The Dutch Government funds a four years research titled "Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia, 1945-1950" carrried out by the best brains of the country in the field of history, KITLV (the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies), NIMH (the Netherlands Institute of Military History) and NIOD (the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies).
I quoted from the research website what it is all about :
The programme comprises nine subprojects and aims to answer questions regarding the nature, scale and causes of structural violence in Indonesia, considered in a broader political, social and international context. In this context, detailed attention will be paid to the chaotic period spanning August 1945 to early 1945 – often referred to as the – and the political and social aftermath in the Netherlands, Indonesia and elsewhere.
In short, the Dutch had problem when Indonesia proclaimed its independence on 17 August 1945 and fought back to be able to claim power in the former colony. The war lasted between 1945-1950 and it became a dark period in the history of the Netherlands. The Dutch government admitted that they were in the wrong side of history. It leaves the country in never ending dispute and debat until the government decided it is time to get lessons learned from the period. And the funding is made available to do the research.
This week I attended two events discussed the research, one in Amsterdam on Thursday 13 September evening and on Friday 14 September in University of Leiden in the occasion of Asia Day with theme Indonesia.
The first event was a large one with about 350 atteendes coloured with heavy emotions and sometimes scream of protests from the public.
The Leiden one was much smaller, discussions were held in peace, nobody screamed, questions and answers went deeper. I had a chance to ask something what I wanted to ask for a long time : does something like a psychological burden of the past exist in the Netherlands? If yes, does this research a kind of healing process? Prof. Dr. Geert Oostindie, the Director of KITLV gave a honest answer that such a trauma does exist and the Netherland as a nation goes through a healing process by understanding what has happened.
On Friday 14 september evening, after the discussion in Leiden, I decided to go to Rijswijk to Pasar Rakyat (People's Bazaar) organized by the Embassy of Republic Indonesia to commemorate 73th Years of Indonesian Independence. This Pasar Rakyat is held three days, 14-16 September.
A lot of foodstalls (food is a serious business!), souvenirs, promotions and entertainments. The atmosphere is so relax, lot of laughs, selfies, eating, singing and dancing. Visitors were queeing for Nasi Padang, lots and lots of chili peppers. Young and old were dancing with dangdut music sang by Vivi Subono who wore traditional kebaya but when she sang rock acted like a Rock Queen! It was fun and only fun. I couldn't stop smiling and of course couldn't stop eating, too.
While I was enjoying the Pasar Rakyat, I couldn't help of feeling how contrast situations between the two points : the Dutch and the Indonesian.
Both concerns are about Indonesian Independence of 1945 but both commemorate it in different ways. Both occasions were 100% coincidentaly held on the same day only 25 kilometers from each others, one is still crying out loud trying to understand what it was going on through years of researches and the other one moves on by eating, singing and dancing three days in a row.