VideoMayor Femke Halsema has apologized on behalf of the Amsterdam City Council for the role capital has played in the past in slavery. He did this during the national commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Osterpark, Amsterdam.
“On behalf of the municipal administration, I apologize for the active involvement of the Amsterdam City Council in the business system of colonial slavery and in the global trade of the enslaved population,” Halsema said.
In his speech, the mayor said, “Even an Amsterdam living now is not the cause of that past.” The mayor explained that the city council is ready to take responsibility for this because it is ‘in unbroken line with the administration of its predecessors’.
“With those rulers and mayors, whose actions we hate.” According to Halsema, it is time to brick the great injustice of colonial slavery into the identity of our city. With generous and unconditional consent ‘.
The first municipality
Amsterdam is the first municipality in our country to issue a formal apology. Utrecht, The Hague and Rotterdam are also considering doing this. The British cities of London, Liverpool and Chicago and Charleston in the United States preceded Amsterdam. Halsema’s apology was received with applause and applause.
Two years ago, the City Council approved an initiative that would require the slave to apologize on behalf of Amsterdam for the past. This was followed by an investigation by the International Society for Social History. The most important conclusion is that the administration of Amsterdam is directly, globally, on a large scale, involved in the diversity and long-standing involvement in the slave trade and slavery.
“This history has left a legacy in our city,” Halsema said in her speech. That legacy lies in the historic canal belt and the city’s artistic richness as ‘magnificent and visible’. “Very little is known – and has long been ignored – then exploitation and today’s inequality,” the mayor said.
Earlier in the afternoon, an advisory committee handed over A statement to the outgoing minister Interior Gazza Olongren. It states that slavery and the slave trade, of which the Dutch were criminals until 1863, should be recognized as a crime against humanity by the Netherlands and apologized for.
Linda Noitmeier, president of the National Dutch Slave History and Heritage Institute (Ninci), believes Amsterdam’s recognition of its slave past is a precursor to national forgiveness. “This is what is coming,” he said after the national commemoration of the abolition of slavery.
In his speech at the memorial, he advocated for a community that could be ‘truly free’. “Only if we listen carefully to each other, can we come to a new perspective on our shared past. A new story, in which everyone really has a place, with which we continue to build an equal society.”
Activist Jerry Afri, the leader of Kick Out Sword Fiat, says Amsterdam’s apology is an important signal. “This is a moment you hope will come. When it comes, did it really happen?” He called it a ‘statement of confidence’, a precursor to the ‘full recognition of the Dutch state’, he said after the national commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Amsterdam’s Osterpark. “If you look at what role Amsterdam has played in history, it’s definitely unavoidable.”
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“These suggestions are important and cannot be misunderstood,” Olongkren said during the recall. “We can’t get around it.” ‘We need to face our past,’ he called. At the same time, he stressed the importance of combating racism and discrimination in our time. “We still have a long way to go.”
According to the minister, we can only look at the past of slavery with ‘horror, sadness and shame’. He ended his speech with a plea to ‘stand side by side, not vice versa’.
The call to apologize is long overdue. Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte pointed out last year that he did not realize it. He said this would not help the public debate now, but rather lead to polarization. In 2013, the Dutch government expressed ‘deep sorrow and regret’ about the past of the Dutch slave. In 2001, the then cabinet expressed deep regret, but did not apologize.
‘There is almost no chance for claims after a past pardon for slavery’
Amsterdam has ‘almost no chance’ of being held financially responsible after apologizing for a past of slavery. That’s what Waterloo Ward, a professor of legal philosophy at Free University (VU) in Amsterdam, says. “Because injustice happened a long time ago. You cannot legally prove that a person is currently experiencing concrete damage as a direct result of the past of his ancestors. “The professor knows that similar cases have not been won anywhere else in the world.
According to Verard, forgiveness is a formal way of acknowledging that injustice has occurred in the past. “It has more status than forgiveness or remorse. It’s primarily a way of showing empathy. It shows that you feel suffering, but you do not formally acknowledge it.”
According to the professor, apologizing implies that one no longer intends to manipulate one’s own history in a different way. “Something is changing in the official self-image so that you do not trivialize injustice from the colonial past and stop thinking about it.”
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