Why do we stand for our right to claim unpaid wages?
I am standing here on behalf of my uncle Loet Hoogvelt and my aunt Loes Flohr. Who, at 90 years of age, is not avoiding the courts to contest the Backpay settlement. I am standing here on behalf of my uncle George Huffenreuter and my aunt Tineke Flohr. She, who at 96 years if age, is also looking to the courts to contest the Backpay settlement. I am also standing here on behalf of my father, Chris Flohr, the brother of my aunt Loes. Just like many other KNIL soldiers he was made a prisoner of war and he was kept in camps, amongst others Fukuoka 9, for 3½ years where he had to work in coal mines and suffered systematically abuse. During that time both my uncles and my father have never been paid for their efforts and suffering as a prisoner of war!! These men have since passed away: my father in 1983, my uncle Loet in 2011 and my uncle George in 2004.
As their entitled relatives we will continue to knock on the door. The doors of the courts and the doors of our politicians and government.
After more than 70 years, it is time for rehabilitation for them, their family and relatives.
This is the issue in the Backpay affair. It is not about recognition and compensation, it concerns payment of an ‘ordinary’ debt of the Dutch government to those who earned it. Backpay means to pay back.
Even though Queen Wilhelmina, in name of the kingdom of the Netherlands, was the first to declare war to Japan on 8 December 1941 (even before the United States), the Netherlands are the only allied country to neglect paying any remaining wages. All other allied countries have paid all due wages.
The Backpay arrangement from 2015 falls short because it excludes those people who were entitled to the back payments but were no longer alive on the fifteenth of Augustus 2015. This means the settlement discriminates.
In various rulings of the courts on this issue it is claimed that in fact justice should be sought in Indonesia.
Nonsense. The KNIL soldiers have fought for and in the kingdom of the Netherlands.
- How can it be that navy personnel of the Royal Dutch Navy have received their wages but their comrades of the “Governments marine” have not?
- How can it be that professional Dutch officers who were taken prisoner of war in Germany have been fully paid?
- How can it be that KNIL officers who were taken prisoner of war did receive their wages?
What do you mean discrimination? What do you mean unfair treatment?
In the mid-sixties Indonesia paid a claim of 600 million guilders to the Netherlands. This money flowed into the Dutch treasury. The KNIL soldiers were left out in the cold. They received nothing. The Backpay issue was swept under the rug.
It is remarkable that the courts keep referring to the government and the governments keep referring to judicial rulings.
This going back and forth both goes against and at the expense of the rule of law and at the expense of all entitled parties and surviving relatives.
This means it is up to our politicians to make a move. Wake up politicians!
This tragedy can be solved. This is your task. Take your responsibility.
My aunt Loes will appeal the rejection of her complaint concerning the Backpay settlement in three weeks’ time. Will another game of ping pong ensue?
If we cannot find justice in the Netherlands we will have to look outside our borders: to the European Court of Human Rights.
We will go on. For my aunt Loes, my uncle Loet, my father and for all those entitled and their surviving relatives.
Injustice does not expire!
This gives us the right to claim unpaid wages
Peter Flohr, Loon op Zand translated by: Lian Verburg, Wassenaar