Dutch colonial army recruited child soldiers

This video says about itself:

Syrian Child Soldier: “I’ve Gotten Used to Killing Soldiers.”

18 September 2014

Lebanese channel LDC TV aired on September 13 a news report about the phenomenon of child soldiers in Syria. The report included an interview with 12-year-old Midyan, who had become a sniper in the ranks of the Syrian opposition after his father was killed in battle.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Dutch East Indies Army recruited child soldiers

Today, 08:36

The Royal Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL) during the Second World War recruited at least three child soldiers, according to reports that have been received by the Ministry of Health.

The three former child soldiers have reported to the Ministry for the scheme known as the backpay issue. With this scheme, former soldiers and officers who worked in the Dutch East Indies [the official Dutch colonial name for Indonesia] during the Japanese occupation will receive a fee of 25,000 euros. The scheme was set up because this group during the occupation for 41 months has received no salary.


According to De Telegraaf daily the youngest man during the war was seven years old. …

The ministry tells De Telegraaf that there was nothing known until now about the presence of child soldiers in the Dutch East Indies. The NIOD was unaware of child soldiers in Dutch service as well. There are, as the NIOD knew already, cases of young people of around 16 years working for the KNIL.

Theatre play Oeroeg in Leiden theatre

This video is the trailer of the Dutch language 1993 film Oeroeg. The international title of the film is Going home. It is (somewhat loosely) based on the 1948 novel Oeroeg by Hella S. Haasse (1918-2011). The book was translated into English in 2013 as The Black Lake.

It is about the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. The main protagonist is a Dutch boy, born and bred in the mountains of the west of Java island in Indonesia. In the film he is called Johan; in the novel he is nameless. His father is a tea plantation manager.

The other main character, after whom the book was named, is Oeroeg. The name means ‘landslide’ in the Sundanese language of west Java. Oeroeg is an Indonesian boy, son of a plantation foreman. He is of the same age as, and the friend of, the Dutch boy.

Oeroeg was Hella Haase‘s first novel (after an earlier poetry book and a theatre play). She was born in Indonesia herself. Before she became an author, she studied to become an actress. Later, she wrote some texts for theaters.

So, it would be interesting to see what would happen to Oeroeg if it would change from a novel into a theatre play.

On 19 November 2015 was the première of Oeroeg, adapted as a theatre play by Madeleine Matzer, in the Leiden theatre. Quite some actors turned up in the audience of this première.

This 19 November 2015 video is the trailer of the theatre play.

This 19 November 2015 video is an interview with Leopold Witte. He is one of the two actors in the play; he plays the Dutch protagonist; nameless, like in the book. The other actor, Helge Stikker, plays Oeroeg and all minor characters. He also makes music on electric and acoustic guitars.

The show started with a film projection of an owl flying towards the spectators.

Later in the play, there was often a landslide (like in Oeroeg’s name) projected in the background.

Both the book and a play mention an ‘anteater’. Anteaters are South American, not Indonesian. Maybe Hella Haase confused them with pangolins, which do live in Indonesia. The book (not the play) also mentions a ‘houtduif’ (wood pigeon). A bird species of the Netherlands, not of Indonesia where other pigeon species live.

The ‘black lake’, a mountain lake after which the English translation of the book is named, plays an important role in the story. The young Dutch protagonist nearly drowns there, but survives. Oeroeg’s father drowns trying to save the Dutch boy; making that boy feel guilty and indebted to Oeroeg.

The main theme in the play is how colonialism, with its corollaries like economic inequality and racist prejudice, destroys friendships. The Dutch boy in the play, compared to many other Dutch people in the then Dutch East Indies, is not particularly prejudiced against Indonesians. He used to be better at speaking Sundanese than at speaking Dutch, and even later he still has a Sundanese accent in his Dutch. Yet he does not understand why his friend Oeroeg gradually becomes an anti-colonialist supporter of independence for Indonesia.

The end of the novel, and of the play, tells how the friendship eventually ends tragically during the Dutch war against newly independent Indonesia, 1945-1949. In the film, Dutch ‘Johan’ goes back to where he was born, as a Dutch colonial army soldier. In the book and in the play, the Dutchman also goes back to his site of birth, but as a civilian, not a soldier. Still, behind the stage, images of the bloody military conflict are projected. Close to where he used to play with Oeroeg when they were boys, the Dutchman meets an armed Indonesian pro-independence fighter; who says: ‘Go back, or I will shoot!’ Is that Indonesian fighter Oeroeg? Yes, says the film. In the book and the play, the Dutchman is not really sure whether the Indonesian is Oeroeg or not. He may be unable to recognize his former close friend. Emphasizing what was lost since his happy childhood memories.

A review of this play is here.

‘Dutch king, apologize for war crimes in Indonesia’

This video from Australia says about itself:

Student Protest Over Dutch Policy (1947)

Sydney, Australia – August 1947.

Students of Sydney University demonstrate against Dutch action in Indonesia. C/U of placards protesting against Dutch policy in Indonesia.

General view of students lined up in Wynyard Park, Sydney. C/U of one of the students addressing the gathering outside the Dutch consulate. Shots of people demonstrating in the streets, marching along with banners.

M/S of police arriving upon the scene. M/S of students fighting with police and being bundled off by them. Plain clothes policeman try to wrestle placards from students. Students are put in patrol vans. Police disperse the crowd.

General view of the meeting breaking up.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Survivors of people executed in the Dutch East Indies want the king to apologize

Today, 09:44

Survivors of Indonesians who in the 1940s were executed by Dutch soldiers ask for an apology by King Willem-Alexander. They say the royal family has always been silent about the issue and about the suffering of the affected relatives.

The Committee Dutch Debts of Honour has collected three letters from relatives and sent them to the king, Prime Minister Rutte and the Parliamentary Committees for Interior and Foreign Affairs. The letters were signed by 110 survivors from the villages Suppa, Manjalling and Bulukumba on Sulawesi.

Two years ago, the Dutch ambassador to Indonesia apologized for all extrajudicial killings in the former Dutch East Indies. The committee says that the relatives with their letters want to show that they are still struggling with what happened between 1945 and 1949. “We hope that the king would like to comment on it,” says a spokesman.

The request for an apology from the king comes on the day that on Sulawesi victims of the Dutch so called police actions are commemorated. It happens every year on 11 December.

Indonesian orchids and medicine

This video says about itself:

18 June 2015

Black orchid (Coelogyne pandurata) is the mascot flower of East Kalimantan Province (Indonesia).

Translated from the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden, the Netherlands:

Phylogenetic study of orchids (Coelogyne) from Indonesia

Right now there is in the Hortus Botanicus a PhD study of orchids from Indonesia. Richa Kusuma Wati MSc aims to bring clarity about the still unresolved evolutionary biology of a group of orchids. This orchids group is one of the largest flowering plant families and is best known for its decorative value. Most species have been investigated traditionally because of their beautiful flowers, but the medical values ​​have not been studied at all.

The aim of this PhD research, funded by the LPDP (Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education) is to investigate the genus Glomera and their relatives. The group is the least known group within the Coelogyninae. Richa will first map out orchid species in which she will look at the evolutionary relatedness among species. She will use for this technology on DNA bar coding and molecular phylogenetics. Finally, she will look at the biochemistry so she will be able to map species, useful for Indonesian medicine.

December 1, 2015

PhD researcher Ms Richa Kusama

New photos of Dutch war crimes in Indonesia discovered

Six Indonesians, killed, lying in a ditch

Translated from NOS TV:

New pictures surfaced of atrocities in the Dutch East Indies

16 October 2015, 18:28

In an armored safe of the resistance museum in South Holland in Gouda 179 photographs and slides have surfaced from the time of the so-called police actions in the former Dutch East Indies. The discovery has caused again calls for a thorough investigation into this period in Dutch history.

Among the materials are images of executed Indonesians, interrogations and arrests by Dutch colonial army soldiers and the arrival of Dutch army soldiers. The photos were discovered by Joost Lamboo, the man responsible for the images in the collection of the museum.

According to Lamboo the photos taken by one or more individuals who were on the side of the Dutch military. …

[Photo historian] Zweers believes that the photograph of the six men shot was made in Bandung, in the spring of 1946. …

There were no police actions yet then, Zweers says. “There were no Dutch army soldiers present. They came much later. This was the colonial army, with Dutch officers living in Indonesia and indigenous troops, under Dutch command. From the early days of the independence struggle very much is unclear.”


Henk Schulte Nordholt, professor of Indonesian history at Leiden University, confirms this. “We still have no insight into the true nature of that war, while it is the biggest war the Netherlands has ever had.”

According to the professor people have mostly looked away until now. … “We have to take our responsibility and finally make a major investigation into who did what when, and especially why. This was very much a dirty war. We need to understand why that could happen.”