Indonesia: cemetery dug up in search for bones of British and Dutch sailors

Posted by On 11:11 PM

Indonesia: cemetery dug up in search for bones of British and Dutch sailors

Indonesia Indonesia: cemetery dug up in search for bones of British and Dutch sailors

Indonesian foreign ministry and Dutch embassy looking for bones believed to have come from wrecks of second world war ships

The Royal Navy heavy cruiser HMS Exeter sinking after the Battle of the Java Sea
The Royal Navy heavy cruiser HMS Exeter sinking after the Battle of the Java Sea Photograph: U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Officials have started to excavate a cemetery in Indonesia in an attempt to identify an alleged mass war grave filled with the possible bones of Dutch and British soldiers.

A team from the Indonesian foreign ministry this week started to dig up part of the cemetery in Brondong, East Java, looking for bones that may have come from the wrecks of several Dutch and British warships that sank off the coast in the 1942 Battle of the Java Sea.

The world's biggest grave robbery: Asia’s disappearing WWII shipwrecks Read more

The wrecks are considered sacred war graves but in the past three years have mysteriously vanished, as part of what has been described as the world’s biggest grave robbery.

The bones were first identified by Indonesian welders at Brondong port, who between 2014 and 2016 were contracted to cut up old ships, including cargo and trade ships and what they allege were also warships.

Bintara, head of the local water police in Brondong, confirmed that a team comprised of representatives from the Indonesian foreign ministry and the Dutch embassy had exhumed the site of an alleged mass grave at Suk o cemetery.

In the past week the team had investigated three sites where the bones were allegedly dumped, Bintara told the Guardian.

Map of Brodong

However, an official from the Indonesian foreign ministry involved in the investigation declined to comment on the exhumation, and possible collection of bones for forensic testing.

The Dutch embassy, which has been actively pursuing the case for the past year following outrage at home over the missing wrecks, has also been unavailable for comment.

The revelations that bones found in the old wrecks had been dumped in a mass grave in the nearby Suko Cemetery was first revealed by Indonesian website Tirto.comlast month.

Today marks the 76th anniversary of the Battle of the Java Sea, a crushing battle for the Dutch and allied forces, who at the time were fighting against the Japanese to retain control of the then Dutch East Indies.

More than 1,000 Dutch and British sailors went down with their ships in the battle.

A commemorative ceremony will take place today at Kembang Kuning war cemetery in Surabaya, the capital of East Java, to mark the event.

Topics
  • Indonesia
  • Asia Pacific
  • Netherlands
  • Europe
  • news
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Source: Google News Indonesia | Netizen 24 Indonesia

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