Van Bommel: ‘Time for the Netherlands to apologise for slavery in Surinam'

7 May 2008

Van Bommel: ‘Time for the Netherlands to apologise for slavery in Surinam'

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel is to ask Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende to offer his apologies to the Surinamese people for the Netherlands' history of slavery in the country. The SP's spokesman on foreign affairs is urging the Premier to use the occasion of his forthcoming visit to do this, 145 years after the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies. To date, no such apology has ever been officially offered to Surinam.

Harry van Bommel Prime Minister Balkenende, accompanied by Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, will visit the former colony on 13th and 14th May. “This is a unique chance fully to recognise that the Netherlands was wrong to impose slavery," Van Bommel urges. "Slavery is a crime against humanity. In the case of Surinam it was also a huge crime, with more than 300.000 people being brought there from Africa. The consequences of this can be felt to this day."

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, during a visit to Ghana, once a British colony, presented his apologies for the role played by his country in the slave trade. “Premier Balkenende should follow Tony Blair's example and formally express his apologies in the name of our country," says Van Bommel, adding that he would also like to see a thorough study conducted of this dark period and a historical account written. "This must then be translated into a form suitable for use in school history lessons so that our children can learn from history in an honest manner."

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