Charges against Bersiap denier Triyana

Bonnie Triyana - © Federatie Indische Nederlanders

THE HAGUE (January 11, 2022) – The Rijksmuseum will censor the historical term Bersiap in its upcoming exhibition Revolusi! According to Indonesian guest curator Bonnie Triyana, the term is “racist”. (Indo)-Dutch people are dumbfounded. “I am physically ill because of this,” says Hans Moll, chairman of the Dutch East Indies Federation (FIN). Moll is pressing charges against this “insane and shocking form of Bersiap denial“.

According to Triyana, the term Bersiap has a “heavy racist connotation” when it refers to “the violence that took place against the Dutch during the revolution”. This is all the more true now that the term “always portrays primitive, uncivilized Indonesians as perpetrators of the violence, which is not entirely free from racial hatred,” according to the Indonesian. According to the Soekarno-apologist, it is not Indonesians who are responsible for the ethnic cleansing they committed on initially mainly (Indo)-Dutch, but “the injustice that colonialism created and that formed a structure of a hierarchical society based on racism that envelops the exploitation of the colony”. 

Triyana does not report that Indonesians persecuted thousands of (Indo)-Dutch for their Dutch and/or European ethnicity. Triyana’s statements are therefore a shocking textbook example of Bersiap denial and a new low in the already hostile climate surrounding the history of the former Dutch East Indies.

The statements caused a wave of indignation among the (Indo)-Dutch, of whom the first generation often barely survived the atrocities. Politicians in The Hague responded bewildered. “Historians today are not concerned with describing history, but rewriting it. ‘Bersiap’ was the rallying cry of Indonesians themselves,” writes Derk-Jan Eppink (JA21) on Twitter. His party colleague Annabel Nanninga is also displeased. “It is that the subject of bersiap is not funny at all, otherwise this history-falsifying (and of course partly subsidized) talk would be downright laughable”. According to Martin Bosma (PVV), the developments are “yet another proof that our museums are in the hands of the extreme left” and the Rijksmuseum is a “genocide denier“. Bosma has now asked parliamentary questions to the State Secretary for Culture and Media.

Bersiap (1945-1946) is Malay for “Be ready” or “Pay attention!”. It is the battle cry of Indonesian (para)military organizations and gangs, which almost immediately after the capitulation of Japan sowed death and destruction among initially mainly non-Indonesians in the Dutch East Indies. During this extremely violent period, thousands of Indo-Dutch people were brutally tortured, raped and murdered by Indonesians, because of their Dutch or European ethnicity. The exact number of Dutch victims is still unclear. Estimates vary between 5,000 and 30,000 dead and 15,000 missing. Chinese, Moluccans and other groups were also victims, although it is unclear how many. The violence did not stop after 1946. It was against this background that in 1947, the government decided to deploy a large scale military effort in the Dutch East Indies.

Tags: BersiapBersiap-denial.

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