Step 2 Part 2.2, Difficult History

An inconvenient history: The story of the Moluccans

After the independence of Indonesia from Dutch colonial rule in 1945, the Dutch fought a violent war to stop the decolonisation of Indonesia. When the Dutch government in 1949 acknowledged the independence,  many people from Indonesia went to the Netherlands.

Among the Indonesians, the  Moluccans, who were in a special position, went to the Netherlands. The Moluccans are the Austronesian-speaking and Papuan-speaking ethnic groups indigenous to the Maluku Islands.  For ages Moluccans had been recruited in the Dutch colonial army. They were considered good soldiers and very loyal to Dutch authority.

After the war of independence, the Moluccans found themselves in an awkward, uncomfortable, situation and the Moluccans declared themselves independent from Indonesia. 

However, the Republik Maluku Selatan was not recognised by the Indonesian government.  Because of this, the Moluccan soldiers and their families feared they might become victim of reprisals. In December 1950 a court in The Hague decided that they could not be demobilised and were ordered to embark a ship heading for the Netherlands. This sojourn (temporary stay ) was considered to be temporarily. Upon arrival these loyal soldiers were immediately and unceremoniously discharged. They and their families were housed in two former concentration camps and left stateless and unemployed. They lived among themselves, quite separated from Dutch society, ‘forgotten’ by the government.