1977 Dutch school hostage crisis
On the morning of Monday, May 23, 1977, four armed South-Moluccans took hostage 105 children and their five teachers at a primary school in Bovensmilde in the Dutch province of Drenthe. At the same time nine others hijacked a train in the nearby De Punt. Both hostage crises lasted for twenty days before being ended by military interventions.
The South-Moluccans had arrived in the Netherlands for a temporary stay, promised by the Dutch government that they would get their own independent state, Republik Maluku Selatan (RMS). For about 25 years they lived in temporary camps, often in poor conditions. After these years the younger generation felt betrayed by the Dutch government for not giving them their independent state and they began radical actions to gain attention for their cause.
- May 23 9:00AM:
When the hostage crises begins the children are forced to cover the windows with newspapers preventing the outside world from knowing what was happening inside.
- May 25
The day of the elections for the national parliament. To increase pressure on the government the children are forced to shout out of the windows: "van Agt, we want to live". The first ultimatum expires at 14:00 without any problems. Later that day, additional demands are expressed.
- May 27
All the children are released because many children have become ill from some unknown disease. The cause and nature of these disease is still unknown, but it is often speculated that the provided food might have been deliberately poisoned with laxatives by authorities to force a break-through, this is substantiated by a statement from van Agt in a Dutch documentary where he said "Ik vind het een uitstekend idee (…) een laxeermiddel hebben we allemaal wel eens nodig."[I think its a great idea (…) everybody needs a laxative now and then.]. Four teachers were retained as hostages.
- June 11 5:00AM
Marines attack the school in the early morning, an armoured car and explosives punch a hole in the wall and marines enter the building. The Moluccans surrender without fight after hearing about the military attack on the train.
The 4 attackers were convicted with sentences varying from 6 to 9 years. The Moluccan community has never made any apologies, but two of the hijackers, motivated by born-again Christianity, have had a meeting with former victims in 2007.
Thirty years after the events in question, on May 23, 2007, a monument was erected and the first memorial ceremony is held where symbolic white balloons were released.
- Attempt at kidnapping Juliana of the Netherlands
- Train hostage Wijster 1975
- Indonesian consulate hostage 1975
- Train hostage in De Punt 1977
- Province Hall hostage Assen 1978
- Bijzondere Bijstands Eenheid
- List of hostage crises
- Article from 1977 Times magazine
- Article from BBC "on this day"
- (Dutch) Dutch Polgoon television images from 1977
- (Dutch) Dutch Polygoon television images of the military action from 1977
- (Dutch) Images in the Dutch National Archive
- (Dutch) Images of the memorial ceremony on May 23, 2007
- Terrorist Organization Profile: South Moluccan Suicide Commando
- About: 1977 Dutch school hostage crisis