The Catshuis’ consultations about past slavery have begun, and the committees refuse to apologize for appointments
In Kachois in The Hague, consultations began between members of the Cabinet, organizations and representatives of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom and Suriname. They talk about past slavery. According to leaked plans, the government wants to apologize for slavery within a week and a half, but stakeholders think the apologies are hasty and there is also a debate about the date.
The Cabinet intends that Prime Minister Rutte will apologize on December 19 in the Netherlands on behalf of the country and that other ministers will apologize in Suriname and the Caribbean Islands.
In a letter, the slavery commissions of the Netherlands, Suriname, Curaçao and Aruba called on the cabinet to issue an apology on July 1 next year. Then it is celebrated exactly 150 years ago that slavery really ceased to exist, in 1873. Organizations oppose December 19th because that day has no special significance.
There is also criticism from interest groups that in Suriname apologies are made by Minister Werwind (legal protection) and not by Rutte or the King.
Criticisms from Suriname
Before the meeting, the Chairman of the Surinamese National Slavery Commemoration Committee, Chairman of the Surinamese National Committee for the Remembrance of Slavery, reiterated that December 19 was scheduled as the date. He said he did not know on what basis that moment was. According to him, the date was chosen “completely arbitrarily.” “There may be motives or reasons on the part of the government for choosing December 19, but we don’t know at all.”
Next year is a festive year and Roozer finds it incomprehensible that apologies are made before then. He was offended by the cabinet, he said: “You suppose it will be done in a manner satisfactory to both parties, but that is not the case with us at all.”
There is no clear group photo
Mercedes Zandwijken, founder of the Keti Koti Table Foundation, is also critical of the government’s approach. She said she hoped the organizations could convince Prime Minister Rutte that December 19 should be the beginning of a dialogue. “It is typical, when making excuses, to agree with each other what those excuses should be. If you don’t have a clear common picture, you can sometimes make the wrong excuse completely.”
Curaçaoan writer and actor Roland Kolastika said he entered the conversation on a positive note: “We’re going to talk about the future.” When asked if December 19th was acceptable as a date, he replied, “It should have happened July 1st, 1863, so December 19th is fine with me.” But he stressed that the apologies should be the beginning of a new era.
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