Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has apologised for the Netherlands’ past role in slavery, adding that it must be recognised in “the clearest terms” as “a crime against humanity”.
At the National Archives in the Hague, Rutte told organisations advocating for recognition of the consequences of slavery that the Dutch government has enabled, encouraged, maintained and benefited from slavery for centuries,reports Xinhua news agency.
“For centuries, people have been commodified, exploited and mistreated in the name of the Dutch state,” Rutte said.
“Under Dutch state authority, human dignity has been trampled in the most horrific way. Few Dutch governments after 1863 have seen and recognized that the slavery past had and still has a negative impact. For that I apologize on behalf of the Dutch government.”
In former and current parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, such as Suriname, Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, members of the Dutch government will start to discuss what those apologies mean on the ground with the organisations and authorities involved.
Along with the formal apology, the Dutch government is expected to allocate 200 million euros to awareness projects and pledge to spend 27 million euros on a slavery museum.
More than 600,000 people from Africa and Asia were trafficked by Dutch merchants between the 17th and 19th Centuries, the BBC reported.
During the 17th Century, the Netherlands was one of the most prosperous trading nations in the world, in a period known as the “Golden Age” that saw huge advancements in science and culture.
Huge wealth was generated through state-mandated enslavement and exploitation.