Archives for October 8, 2017

Indonesian politics prevails over the headstone of my Dutch father

Eddie Geenen

Eddie Geenen was born on 19-8-1912 in the town Sawahlunto of West Sumatra. His parents were Augustus Josephus Carolus and Helena Francina Wilhelmina Maitimo. On 12-6-1935 Eddie married Clara Elisabeth Chevalier, which took place in Sawahlunto, Sumatra. Clara Elisabeth Chevalier was born on 3-22-1915 and her parents were Henri Antoine Joseph Chevalier and Jacqueline Beljaars (Balliard)
On October 4 and 7, 1943, 30 men including my father Eddie Geenen, who were in the Padang prison the Boei-Muara for more than a month, were taken out by some of the Japanese Tokko (special higher police known of their brutality), who were accompanied by Japanese soldiers in a truck. The Japs shouting commands and beat the prisoners into the trucks. In the truck each Dutch prisoner got a bag over their head and taken to the MV-House in Padang, a collection of buildings with the central location of the Tokko. These 30 men were all personnel from the OSM (Ombilin Coal Mining Company in Sawahlunto)
Upon arrival they were rid of their baggage and handcuffed. Then they were ordered to sit on the ground with legs crossed, dead silent and with the eyes facing to the ground. Any form of communication was prohibited or honored with disproportionate painful beating. In this position they had to wait their turn. That means that each one will be interrogated by the Japanese Tokko-lieutenants Sugibayashi and Miyauchi, the Tokko-Watari Tsurukichi and gunzo’s Yamashita and the Indonesian interpreters Bakri, Sjafei, Hartin and many others. These Indonesian torturers did their utmost best to please their Japanese bosses. But soon was the war over and all the Indonesian criminals were gone.
Such a trial consisted mainly with the use of the hand, fist, whip, a bullwhip, chair or a part of it, a piece of wood, rope or electrical cable, or a special constructed instrument to beat the political prisoner, who was enthralled as a precaution. This special constructed instrument could be a whip made from steel wire or spiked rattan, split at the top into quarters with nails on the inside to help stripped of the victim his cloth and skin from his back.
Intentionally or not, but when the victim during the beating accidentally fell to the ground, the Japanese interrogators and/or their Indonesian aides  started kicking or jumping, preferable at vulnerable spots of the body to increase the pain and intentionally made him aware of his injuries.
Many were forced to kneel during the interrogations with a piece of wood in the bend of the knees. After a while the person are not able to withstand it and started lowering his body. This weight of his body cause an abnormal force of pain to his own knees. The high pain level of injuries created by fire was obviously not left untapped.
Mostly were done in combination with the kicking through burning cigarettes, candles, oil lanterns, or red hot metal to create sear- or fire- wounds.
Also the excruciating operation by the application of electricity was not unknown; the vulnerable hanging position was almost perfunctory applied, often with preference for legs first and body up site down.
The fantasies of these Japanese and Indonesian torturers were infinite. These tortures lasted at least 10 days to prejudice the trial and sometimes they added more time as a favor.
Of the condemned group of 30 men, my father Eddie Geenen was one of them, were almost one year later 14 more dead than alive prisoners transferred to the men’s Japanese concentration camp in Bangkinang, a place located inland in a jungle of rubber trees.
After the war they received their first medical treatment, but 2 more died within 2 months.

Grafsteen Pappa Eddie Geenen

My father Eddie Geenen, a very sick men in bad condition, and his family were transferred with the passenger ship, the Sibajak, to Batavia (today Jakarta) to be nursed in CBZ-hospital. Much later my mother told me, that my dad has also been castrated during the Japanese torture. Dad died in that hospital to pleurisy and blood poisoning on August 18, 1948. My mother gave him the best funeral that was possible for her. Eddie Geenen was buried at the Tanah Abang Cemetery.

The manager of the Dutch Oorlogsgravenstichting in charge of Menteng Pulo, Jakarta, visited the location of the former cemetery Tanah Abang. He found out that the graves were cleared in 1976. All the physical remains were then transferred to a collection grave at the Menteng Pulo public cemetery. In 1990 that part of the cemetery Menteng Pulo has also been cleared and all the collection of the physical remains were transferred to an unknown location on the outskirts of Jakarta.
Meanwhile a museum has been built on the former Tanah Abang and is called Taman Prasati Tanah Abang.

In 1996 Peggy Geenen and her friend decided to make a memory trip through Sumatra and Java. Peggy was born on 8 oktober 1943 during the world war two of the Japanese occupation of the former Dutch-Indisch in a Japanese concentration camp in Padang, Sumatra. It was a wonder that she survived the war time because of the lack of food and nutrition. During the last week of her 2 month trip she found the cemetery Tanah Abang and in a wall she found a tile with inscription, about 30cm by 18cm with all the information of our father Eddie Geenen, which had been created by his wife and our mother Claire Elisabeth Geenen-Chevalier. Our mother died on 10-12-2005 in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands.
Many years later, I live in California, I was told by a friend, that a museum with the name Taman Prasati had control over all the graveyards on the Tanah Abang location. I told that to my sister Peggy in the Netherlands. She asked me to try to get Papa Ed’s tile to the Netherlands to give it a place at our mother’s graveyard.
I did and my actions started on 7 of June 2016 with a letter to the Oorlogsgravenstichting in the Netherlands and one to the address in Jakarta. The people of the OGS in both offices were very helpful. I let them also know that I will carry any cost, locally and the transfer to the Netherlands.
On the first of december 2016 a meeting took place between Mr. Robert van de Rijdt, director OGS, Jakarta and Mr. Fajar, director of the museum Taman Prasati. Mr. Fajar told that all the statues and stones of the graveyards on Tanah Abang belongs to the museum. There is only one option to claim a graveyard stone or tile. The family member, filing the claim, must live at least for 2 years in Jakarta.
Base on above information I called one of my family members, who has lived their whole life in Indonesia. I explain the situation and email them all the information.
My family contacted Mr. Rudy da Costa of OGS, who is also fluent in the Indonesian language. Mr. da Costa promised to contact the director of Taman Prasati to set up a meeting. It turned out that he is no longer in charge of the museum Taman Prasati and has been replaced by Mrs. Sri Kusumawati (Mrs. Atik) and all the museums fall under an Indonesian governmental entity. An appointment was made for Friday, June 9, 2017 at museum Fatahillah in the old town Jakarta (Kota) at 2PM. My family member was accompanied by Mr. Eliza Barka, who is a staff member of OGS from Menteng Pulo. Also at the meeting was Mr. Andri, who is now the head of operation at the museum Taman Prasasti.

To make the story short Mrs. Atik told Mr. Eliza Barka of OGS and my family, that she understands what the family Geenen wants, but since all the property at the museum Taman Prasati is owned by the Jakarta Provence, all the property at Museum Taman Prasati belongs also to the Jakarta Provence and are therefore the property of the Indonesian Government. This makes it impossible to take the inscription tile from Eddie Geenen back to the family.

Conclusion: Thanks to the Indonesian politics Eddie Geenen remains a prisoner and sentence for life with no parool.      


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