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The long-awaited pardon of the King of the Netherlands on slavery

The long-awaited pardon of the King of the Netherlands on slavery

Published on Saturday 01 July 2023 at 06:32

An apology from King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is eagerly anticipated during his speech on Saturday to mark 150 years since the abolition of slavery in the former Dutch colonies.

Thousands of descendants of enslaved people in the former South American colony of Suriname and the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are expected to attend the anniversary celebrations in Amsterdam, part of an annual celebration called “Getty Cody”. Chains” in Sranandongo (one of Suriname’s languages).

The commemoration is the first since the government formally apologized for slavery in the Netherlands last December.

The king, however, refused to confirm the apology for the country’s slavery, which, according to one report, contributed significantly to the enrichment of the House of Orange-Nassau, from which he was descended.

“I think we have to wait until July 1,” he told reporters during a recent visit to Belgium.

“I understand very well people’s desire for me to do it, but I ask you to wait until then.”

Dutch media, citing sources familiar with the matter, however predict an apology.

The King’s speech will be broadcast live on national television from Amsterdam’s Oosterpark.

Descendants of enslaved peoples have called for a formal apology from King.

“It’s very important to digest the slave past,” Linda Nuitmeier, president of the National Institute for the Pest and Legacy of Slavery (NiNsee), said in a public broadcast interview in May. Dutch NOS.

– A wealthy royal family –

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Since the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, the Netherlands has engaged in an often difficult debate about the colonial and slave-trading past that made it one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

According to a report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and published in June, the colonies brought in the equivalent of 545 million euros for the royal family between 1675 and 1770, a time when slavery was widespread.

Distant ancestors of the current king of the Netherlands, William III of Orange-Nasa, William IV of Orange-Nasa and William V of Orange-Nasa, were in the report “deliberate, structural and long-term involvement in slavery.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte issued an official government apology in The Hague in December for the Dutch state’s role in 250 years of slavery, which he called a “crime against humanity”.

In his Christmas speech, the King of the Netherlands welcomed the government’s apologies for the Dutch state’s role during 250 years of slavery and declared that these were “the beginning of a long road”.

Slavery helped finance the Dutch “Golden Age” of prosperity through maritime trade in the 16th and 17th centuries. The country trafficked around 600,000 Africans, mostly to South America and the Caribbean.

Although the official abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies dates back 160 years, its actual use only lasted 150 years.