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Dutch Prime Minister Apologizes for Nation's Slave Trading Past

© AFP 2023 / ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSENDutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (R) addresses a speech in the National Archives in The Hague, on December 19, 2022.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (R) addresses a speech in the National Archives in The Hague, on December 19, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.12.2022
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized on Monday on behalf of his government for the Netherlands’ slavery past and the lasting impact that centuries of exploitation had on former colonies.
"For centuries, under Dutch state authority, human dignity was violated in the most horrific way possible. And successive Dutch governments after 1863 failed to adequately see and acknowledge that our slavery past continued to have negative effects and still does. For that I offer the apologies of the Dutch government," he said in a speech at the National Archives in The Hague.
Dutch slave traders shipped more than 600,000 Africans to the kingdom's South American and Caribbean colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries until the Netherlands formally abolished slavery in 1863. It took Suriname another decade to end the practice. Around a million more slaves were trafficked in Asia by the government-controlled Dutch East India Company to work on its plantations.

“We who live in today’s world must acknowledge the evils of slavery in the clearest possible terms, and condemn it as a crime against humanity,” the PM said.

Rutte said his sentiment was shared by Dutch representatives in the Netherlands’ seven former colonies of Suriname, Curacao, St Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, and St Eustatius — but he stopped short of offering descendants of those enslaved compensation for 250 years of abuse.
Instead, the Netherlands will set up a fund for social activities in the Dutch overseas territories and Suriname and foster awareness of the issue through education and academic historic research, Rutte said. He declared 2023, the 160th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, a memorial year.
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