August 17th 1945 is a day that the people of Indonesia celebrate the end of a long period of oppression and foreign occupation. After the bankruptcy of the Dutch East-India Company (VOC) Indonesia became a Dutch colony under the name Dutch East-India.
I’m Dutch and I know that Dutch people knowing and talking about this period often tend to downplay the situation with arguments like “We developed Indonesia” or “We brought Indonesia many technologies and lots of knowledge especially in agriculture” and so on. Now that might be true but conveniently some ‘details’ are left out. First, any colonisation and oppression is wrong and an act of war. Second, the war fought in f.i. Aceh was brutal at the cost of many lives of Indonesian and the establishment of concentration camps in Papua New Guinea are a dark page in both the Indonesian and Dutch history. One thing that’s still inexcusable is that in later history books used at schools in Holland there’s hardly any mention of the suffering we put on the people of Indonesia. On top of that the Dutch occupation was followed by a Japanese oppression which cost the lives of between 2,500,000 and 4,000,000 Indonesians.