De Oost Rips Open Dutch Colonial Wounds
Monday, 31 May 2021
DE Oost is the first major Dutch film which clearly exposes the violence committed by its military during the 1945-1949 Indonesian independence war. It showed how an elite Dutch corps under Captain Raymond Westerling sowed terror in South Sulawesi, killing thousands of Indonesians. This controversial movie, made in a span of almost a decade, has sparked a flood of reactions—from praise to condemnation—from the Dutch media and public. On Twitter, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld expressed regret that De Oost, made by Dutch-Moluccan Director Jim Taihuttu, has caused unrest among former soldiers who served in Indonesia, as veteran associations like the Dutch East Indies Federation (FIN) accused the film of defaming veterans. FIN even took the filmmakers to court. Tempo spoke to the film’s director, producers, and actors, and also historians, in the Netherlands and Indonesia.
IT was chaos. Dutch soldiers brutally raided a small village in South Sulawesi, and rounded up its residents—men, women, children—onto an open field. Then a tall, imposing man appeared with a folding table and a chair. He calmly sat down and put his gun on the table. The other soldiers tensely stood on guard with their rifles. The officer took out a small notebook from his pocket, opened it, and read out a name. A villager was then dr...
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