29 March 2017 — Three Dutch research institutes – including the Leiden University’s KITLV – will conduct a follow-up study on the use of violence during the Dutch East Indies war of decolonisation (1945 – 1950). The government has designated 4.1 million Euros for this study.
The study will start in September and last for 4 years. It will be conducted by the Leiden Royal Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), in collaboration with the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) and the Dutch Institute of Military History (NIMH). The researchers will not only examine the military side of this saga, but will also examine the political, administrative and judicial actions in both the Netherlands and Indonesia during this turbulent period.
At the end of 2016, the government decided to commission a comprehensive and independent study into the decolonisation of today’s Indonesia. In recent years, an increasing number of scientific and journalistic publications have revealed that the Netherlands army used excessive and structural violence during the conflict. ‘We need to take a good look in the mirror of our own past,’ Mr. Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs said when announcing the project.
The KITLV will collaborate with various Indonesian universities and attract Indonesian researchers for various sub-projects of the study. This new research study builds on the KITLV project Dutch military action in Indonesia 1945-1950, which began in late 2012.
Leiden University Professor Gert Oostindie has been lobbying for years for such a study into the war of decolonisation. In his book Soldaat in Indonesië, he showed, on the basis of personal documents of Dutch soldiers, exactly what form this violence took. ‘However, there is much that we don’t understand sufficiently,’ he said in an interview late last year. ‘Such as the context of the violence. How did politicians, administrators and justice officials react?’ He also expressed his satisfaction with the announcement of the follow-up study.