The unexplained island
Stacii Samidin’s journey begins on the mysterious island of Onrust (Unrest), an island off the coast that is widely regarded as a tourist venue. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Old ruins are still visible on the island.
Muslims forcibly detained
The island of Onrust lies one and a half hours away by boat from the Jakarta coast. It’s an island with a secretive past, that served as a quarantine station for Muslims who had undertaken the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hadj. The Dutch held the Muslims prisoner, giving as reason that they should remain on the island to guard against the spread of infectious diseases. In reality the Dutch were unfamiliar with Islam and wanted to learn about the Muslims’ culture and beliefs. At the same time the Dutch sought to indoctrinate the Muslims to encourage them to distance themselves from their culture and religion.
Stacii Samidin | Travel journal
“Before I travelled here, I learned about the country at home during my research for the exhibition.
The island of Onrust is far from being a tourist venue and numbers virtually no visitors, so to experience it up close was a very intense experience. The ruins of old colonial buildings are still there. The feelings from long ago are almost tangible -- you could almost smell the scent of death. I had a strong premonition that the Muslims interned here would have left messages behind and so I went out in search of them. Through good fortune I found a series of inscriptions carved in stone and I was overcome by emotion. It was a text from the Koran. Added to that I came across the graves of VOC generals buried on the island…”