as unconnected and innocent individuals apologizing and not the state apologizing? Can a state apologize?
  5. 10 Dec '11 10:45
    Originally posted by FMF
    So you see it as unconnected and innocent individuals apologizing and not the state apologizing? Can a state apologize?
    Apparently they can, or at least they claim they can. I wouldn't take it seriously if someone apologized for something they didn't do. But if other people do value such an apology, then that's up to them.
  6. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    10 Dec '11 11:22
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Apparently they can, or at least they claim they can. I wouldn't take it seriously if someone apologized for something they didn't do. But if other people do value such an apology, then that's up to them.
    So would you say that you don't see any kind of continuum in the entity and policy of the state because of the changing line up of people running it?

    How does that leave international treaties and obligations?

    If a state were to claim that its international obligations were abrogated by the fact that the current roster of politicians did not overlap with the roster that entered into the treaty, or those who took the decisions and were responsible for the actions the state took at some earlier point?
  7. 10 Dec '11 12:12 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by FMF
    So would you say that you don't see any kind of continuum in the entity and policy of the state because of the changing line up of people running it?

    How does that leave international treaties and obligations?

    If a state were to claim that its international obligations were abrogated by the fact that the current roster of politicians did not overlap with ...[text shortened]... o took the decisions and were responsible for the actions the state took at some earlier point?
    International treaties and obligations are devised and signed with the express assumption and purpose that they bind their successors. Criminal responsibility is ultimately an individual matter.

    However, an apology "on behalf of the state" remains a civilised and seemly thing to do on an emotional level.
  8. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    10 Dec '11 12:14
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Criminal responsibility is ultimately an individual matter.
    The state's conduct in war can be seen as an individual matter in terms of each and every person involved?
  9. 10 Dec '11 19:50
    Originally posted by FMF
    The state's conduct in war can be seen as an individual matter in terms of each and every person involved?
    It can be seen primarily as a matter in terms of the individuals responsible for making leadership decisions, who historically have sometimes been held accountable and punished for wartime atrocities; as too have individual soldiers, even if they were acting in accordance with orders. An apology for the conduct of the state is surely ultimately an apology for individual decisions made by leaders and members of the military.
  10. 10 Dec '11 21:30
    Originally posted by FMF
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16104751

    http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/22/who-responsible-bersiap.html

    [quote]The Dutch government has apologised for a massacre committed by its soldiers in Indonesia in 1947, as the country fought for independence.

    Dutch ambassador Tjeerd de Zwaan spoke at a ceremony in Balongsari village, formerly kno ...[text shortened]... their own nations? What have been good examples of this? Have there been any bad examples?
    I wonder about the benefits of such apologies. The people killed or harmed are long dead, but the people alive today have to now live with the resurrection of past hatreds.
  11. 10 Dec '11 21:32
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    In a way it is silly that people who had nothing to do with these crimes apologize for crimes they did not commit. Nevertheless, it's good to recognize mistakes from the past, and right the wrongs if possible.
    I agree with the first part, but it's hard to see how wrongs can be righted generations after the fact.
  12. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    11 Dec '11 01:18
    Originally posted by normbenign
    I agree with the first part, but it's hard to see how wrongs can be righted generations after the fact.
    In Balongsari, there are victims who are still alive. The apology paves the way for compensation to be paid to them.
  13. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    11 Dec '11 01:27
    Originally posted by FMF
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16104751

    http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/22/who-responsible-bersiap.html

    [quote]The Dutch government has apologised for a massacre committed by its soldiers in Indonesia in 1947, as the country fought for independence.

    Dutch ambassador Tjeerd de Zwaan spoke at a ceremony in Balongsari village, formerly kno ...[text shortened]... their own nations? What have been good examples of this? Have there been any bad examples?
    It's a nice gesture, though I have to admit that every time the Japanese apologize for Pearl Harbor it makes me cringe a little bit. While the PH attack was probably a long run tactical mistake, war with the US was pretty much forced on Japan unless they wanted to evacuate China and give up its bid for an east Asian empire. If the Japanese need to apologize for anything at the outset of the war, it's for warring on China in the first place.
  14. 11 Dec '11 12:45
    Originally posted by sh76
    If the Japanese need to apologize for anything at the outset of the war, it's for warring on China in the first place.
    Which they have, several times:

    September 29, 1972. Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. "The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself."

    August 26, 1982. Chief Cabinet Secretary Kiichi Miyazawa. "The Japanese Government and the Japanese people are deeply aware of the fact that acts by our country in the past caused tremendous suffering and damage to the peoples of Asian countries, including the Republic of Korea (ROK) and China, and have followed the path of a pacifist state with remorse and determination that such acts must never be repeated."

    November 26, 1998. Prime Minister Keizō Obuchi. "Both sides believe that squarely facing the past and correctly understanding history are the important foundation for further developing relations between Japan and China. The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious distress and damage that Japan caused to the Chinese people through its aggression against China during a certain period in the past and expressed deep remorse for this."

    These three examples mention China specifically and were in addition to numerous expressions of remorse addressed to Asian nations generally.
  15. 11 Dec '11 12:58 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by FMF
    So would you say that you don't see any kind of continuum in the entity and policy of the state because of the changing line up of people running it?

    How does that leave international treaties and obligations?

    If a state were to claim that its international obligations were abrogated by the fact that the current roster of politicians did not overlap with ...[text shortened]... o took the decisions and were responsible for the actions the state took at some earlier point?
    This is not directly in response to the specific matter under discussion, but in the wider issue of the continuity of the state, I remember a Muslim colleague once telling me that he thought the implacable hostility of the United States to post-revolutionary Iran was mainly due to the Ayatollah's refusal to honour Iran's national debt. Khomeini apparently declared that it was the Shah's debt and told the Americans to get it from him.

    Hang on... Could this be the solution to the present crisis? Should Papademos simply repudiate the debt accrued by Papandreou on the grounds that it's nothing to do with him? Should Monti announce that it's Berlusconi's responsibility, not Italy's, to repay the nation's creditors the money he frittered away on bunga-bunga parties? Is this the light at the end of the tunnel?