The KUKB Foundation is surprised to learn that the Royal Dutch Historical Society (KNHG) apparently wishes to risk its reputation by making public without any further factual substantiation that historian Anne-Lot Hoek had been intimidated and threatened by or on behalf of the KUKB Foundation. Needless to say that the reputation of the KNHG as a union of historians is based on respect for the facts only.
On 30 January 2024 in an article in the NRC, which has the name to be a quality newspaper in The Netherlands, the KNHG says that there is
“an infringement on the personal freedom and safety of the historian and her family.” Anne-Lot Hoek clarifies: “It is annoying that my work is so misunderstood by this party, but that should of course never be a reason to speak so badly about someone’s person for so long and repeatedly.”
According to KNHG director Antia Wiersema, who is speaking on behalf of the board on this issue, academic freedom is at stake: “What makes this case extra special is the threatening nature of the words and images spread by the people who respond to Anne-Lot Hoek. The history profession requires discussion, but this is no longer a scientific conversation.”
First of all, it is remarkable that the NRC posts this derogatory message without asking chairman Jeffry Pondaag of the KUKB foundation, an Indonesian living in the Netherlands, for a response. Proper journalism is characterised by hearing both sides. The NRC, which calls itself a grindstone of the mind, apparently found it unnecessary to abide by this principle in this case. Marjolein van Pagee, who has been asked for her opinion, can of course only speak for the Histori Bersama Foundation.
Also NU.nl, one of the major news-websites in The Netherlands, apparently felt compelled to serve solely as a mouthpiece for the defamatory messages from the KNHG. NU.nl reports on 30 January 2024: “KUKB Foundation did not want to respond.” However, this is incorrect. The truth is that Jeffry Pondaag was never asked for any response by NU.nl.
Secondly, the accusations that KNHG and Anne-Lot Hoek make against the KUKB Foundation without any further factual substantiation, are far-reaching, while in recent time no public statements have been made by or on behalf of the KUKB Foundation regarding Anne-Lot Hoek at all. Also in recent time, there have been no contact with Anne-Lot Hoek by or on behalf of the KUKB Foundation.
It therefore simply cannot be true what NU.nl writes: “Nu.nl has read texts and seen images that seem to confirm the KNHG’s reading.”
The KNHG’s sudden preoccupation with Anne-Lot Hoek is therefore somewhat curious.
Of course, all this does not alter the fact that the KUKB Foundation still maintains a fundamental critique of the research Independence, decolonisation, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945-1950.
This criticism was once expressed in an open letter: https://historibersama.com/questions-about-the-dutch-research-project/
Between 2017 and 2019 Anne-Lot Hoek took also part in this research project.
The KUKB Foundation welcomes the fact that more historical research is being conducted into the Indonesian war of independence, in which the Netherlands played an extremely damaging role as the coloniser of Indonesia. In this case, however, the former coloniser, who clearly still has an interest in cultivating a certain image of that period, not only paid for the research, but also determined the political framework conditions. The KUKB Foundation therefore criticises that this could be dubbed a case of thorough and independent research.
At the same time, the KUKB Foundation criticises the lack of inclusivity of the research. The critical anti-colonial Indonesian perspective, as expressed by the KUKB Foundation, among others, was excluded from the design of the fundamental framework of the research. The few Indonesian researchers who were admitted to take part in the research therefore worked more or less as mere employees within a framework dominated by Dutch interests.
In the eyes of the KUKB Foundation, these are still valid points that are more than worth being brought to the attention of the public.
Although the KUKB Foundation is able to understand that government subsidies as a source of employment are in general of great importance for members of the KNHG and that its criticism could therefore come across as painful, it nevertheless calls on the KNHG to do some effort to discuss things in a mature manner instead of resorting to childish accusations without any basis in the facts.
With regard to a healthy debate it goes without saying: if you cannot stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
The KUKB Foundation considers the accusations against it as part of a broader societal development according to which it seems not a rarity anymore that an established reputation is misused just to launch fabricated public accusations of intimidation and threats in an effort to silence outsiders responsible for spreading meaningful criticisms. Especially when major interests are involved.
We request the KNHG, NRC, NU.nl, KITLV and Anne-Lot Hoek to issue a rectification as soon as possible. There is no proof that we intimidated and threatened Hoek. The public spreading of unfounded accusations is unlawful.