Potential Dutch slavery apology plan faces backlash
Groups from former Dutch colonies oppose an "arbitrary" December date for an apology from the Dutch government over slavery and say they were not consulted.
The Dutch government is struggling with the disputed issue of an apology for slavery on Thursday after groups in former colonies criticized reported plans for one later this month.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after meeting representatives of the groups in The Hague that there would be a "meaningful moment" on the subject on December 19.
But he did not confirm earlier media reports that it would involve a formal apology by Dutch ministers traveling to former colonies, plus funding for a slavery museum.
Groups from former colonies such as Suriname in South America and Caribbean countries have opposed the "arbitrary" December date and said they were not consulted.
The groups want an apology to come on July 1, 2023, the 150th anniversary of the end of slavery in Dutch-seized lands, which had funded an economic and cultural so-called "Golden Age" of the Netherlands.
"You assume it will be done in a way that both parties are satisfied with, but that is absolutely not the case with us," said Johan Roozer, chairman of the Surinamese National Commemoration of Slavery Remembrance Committee.
He explained that Rutte wanted to stick to December 19 because of the "changing political situation," with Dutch far-right parties rising in the polls and opposing any apology.
The Dutch Prime Minister claimed the government wanted to "make a success" of the date and that it was part of a "process".
The Netherlands has been slowly dealing with the legacy of its colonial history and its role in 250 years of slavery in Suriname, Brazil, the Caribbean, Asia, and South Africa.
It is noteworthy that the city of Amsterdam has formally apologized for its role in the slave trade, while the city's national museum, Rijksmuseum, last year held the first exhibition confronting the issue.