THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte offered his “deep apologies” on Thursday to the people of Indonesia in response to a report on colonial violence committed by the Dutch during the Indonesian war of independence between 1945 and 1949.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (

“I make deep apologies to the people of Indonesia today for the systematic and widespread extreme violence on the part of the Dutch side in those years and the consistent look away by previous cabinets,” Rutte stated.

“Today we also have seen that apologies are needed to everyone in our country who had to live with the consequences of the colonial war in Indonesia,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, a research report on the subject was presented as the result of five years of research.

The research focused on the period between 1945 and 1949. Before that time Indonesia was a Dutch colony. Immediately after the end of the Second World War, Indonesian nationalists had declared their independence, while the Netherlands send troops to regain control of the colony.

The conclusion was that during the Indonesian war of independence, the Netherlands structurally used excessive force, and the politicians in the Hague tacitly approved this. This conclusion was contrary to what the Dutch governments had stated previously that extreme violence was only used in exceptional cases.

“The investigation has shown that the vast majority of those responsible on the Dutch side — politicians, officers, civil servants, judges and other involved parties, did or could have had knowledge of the systematic use of extreme violence,” the researchers wrote.

“At all levels there was a willingness to set aside the written and unwritten rules of law and one’s own sense of justice,” noted the report.