Apology for slavery leaves Dutch divided
The Netherlands is expected to apologize for slavery with a speech on Monday.
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands will give a statement on Monday, and ministers will go to the Caribbean and Suriname. All of these events are part of the Netherlands' planned apology for slavery. What Mark Rutte plans to say now is unknown due to criticism about the day picked and the manner in which the announcement was handled.
Critics complain about inadequate consultation and charge that the Dutch cabinet's efforts to force it through have a "colonial feel."
A court injunction was filed by six Suriname foundations to postpone the apology until July 1, 2023, which would be the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies. "If there's an apology, it should be on the first of July, which is the date of our emancipation, when they removed our shackles," says DJ Etienne Wix, whose community radio station mArt was among the groups seeking a different date.
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Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Dutch traders trafficked more than 600,000 individuals from Africa and Asia.
In the "New World," which was comprised of colonized lands in the Americas and Caribbean, enslaved men, women, and children were made to labor as household slaves, in mines, and on sugar, coffee, and tobacco plantations. Extreme physical, mental, and sexual abuse was inflicted upon them.
Profits from this grueling labor contributed to the "Golden Age," a time of economic prosperity in the 17th century when the Netherlands experienced enormous advances in science and culture.
In addition to a formal apology, the Dutch government has vowed to spend €27 million on a slavery museum and €200 million (£175 million) on awareness initiatives.
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An impartial study into the Dutch royal family's involvement in colonialism's past and present has been ordered by King Willem-Alexander.
This is happening as other royal families reflect on their participation in the slave trade. During remarks in Rwanda and Jamaica earlier this year, King Charles III of the UK and the Prince of Wales expressed "personal" and "profound" grief for Britain's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.
An official apology from the Dutch may put additional pressure on other countries to explicitly acknowledge and make reparations for past and present violations of human rights.