Dutch King Apologised For Slavery

King Willem-Alexander laid his own wreath

King Willem-Alexander laid his own wreath Credit: Koninklijkhuis Netherlands

A MOVING ceremony took place in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam on July 1 when King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands formally apologised for the country’s role in the slave trade.

It was a recent as July 1, 1863 that the slave trade was officially banned in The Netherlands and the king accepted that the wealth of the nation was effectively founded on the blood, sweat and toil of slaves from the Caribbean, Africa and Indonesia.

This admission had been anticipated for some time, ever since a similar apology was given by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte last December and follows other apologies from Dutch mayors and even the Dutch Central Bank admitted that it was founded on income from the slave trade.

During his speech King Willem-Alexander quoted a Dutch legal statement made in 1644 which said ‘Within the city of Amsterdam and its jurisdiction, all men are free, and none are slaves’ but he acknowledged that this had not held true as far as foreign slaves were concerned.

He went on to state quite unequivocally “To view a fellow human being as a commodity, to do with as you please. To use them for profit, as a beast of burden, with no will of their own. To be chained, traded, branded, worked to the bone, punished. Or even killed with impunity.

“Recently, the Queen and I have had many conversations with people in the European Netherlands and in the islands of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.

“We’ve met people with Surinamese roots, and people with ties to Indonesia. Among them are people who only have to go back three generations to find family members born into slavery.

“And they made very clear just how deep the wounds remain.”

Recent research has revealed that that more than 600,000 people were transported across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa aboard Dutch ships, to be sold as slaves or put to work on plantations.

An estimated 75,000 did not survive the crossing and this is almost a drop in the ocean compared to the extensive slave trade to the East, in areas controlled by the Dutch East India Company.

Memorials to those who were enslaved, or mistreated when the Dutch created different colonies are now being unveiled in major cities around the country.

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing newsdesk@euroweeklynews.com, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page www.facebook.com/EuroWeeklyNews