Psychiatry hospital Sabang


The mental asylum at Sabang on the island Pulau Weh was established in september 1923.
It was the fourth psychiatric hospital that was founded in NI, a public hospital that was under control of  the government.
The Krankzinnigengesticht Sabang had in 1930 a number of 1222 beds (Indisch Verslag 1930).

Further information may be obtained from the publication “Sumatraanse indrukken”, a document that gives ample considerations from a psychiatrist.

Modern literature (David Kloos: Colonial pathologies and racial injustice) mentions the mysterious “Atjeh murders”: Some Acehnese continued their ‘holy war’ on an individual base by attacking Europeans in the hope of being killed in the act and die a martyr. The author explains: ” as the Dutch could not really fathom the attacks, they pathologized them. The murders were framed as symptoms of a racial condition, the result of a centuries long degeneration of the Acehnese mind.”

In 1923, the largest mental asylum of the Netherlands Indies was built in response to the attacks and on the basis of advice provided by ethnologists and psychiatrists. And so the building of a large hospital starts in 1923 on the island of Weh (Pulau Weh). By the end of the year there is an establishment for 1100 insane people, later on even for 1400 patients.

Thousands of people were incarcerated and ‘treated’ there involuntarily. The buildings still exist nowadays, but are no longer used as mental asylum.Uit: Gonggryp (1934): ‘ Groot-Atjeh, afdeling van het gouvernement Atjeh en Onderhoorigheden, onder een assistent-resident Hoofdplaats Koetaradja.
De afdeling bestaat uit 4 onderafdelingen: 1. Koetaradja; 2. Lhonga; 3. Seulimeum; 4. Sabang.
De hele afdeling bestaat uit rechtstreeks bestuurd gebied en telt ongeveer 132000 inwoners, w.o. bijna 1600 Europeanen en bijna 6000 Chinezen.’

Uit: Grote Atlas van Nederlandsch Oost-Indie, pag. 77 rechtsboven. The mental asylum may be traced on the right side, next to the Protestant Church and the
military barracks.

Nowadays (2020) the buildings still exist, but the psychiatric hospital itself moved to the mainland, to Banda Aceh (in former days: Koetaradja). The hospital is called Rumah Sakit Jiwa Banda Aceh, is part of the provincial healthcare and in classified as a Category A hospital with 354 beds (registration: 117104). Its website: