The Netherlands pioneer in apologies for slavery past

ANP Productions | Bron: ANP

Saturday, December 10, 2022 at 09:21

the Hague

Although the exact date is not yet clear and no official announcement has yet been made by the cabinet, it is certain that the Netherlands will apologize for the slavery past in Suriname and the Caribbean Netherlands. Our country thus joins a select group of states that have preceded us.

So far, only Brazil, Peru and Benin, Africa, have officially apologized. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva did so in 2005 during a visit to Senegal. Peru apologized in 2009 for centuries of “abuse, exclusion and discrimination” against people of African descent. In 1999, President Mathieu Kérékou of Benin asked black Americans for forgiveness for the role that Africans themselves played in slavery. A minister and an ambassador to the United States did this again in 2000 and 2003.

Belgium apologized several times for crimes in its colonies, the most important of which were the Belgian Congo and Rwanda-Burundi in Africa, but never specifically mentioned slavery. The United States House of Representatives and Senate have also issued apologies, as have several individual states such as Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia.

Tony Blair

A number of countries have expressed regret for the slavery past. The Minister of Labor Juan Carlos Aparicio Pérez spoke it out on behalf of Spain in 2001 and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair did so in 2006 and 2007. Portugal, which was also one of the largest slave traders for centuries, has never done so as far as is known. France, which has a rich colonial past in Africa and Southeast Asia, has also failed to do so.

Worldwide, various cities and companies have apologized. The British cities of London and Liverpool and Chicago and Charleston in the US did so, as did the insurance company Lloyd’s of London and pub operator Greene King. In Liverpool, then an important port city for the slave trade, annual commemorations have been held ever since.

Coat Gate

In the Netherlands, apologies have been offered by Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, the province of North Holland and by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB). Middelburg will follow next year during Keti Koti, the annual celebration on July 1 of the abolition of slavery. In 2023, that date will be extra special, because it will be 150 years ago that slavery ended in practice.

From 1621, the Netherlands became one of the largest slave traders in the world. Slavery was legally abolished in 1863, but then it took another ten years for the enslaved to be freed.

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