1740 - The Massacre of 10.000 Chinese

Since the foundation of Batavia, the Chinese have settled in and around the city. At first, they were used for building Batavia and the cultivation of the surrounding areas.

Very soon a lot of Chinese tradesmen entered the country, which eventually resulted in the dependency of the VOC on these tradesmen for trade with China. In fact, the prosperity of the VOC depended on Inter-Asian trade, so in fact they were mostly dependent on the Chinese tradesmen from Batavia who naturally had the best trade contacts. Both parties needed each other, so peace and order was required.

However, the Dutch in Batavia started to get more and more annoyed by the privileges the Chinese had; they were a bit jealous. The Chinese were virtually equal to the Dutch on the level of status and this was an important deal for the Dutch, who felt superior to the Chinese. Just the Dutch and the Chinese paid taxes and this made a lot of people angry...

One of the branches that were mainly under control by the Chinese was, for instance, the growth of sugar in the Ommelanden of Batavia. The bigger part of the work was done by large amounts of Chinese koelies, who were hired by Chinese entrepreneurs. This resulted in an enormous growth of the Chinese population in the area reigned by the VOC in and around Batavia. Right before 1740 approximately half of the population in and around Batavia was Chinese.

Even around 1690 they tried to limit the immigration from China. The koelies were legally excluded from everything. They can be compared to our 'illegal aliens' of this time. So, for the Chinese traders it became more and more favourable to hire koelies: it was not possible to earn taxes for illegal Chinese. A well known vicious circle that is still applicable! This way it was possible for an extensive army of completely illegal, exploited Chinese labourers to rise in the Ommelanden. They were so afraid of being handed over to the Dutch authorities, that they did not even make demands to improve their situation of living. Moreover, the Dutch (as corrupt as they were) simply participated in these practises up to the level of the Governor-General: this way everybody had cheap labourers and so an economical balance developed between the Dutch, the Chinese and the koelies.
And this went terribly wrong....

From 1720 on the sugar market slowly collapsed. The European markets became satisfied; moreover the competition from Brazil (which was cheaper) became bigger. Dozens of Chinese sugar tradesmen went bankrupt and with them the koelies. This way great unemployment arose and this almost automatically led to revengeful gangs of koelies who, without money or food, saw no other way out. Evidently nothing was done by Batavia to lessen the problems because that way their own corrupt practises would be discovered.

In July 1740 it was announced that all koelies from the Ommelanden would be transferred to the Dutch stations on Ceylon (Galle). The rumour that during the transfer the koelies would be thrown overboard was quickly born. True or not: the exploited Chines revolted. Large killing and plundering gangs roamed through the Ommelanden and they even tried to attack Batavia.

In the night of 8 October the run on Batavia could barely be rejected. Nobody dared to go in the Ommelanden anymore! That is when the rumour started that the Chinese in Batavia wanted to cooperate with the Chinese in the Ommelanden.

On 9 October, the houses of over 5000 Chinese living within the walls of Batavia were searched. This went completely out of hand: for three days in a row every Chinese was murdered. Even already captured Chinese and Chinese that were registered in 'hospitals' were killed. Even the government gave out a reward for every decapitated head... Order was reinstated after a few days by that same government. From that moment on the Chinese were allowed to live only in special districts. In Batavia that would be the Glodok district, where a lot of Chinese still live.

Very soon after the massacres they started searching the accountable : : for the first time the highest authorities from Batavia had to account for their actions at the Heeren XVII in Amsterdam! One of the responsible authorities Governor-General Valckenier died while he was taken into temporary arrest. Another responsible authority, the next Governor-General van Imhoff died in 1750.

And then the cover up came again.

It is estimated that 5,000 - 10,000 victims fell in three days. A preacher in Batavia even made it look like the massacre was carried out with Gods help... But even then there were people who protested and so the Heeren XVII were forced to take action.

In 1902 (during the pacification of Aceh!) even a pamphlet appeared: "The murder of 10,000 harmless Chinese was never punished. One of the most important people responsible, Governor-General Valckenier, died in prison and the Heeren XVII declared the trial that was run against him" abolished by death".The case would be forever covered up." - Archengel