History

The Tanah Merah Exiles in Australia

In Brisbane’s southern suburbs, among decidedly Anglo-Australian suburb names, such as Loganholme and Meadowbrook, the name Tanah Merah stands out. Few of its residents know that their suburb’s name means “red earth” in Bahasa Indonesia, the national language of our most populous neighbour, and that it was named after a notorious prison camp in Dutch West New Guinea. Given our current, closer, relationship with the Republic of Indonesia, it is timely to reflect on the contribution to Australian and Indonesian history made by the 500 internees and their families from Tanah Merah who were interned in different camps around Australia,…

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