Tabee Toean by Verheul, Tom
In Tabee Toean - meaning Goodbye Sir in Indonesian - five veterans of the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-1949) share their recollections, telling us how they as young soldiers, unprepared for guerrilla warfare, found themselves in a devils circle of excessive violence and cruelty.
On the 17th of August 1945, Sukarno proclaimed Indonesia's independence. Being the colonial rulers, the Dutch sent troops to restore order. It turned out to be the beginning of a bloody guerrilla war in which thousands were killed. More than 45 years later, the memories of these police actions as they were euphemistically called in The Netherlands have by no means faded for those who fought in the Dutch East Indies.
By taking the veterans back to the places in Indonesia where they had their painful experiences, director Verheul succeeds splendidly in bringing the past to life. A former lieutenant returns to the village where he 'downed' his first native and speaks with a witness and relatives. Questions thrust themselves upon us: what makes somebody shoot or torture another man? Is forgiving possible? And especially: how would I behave under those circumstances?