Ralph Barker Titles

Not Here, But In Another Place

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A true story of captors and hostages.

Remember those obscure South Moluccans who twice hijacked a Dutch train? Here, straightforwardly explained and vividly dramatized, is why it happened, and how. The South Moluccan people in the Netherlands still long for independence and a return to their Indonesian homeland, once part of the Dutch Republic. And so, in 1975, a very young group of fanatical Christian South Moluccans hijacked a Dutch train to demonstrate their commitment to an independent South Moluccan Republic.

While the exiles held their captives and negotiated for a jet plane to fly them ""somewhere,"" another group of South Moluccans struck against the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam and themselves staged a second demonstration. Once some hostages had died, the government felt it could not, under any conditions, allow the hijackers to leave the country.

Eventually, they were worn down by various psychological pressures and both sets gave up. Two years passed, and in 1977 two new sets of hijackers staged demonstrations, one group taking over a children's school and the second another train. The new hijackers had learned from the mistakes of the earlier groups, and efforts to break them psychologically were unavailing. So, after three weeks, an actual assault was mounted, with commandos hitting the school and the train at the same moment and slaying most of the young hijackers. The moral issues are still unresolved, and quite likely unresolvable, but the story of this desperate gamble for what is probably a lost cause makes for stirring, provocative reading.

AP Archive footage | (11 Jun 1977) Dutch troops free hostages being held by South Moluccan gunmen that have occupied the train and a school building in support of their claims for independence in the former Dutch colony of South Molucca, now part of Indonesia.



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