South Moluccas: Questions In Dutch Parliament
- The Dutch Foreign Affairs Committee has questioned the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the current Moluccan human rights situation in Indonesia.
- Answering questions from two Dutch MPs, Martijn Van Dam and Harry Van Bommel, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Verhagen, commented on the state of human rights within Indonesia and the role the Netherlands was playing, particularly in the wake of the so-called ‘Flag Incident’ on 29 June 2007.
- The incident centres on an attempt by Republik Maluku Seletan (RMS) members to unfurl an RMS flag in front of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during an official ceremony marking National Family Day in Ambon. The Indonesian authorities responded to the incident by detaining a number of individuals in conditions that have raised international concerns.
- Some commentators have speculated that elements within the Indonesian regime knew of the event and sought to exploit it. The official response to the incident, involving the detention of Moluccans and the dismissal of a police chief and military chief could be a reflection of internal power jostling within the Indonesian state and military organs.
- Nevertheless, Mr Verhagen confirmed that The Netherlands was monitoring events and had raised concerns with Jakarta over the detainees’ condition and allegations of poor treatment. The Dutch embassy in Jakarta had initiated an investigation into the incident but could not confirm any specific instances of mistreatment.
- The Southern Moluccas have been part of Indonesia since 1949 when the Netherlands ceded sovereignty to the islands. The South Moluccas formed part of a federal Indonesia until concerted moves were made in 1950 to transform Indonesia from a federal state into a unitary state. Since 1951, Molaccans have been occupied by Indonesian armed forces and campaigned for greater self determination. At present there are approximately 50,000 Molaccans in the Netherlands.
- Note: A transcript of the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting can be accessed via: Ministry of Foreign Affairs