Rutte Apologized on behalf of the Netherlands for its role in the Slave Trade
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized yesterday on behalf of his country for the role of the Netherlands in slavery, "Reuters" reported, quoted by BTA.
Rutte also said that slavery should be recognized "in the clearest possible terms" as a "crime against humanity".
Rutte made the official apology, although some human rights groups urged him to wait until July 1 next year, the anniversary of the abolition of slavery by the Netherlands 160 years ago, the Associated Press noted. Some of the activists even took their demand to court last week, but their attempt failed to block the prime minister's speech.
"Today I apologize," Rutte said at the start of his 20-minute speech, which was met with silence from an audience specially invited for the event, held at the National Archives in The Hague.
"We know that there is no right time for everyone, that there are no right words for everyone, that there is no right place for everyone," Rutte added.
The Dutch prime minister said the government would set up an initiative fund to help the country deal with the legacy of slavery in the Netherlands and its former colonies.
The Dutch prime minister's address was in response to a report published last year by a government-appointed advisory board. Its recommendations included an apology from the government and acceptance that the slave trade and slavery from the 17th century until its abolition, which occurred directly or indirectly under Dutch rule, were "crimes against humanity".
The report said what it called institutional racism in the Netherlands "cannot be seen separately from centuries of slavery and colonialism and the ideas that emerged in that context".
The Dutch government had announced that on July 1, 2023, a year of commemoration of slavery would begin, during which the country would "dedicate itself to reflecting on this painful history. And on the question of how this history today still has a negative impact on the lives of many people," the message said.
This aspect was brought to the fore earlier this month, when an independent investigation revealed a widespread culture of racism in the Netherlands' foreign ministry and its diplomatic missions around the world.
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