22 Jan 2021

The planting of the trees is preceded by a symposium in the blue hall of the Town Hall of Wassenaar.

In his welcoming speech Mr Leendert de Lange, Mayor of Wassenaar, recalls  that over 2 million Dutch people have an Indonesian connection – by ancestors or by history. ‘Personally I look back with great pleasure on the stories of my grandfather who sailed as chief mechanical engineer on the ‘MS Orange’ to Indonesia.’ The meaning of commemorating 75 Years of Freedom is, says the mayor, ‘our shared responsibility to pass on freedom to future generations.’ The creation of the United Nations in 1945 was a direct expression of this intention of the nations. What further binds our two countries together is nature. ‘We also have a mutual responsibility to sustain the Earth and take care of our natural environment. After the symposium the Mayor will plant the freedom tree for the Netherlands.

For the complete text of  Mayor Leendert de Lange please click here.

The first speaker is former minister and chair of the INS trustees, Willem van Eekelen. He explains that he was still too young for military service just after the end of Second World War II. He followed the decolonization of Indies/Indonesia from a distance. The Linggarjati agreement in 1946 provided an opportunity for a peaceful transition, but soon it turned out differently. Historical research will show what role the Dutch armed forces played in the violent period between 1947 and 1950. ‘The Indonesia Nederland Society stresses the example of Linggarjati as the first meeting between equals and an example of successful negotiations. Equality and respect remain our basic norms.’  Willem van Eekelen concludes: ‘And now we are planting trees together. Full marks for Wassenaar for responding in such a fantastic way to the initiative of Joty ter Kulve for doing things together.’

For the complete text of Mr. Willem van Eekelen please click here.








Mr. Fikry Cassidy, Chargé d’ Affaires of The Indonesian Embassy compares the development of Indonesia – from its birth from the ashes of World War II until now – with a full grown tree. About  the relationship between Indonesia and the Netherlands he says: ‘There is a simple saying that if two strangers can act as good neighbours, we too can form a community. Netherlands is not only a neighbor, but also a partner. It is thus an honour for us to plant a tree side – by – side with the Netherlands and symbolically form an eco-community to shelter our two peoples and cover themselves through mutual beneficial relations. It is our firm belief that we can do more when we are united.’ Mr. Cassidy will plant the freedom tree for Indonesia.

For the complete addresss of Mr. Fikry Cassidy please click here.









Former minister of Foreign Affairs and INS trustee Bernard Bot also feels ‘very much connected’ with Indonesia. ‘I was born there and spent part of my youth in Batavia during a period of profound change and upheaval. In a certain way, I can even say that I was present at the creation on August 17, 1945.’ On the relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia, he comments: ‘Our relationship with Indonesia in the meantime has grown into a mature one, strongly anchored in past and recent history. And even more important, it remains a dynamic and ever developing relationship.’ He likes the younger generation to be regularly reminded of the importance of ‘maintaining a warm and forward-looking relationship with Indonesia, otherwise we forget what it took to reach this stage.’ Bernard Bot will plant the freedom tree for the United Nations.

For the complete of the address of Mr. Bot please click here.








Because of her health condition Joty ter Kulve unfortunately is not present, but she is represented by Peter and Elisabeth, her son and daughter. Peter ter Kulve warmly introduces his mother and the video film in which Joty explains why she wanted to organize this commemorative meeting.


To watch the interview please click on the photo of Joty ter Kulve or click here.









After the film interview Jesse Kuijper, founder of The Borneo Initiative (TBI), takes the floor. He explains his passion and work for the forests of Indonesia. It all started in 2007 during the International Climate Conference in Bali. He was there when President Susilo Bambang Yhudoyono asked his audience the question: “Who is going to help Indonesia save its tropical rainforests?” The call of the Indonesian president touched him so deeply that in 2008 he founded The Borneo Initiative. His for purpose foundation step by step approached as many partners and stakeholders it could to make forestry in Indonesia more sustainable. The area that The Borneo Initiative now covers with contracts for sustainable forestry and reforestation programs has grown to 10 million hectares, largely on Kalimantan, but also on Sumatra and Papua. For the ecological balance and climate control on earth, the preservation of tropical rainforests and their biodiversity is invaluable. This requires long-term cooperation of many partner organizations and stakeholders in Indonesia and in Europe; from bottom up projects for small foresters communities to participation of the private sector and services of the regional and national governments. In order to preserve the rainforests of Indonesia raising environmental awareness among European consumers to buy certified sustainable timber is also necessary.

With the ‘Forests for our Children’ education program for primary schools The Borneo Initiative wants to contribute to the environmental awareness of school children in the Netherlands.

The Sekolah Indonesia The Hague and the Herenwegschool Wassenaar are the first schools to participate in this nature education project. Jesse Kuijper is happy that students from both schools today will participate in the freedom trees planting program. This morning he enjoyed teaching a nature lesson at the Sekolah Indonesia and he is looking forward to visit the Herenwegschool. ‘Each student of both schools,’ he says, ‘will have his or her own tree on Kalimantan in a reforestation program.’ In order to hand over the tree planting certificates for the students, he asks Mr Herman and Mr Bob van den Steenhoven to come forward. By handing the tree plant certificates to the principals Jesse Kuijper officially starts the environmental education program of The Borneo Initiative. ‘For the students of the Sekolah Indonesia and the Herenwegschool participating in this commemoration is a rich and meaningful experience,’ comment both principals. They like to keep in touch with The Borneo Initiative and as schools with one another. To underscore this intention, Mr Bob van den Steenhoven and Mr Herman sign a joint declaration.

Jesse Kuijper closes his presentation by showing a video-film of The Borneo Initiative: please click here to watch the video. To watch the full presentation please click here.


Article written by Monica Bouman