According to reports, the Dutch government intends to apologize for its historical involvement in the slave trade and establish a fund for initiatives that seek to increase public understanding of the legacy of slavery.
According to those familiar with the situation, the fund will be revealed after the country formally apologizes for its involvement in slavery at the end of this year or the beginning of next. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, estimated its size at up to 200 million euros ($204 million). Office of the Prime Minister declined to respond.
In Europe, where former colonial countries have been urged to address their participation in the slave trade in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the decision is rare. The Netherlands would be among the first nations on the continent to set aside money as an apology for slavery, even though states like Germany and the UK have already paid for forcefully quelling uprisings in Namibia and Kenya, respectively.
There has been considerable activity outside of Europe to rectify the economic legacy of imperialism and slavery through reparations.
While Australia and New Zealand recently agreed to pay millions to make up for the harm caused by settlers to Indigenous people, Canada has agreed to a C$40 billion deal to compensate First Nation children for being torn from their family. In the meantime, legislation in the US has been adopted to establish a commission to look into potential reparations for slave descendants.
Due to the presence of the Dutch East India Company in Suriname, Brazil, the Caribbean, South Africa, and Asia, the Netherlands was a major contributor to transatlantic slavery. The mayor of Amsterdam issued a formal apology for the city’s involvement in slavery last year. This year, the Dutch Central Bank and state-run institution ABN Amro Bank NV did the same.
According to ABN, Hope & Co., a predecessor, was extensively involved in the day-to-day operations of plantations. Mees en Zoonen, a different forerunner, arranged insurance for slave ships and shipments of goods made possible by forced labor.
Klaas Knot, the president of the Dutch Central Bank and a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, apologized to the descendants of slaves and launched a fund to sponsor initiatives totaling 5 million euros over the next 10 years in the Netherlands, Suriname, and the Caribbean. The National Research Center on the History of Slavery is among the projects the bank stated it will support with an additional 5 million euros in one-time funding.
The history of slavery in Suriname will be covered during the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte’s visit this week. Regarding the Dutch participation in slavery, Rutte told reporters on Friday that “a significant moment is to be expected later this year.”
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