Netherlands apologises for Dutch authorities’s position in slavery


PM Mark Rutte says the Dutch state has enabled, stimulated and profited from slavery for hundreds of years.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has formally apologised on behalf of the Dutch state for its historic position in slavery, and for penalties that he acknowledged proceed into the current day.

“Today I apologise,” Rutte mentioned on Monday, talking at a nationally televised speech on the Dutch National Archives.

“For centuries, the Dutch state and its representatives have enabled and stimulated slavery and have profited from it.

“It is true that nobody alive today bears any personal guilt for slavery … [however] the Dutch state bears responsibility for the immense suffering that has been done to those that were enslaved and their descendants.”

Colonial previous

The apology comes amid a wider reconsideration of the nation’s colonial previous, together with efforts to return looted artwork, and its present struggles with racism.

The prospect of an apology on a December afternoon in The Hague had been met with resistance from teams who say it ought to come from King Willem-Alexander within the former colony of Suriname, on July 1, 2023 – the 160th anniversary of Dutch abolition.

“It takes two to tango – apologies have to be received,” mentioned Roy Kaikusi Groenberg of the Honor and Recovery Foundation, a Dutch Afro-Surinamese organisation.

He mentioned it felt fallacious that activists who’re descendants of slaves have struggled for years to alter the nationwide dialogue however had not been sufficiently consulted.

“The way the government is handling this, it’s coming across as a neocolonial belch,” he mentioned.

Rutte acknowledged a careless dealing with of the run-up to the announcement and mentioned the Dutch authorities is sending representatives to Suriname, in addition to to Caribbean islands that stay part of the dominion of the Netherlands with various levels of autonomy: Curacao, Sint Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius.