In his Christmas speech on Sunday, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands welcomed the government’s apology for the Dutch role in 250 years of slavery, saying it was “the beginning of a long journey”.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday formally apologized for Dutch involvement in slavery in the former colony, calling it a “crime against humanity”.
From the Palace of Huis Ten Bosch in The Hague, Willem-Alexander said, “Today, no one is responsible for the inhumane acts inflicted on the lives of men, women and children.
“But by facing our shared past honestly and recognizing the crime against humanity of slavery, we are laying the groundwork for a shared future, one that opposes all of the discrimination, exploitation and injustice of our time. can be built.”
“A government apology is the beginning of a long journey.”
The Netherlands financed the “golden age” of empire and culture in the 16th and 17th centuries, sending about 600,000 Africans, mainly to South America and the Caribbean, as part of the slave trade.
The Dutch government has said several major commemorative events will take place from next year, announcing a €200 million ($212 million) fund for social initiatives.
Willem-Alexander promised that the topic would keep the royal family’s attention during the anniversary year and that they would remain “involved.”
However, Rutte’s move went against the wishes of some slave memorial groups who wanted him to apologize on July 1, 2023.
Descendants of Dutch slavery celebrate the 150th anniversary of liberation from slavery at an annual celebration in Suriname called “Keti Koti” (Breaking the Chains).
The leaders of Sint Maarten in the Caribbean and Suriname in South America lamented the lack of dialogue from the Netherlands over an apology.
Some former Dutch colonies demanded reparations for slavery and criticized the government for failing to take concrete action.
https://www.expatica.com/nl/general/dutch-king-says-slavery-apology-start-of-long-journey-460458/ Dutch King Says Slavery Apology Begins ‘Long Journey’