Dutch king makes historic apology for slavery
The King of the Netherlands has made an apology to the world for the monarchy's slave trading history.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander offered a rare royal apology for the Netherlands' participation in slavery on Saturday, saying he was "personally and intensely" impacted.
Thousands of descendants of slaves from Suriname and the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao gathered in Amsterdam for the "Keti Koti" ("breaking the chains" in Surinamese) ceremonies to mark 150 years since slavery was abolished.
Willem-Alexander addressed the crowd saying, "Today I'm standing here in front of you as your king and as part of the government. Today I am apologizing personally...I am intensely experiencing this with my heart and soul."
The King said that "slave trading and slavery is recognized as a crime against humanity," and that "The monarchs and rulers of the House of Orange took no steps against it."
During his speech on live television, the monarch asked for "forgiveness for the crystal-clear lack of action, on this day when we are commemorating slavery in the Netherlands."
Slave descendants have asked the king to utilize the occasion to apologize ahead of the ceremony. "That is important, especially because the Afro-Dutch community considers it important," Linda Nooitmeer, chairman of the National Institute of Dutch Slavery History and Legacy, told public broadcaster NOS.
Netherland's tainted 250-year history of slavery receives an apology
The King's apology came after the Prime Minister of the Netherlands apologized in December last year.
PM Mark Rutte, presented on December 19, a formal apology for the Netherlands' 250 years of slavery, calling it a "crime against humanity."
The Dutch government ended its shameful practice 150 years ago, after it enslaved peoples across different parts of the Global South, including Suriname, Indonesia, and the islands of Aruba, and Curacao.
At The Hague, Rutte said, "Today on behalf of the Dutch government, I apologize for the past actions of the Dutch state," adding that "For centuries, the Dutch state and its representatives have enabled and stimulated slavery and have profited from it."
"It is true that nobody alive today bears any personal guilt for slavery … [however] the Dutch state bears responsibility for the immense suffering that has been done to those that were enslaved and their descendants."
Several ministers have reportedly traveled to seven countries in Latin America within the apology's framework.
The Dutch and slavery
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.