After years of wrestling, the Netherlands wants to apologize for slavery in its former colonies. However, there is controversy in advance about the date of December 19, which has not yet been officially confirmed, and the form of the apology.
In an urgent procedure, Surinamese associations want to ensure that the apology is not made on an arbitrary date but on July 1st next year, 160 years after the official abolition of slavery by the Netherlands. They also do not feel involved, as reported by the ANP news agency.
Interest groups submitted a list of demands to the government. The acknowledgment of slavery, apologies and reparations should be enshrined in law, the organizations find, as the broadcaster NOS reported on Saturday. The government must also take care of combating discrimination against the descendants of slaves that is still having an impact today. The Netherlands should also cancel debts to the Caribbean islands and Suriname.
descendants of slaves
The fact that Franc Weerwind, a Dutch minister who is himself a descendant of slaves, is said to be in the former colony of Suriname on December 19 caused a stir. In Suriname, this was met with criticism, a representative of the Surinamese organization for the memory of slavery in the Netherlands demanded that "a white person" in Suriname should apologize, the media reported.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday that Weerwind's visit would be maintained. The color of a minister's skin could not play a role in a gesture related to slavery. Rutte did not say what exactly will happen on December 19 and whether it is about an official apology.
Next year the Netherlands will commemorate the end of slavery. Above all, descendants of slaves and residents of the former colonies had campaigned for an apology. For years, Prime Minister Rutte's government had refused. A commission set up by the government then declared in July that the Netherlands had to apologize and actively work to combat the consequences, such as racism.