A team from the Indonesian foreign ministry have started to excavate part of a cemetery in Brondong, East Java, in an attempt to identify an alleged mass war grave possibly filled with bones of Dutch and British soldiers.
This week, the team started to dig up the cemetery 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 wrecks, considered as sacred war graves, have mysteriously vanished in the past three years. It 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 to The Guardian 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 Suko cemetery.
The Dutch embassy has been actively pursuing the case for the past year following outrage at home over the missing wrecks.
February 27 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, February 27, at Kembang Kuning war cemetery in Surabaya, the capital of East Java, to mark the event.
Source: The Guardian
Photo courtesy of www.idfa.nl