press release

Petition Coen back in Jakarta


Put the statue of J.P. Coen back on its pedestal in Jakarta, Indonesia, and give Coen the state funeral he deserves. The Dutch committee Vrienden van Coen (Friends of Coen) has started a petition to achieve these goals. The petition will be handed over to the Indonesian embassy in Den Haag (The Hague).

In 1942, while Holland suffered from the occupation of Hitler-Germany, the Japanese destroyed the glorious statue of J.P. Coen in Jakarta (by then known as Batavia). This was an act of historical and cultural barbarism that never has been rectified.

In 2011 the statue of J.P. Coen in Hoorn, Holland, fell down from its pedestal. The city council renewed the statue and put it back in its place, on the main square of Hoorn, with the tacit approval of the Dutch government and parliament. The Indonesian people should do what the Dutch have done: Put J.P.’s statue back in Jakarta!

The statues of Coen in Hoorn and Batavia are of a high educational value. They remind us of the wealth Coen’s VOC, the world’s first multinational, has brought the Dutch and of the crucial role Holland has played in Indonesia. Without J.P. Coen there wouldn’t have been the Dutch Indies. And without the Dutch Indies, there never would have been Indonesia.

Furthermore the committee Vrienden van Coen pleads for a state funeral of J.P. Coen. Coen’s grave in the Wajang Museum in Jakarta has no dignity. Coen’s physical remains should be moved to Holland. After all these years of negligence, Coen should get a state funeral and a national memorial tomb in Amsterdam or The Hague. Bring home our national hero!

We call upon the Dutch government to contribute to the costs to make a replica of the Coen-statue in Jakarta and to transport Coen’s physical remains. This contribution can be taken from the Dutch-Indonesian development funds.

We know for certain many will welcome our goals. Coen is more popular than ever. A petition to put the fallen Coen-statue in Hoorn back on its pedestal gained far more support than the petition to move it to a museum. In reaction to the downfall of the statue last year, many historians have stressed the importance of Coen to our national history. Even left-wing Dutch newspapers like Trouw and NRC have supported the Hoorn city council in putting the fallen statue back on its pedestal of honour. Furthermore the city of Hoorn has brought out a glossy called COEN! in honor of the Dutch hero.   

For centuries Coen has been criticised for the way he dealt with the rebellion on the Indonesian Banda-islands. Modern research has falsified these critical notes. Please read ‘Coens eerherstel’ (1942) and ‘Coen op Banda: De conqueste getoetst aan het recht van den tijd’ (1943), written by W.F. Gerretson and Lucas Kiers, both historians of the University of Utrecht. Coen handled properly. He couldn’t have reacted different. He did not commit genocide, like the city council of Hoorn rightly declares. He led an armed attack against Banda, since the Bandanese people didn’t keep their promises. They traded nutmeg with the English, which was forbidden by Coen’s VOC.

The committee Vrienden van Coen (CVC) thinks the reinstallment of the Coen-statue in Batavia and a state funeral of Coen in Holland are logical consequences of the facts listed above. We call upon everybody to sign our petition and to honor this Dutch national hero.

The petition will be handed over to the Indonesian embassy on August 17th.