Amsterdam apologises for colonial slavery

The Mayor of Amsterdam officially apologised for the city's role in the colonial slave trade on Thursday - which marked the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies on 1 July 1863. The Netherlands was a major colonial power, particularly during the 17th century. A commission appointed by the government has recommended that the state as a whole apologise. Commentators see this as the very least the country should do.

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AD (NL) /

Lacking awareness

In her column in AD, Linda Akkermans voices frustration with the dithering in Dutch politics:

“Go for it, Rutte. After all, no well-meaning person with even a little historical awareness can be against this. But it is precisely this awareness that is lacking. In my school, for example, we were never taught about this topic. They talked about the Dutch East India Company and the prosperity that slavery brought to our country. But there was not a single lesson in which the extent to which the past still impacts the present was discussed.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Joint commemoration

The four biggest cities in the Netherlands have called for the abolition of colonial slavery in 1863 to be commemorated with a public holiday. NRC Handelsblad agrees with the idea:

“The slave trade didn't just concern Amsterdam or Rotterdam - the whole country was involved in it. And across the country today's generation is also aware of it. ... This is also about pledging enduring solidarity with [the former colonies of] Suriname, the Antilles and Indonesia. ... On King's Day and Liberation Day, the unity of the Dutch is celebrated. ... The abolition of slavery is therefore an extremely fitting occasion for a third public holiday.”