TERRORISM: Siege in Holland

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In eastern Holland, dark-skinned parishioners were shocked and frightened when rocks shattered windows in their church. A 16-year-old Indonesian girl was attacked by young Dutch toughs. Dutch newspaper offices and The Netherlands Justice Ministry were flooded with thousands of letters, many of them demanding a government decision to, as one outraged citizen put it bluntly, "shoot the bastards!"

The target of all this rage, in a country that has always prided itself as the archetype of the liberal society, is Holland's community of some 35,000 refugees from South Molucca, a group of islands that is now part of Indonesia (see map). The cause of the backlash against the South Moluccan minority was one of the longest terrorist sieges in memory. At week's end, South Moluccan gunmen who had taken over a railroad train near the town of Beilen 13 days ago finally surrendered and released 23 hostages. Terrorists still held the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam, where they had another 25 lives to bargain with. Three people aboard the train had been killed by the terrorists; another died after jumping from a consulate window in an escape attempt.

Passionate Cause. The young terrorists were descendants of South Molucca islanders who arrived in Holland a generation ago. Their demand, independence for the South Molucca Islands, was another of those obscure but passionate causes growing out of colonial times and puzzling to Europeans (see following story). As the siege dragged on, the Dutch army erected minimilitary camps around the consulate and the train. After the initial violence, the atmosphere aboard the train lapsed into a tense quiet. "But it was getting very cold," reported an elderly hostage who was released last week. The terrorists refused to allow mechanics to repair the train's heating system, but they accepted piles of blankets.

Around the country, Dutchmen grew more and more outraged by what they saw as an abuse of their tolerance and good will. One South Moluccan clergyman delivered a stern warning to his compatriots: "There are Dutchmen who want revenge on us. Call the police immediately if you're threatened. Never go anywhere all by yourself. We must remain on good terms with the Dutch."

The real South Moluccan troublemakers model themselves after the Palestine Liberation Organization. They demand the creation of an independent state in the islands that they—or, more typically, their parents—were forced to flee after the Dutch left and the Indonesians took over in 1950. Most of the islanders living in The Netherlands recognize that the goal of an independent South Molucca is scarcely realistic. Johan Manusama, 65, president of the self-styled South Moluccan government-in-exile, regularly appears on television to urge Dutchmen not to punish other South Moluccans for the sins of the young "freedom fighters" holding the hostages.

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