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The Netherlands’ apology for its legacy of colonial slavery

exposes divisions in Dutch society

by Isabel Ferrer

Activist groups express dismay that the prime minister hasn’t pushed harder for broader dialogue about the need for an official state apology.

chains I collectie NAAM

December 19, 2022 has become a historic date for the Netherlands. It was the day that Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for the first time on behalf of the Dutch government “for the role played in the past by the state in the trade and exploitation of human beings during the 250 years of the Dutch colonial era.” Rutte also used the language of international justice to describe slavery as a “crime against humanity,” perpetrated by the Netherlands in Suriname (South America) and in the former Netherlands Antilles (Caribbean). He also mentioned the country’s harsh colonial rule of Indonesia. The speech was widely praised, especially because Rutte had previously declined to apologize about something “for which no one today can be blamed.” However, his words did little to dispel internal tensions, nor did they appease the descendants of slaves in Suriname, who wanted the apology delivered on July 1, 2023, the 150th anniversary of emancipation in that country.

continue reading on the English language page of El País (International), January 6, 2023.

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