How a violent past necessitates self-exploration: The Indonesian war of decolonization (1945-1949) and the debate about war crimes on radio and television

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Abstract

In 2005 the Dutch government for the first time denounced the position it held during the Indonesian war of decolonization (1945-1949). In Jakarta the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ben Bot, declared that in those years the Dutch had been 'on the wrong side of history'. Until then Dutch governments had been reluctant to publicly address the war and the crimes committed therein, even though these crimes had been brought into the open from 1969 onward in radio and television broadcasts. This article argues that as long as the violent past is not rethought, that past keeps on being news. Individuals may rethink their past in private. Governments have to do it publicly. Rethinking the past, Eelco Runia argued, is addressing the question, who are we that this could have happened? The Dutch do not need to rethink their past to reconcile themselves with the Indonesians, but to reconcile themselves with themselves.

Translated title of the contributionHow a violent past necessitates self-exploration: The Indonesian war of decolonization (1945-1949) and the debate about war crimes on radio and television
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalTijdschrift voor Geschiedenis
Volume132
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

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War Crimes
Decolonization
Government
Crime
History
Foreign Affairs
News

Keywords

  • Audiovisual media
  • Ben Bot
  • Indonesian war of decolonization
  • Rawagadeh
  • Re-thinking the past
  • Self-exploration
  • State visit Beatrix 1995
  • War crimes

Cite this

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abstract = "In 2005 the Dutch government for the first time denounced the position it held during the Indonesian war of decolonization (1945-1949). In Jakarta the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ben Bot, declared that in those years the Dutch had been 'on the wrong side of history'. Until then Dutch governments had been reluctant to publicly address the war and the crimes committed therein, even though these crimes had been brought into the open from 1969 onward in radio and television broadcasts. This article argues that as long as the violent past is not rethought, that past keeps on being news. Individuals may rethink their past in private. Governments have to do it publicly. Rethinking the past, Eelco Runia argued, is addressing the question, who are we that this could have happened? The Dutch do not need to rethink their past to reconcile themselves with the Indonesians, but to reconcile themselves with themselves.",
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