The Netherlands “recognises fully and without reservation” that Indonesia gained independence on August 17, 1945, prime minister Mark Rutte said during a parliamentary debate on Dutch colonialism on Wednesday.
President Sukarno declared independence from the Netherlands on that date but it has never been officially recognised by the Dutch. The Netherlands still uses December 27 1949, which is when the transfer of sovereignty took place and the Netherlands gave up its claim to Indonesia.
However, Rutte said during the debate, “we see the proclamation as a historical fact”.
Between 1945 and 1949, the Netherlands waged a bloody war to regain control, but eventually withdrew from Indonesia, partially under pressure from the US.
However, the decision to formally recognise the new date has angered members of the Moluccan community, many of whom fought for the Dutch and hoped for an independent state in the federal solution which had been proposed.
They see 1949 as the significant date because it gives credence to the establishment of the Republik Maluku Selatan (RMS) or Republic of the South Moluccas, which was declared on April 25, 1950 but never recognised.
The RMS government in exile said in reaction to Rutte’s comments that recognising August 17, 1945 was “yet another attack on the right of the RMS to exist.”
A spokesman for Rutte said after the debate that the new independence date would not have legal relevance and the UN will continue to use 1949 as well.
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