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Dutch King Says Slavery Apology Start of ‘Long Journey’

Dutch King Willem-Alexander praised the government’s apology for the Netherlands’ role in 250 years of slavery in his Christmas speech on Sunday, saying it was “the start of a long journey”.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte formally apologized earlier for the Dutch state’s involvement in slavery in its former colonies, calling it a “crime against humanity”.

Dutch king

“Today nobody bears responsibility for the inhumane acts inflicted on the lives of men, women, and children,” said Willem-Alexander von Huis ten Bosch in The Hague.

“But by honestly confronting our shared past and recognizing the crime against humanity that is slavery, we are laying the groundwork for a future together – a future in which we stand against all modern forms of discrimination, exploitation and injustice,” he said. “The government’s apology is the start of a long journey,” he added.

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The Netherlands financed the “Golden Age” of empire and culture in the 16th and 17th centuries, sending around 600,000 Africans in the slave trade, mainly to South America and the Caribbean.

The Dutch government says several major commemorative events will take place starting next year and has announced a $212 million fund for social initiatives.

Dutch King Says Slavery Apology Start of 'Long Journey'

Willem-Alexander promised that the royal family will remain interested and “involved” in the theme in the commemorative year.

But Rutte’s action goes against the wishes of some slavery memorials, who wanted the apology to be issued on July 1, 2023.

Some former Dutch colonies demanded reparations for slavery and criticized the government for failing to take concrete action.

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