Vlissingen to apologize for its role in slavery on Keti Koti

The city council of Vlissingen will apologize for the municipality’s role in the slavery past on July 1 this year. A proposal from the ChristenUnie and GroenLinks, among others, was approved with 14 votes in favor and 12 against.

The municipality will also apologize for the “insufficient and one-sided attention to the slavery past in recent decades and, as a result, for the insufficient understanding of enslaved people’s feelings and descendants.” The city council asked the office of the mayor and aldermen to express the apologies “in public” on behalf of the municipal council.

The city council wants the apologies made on July 1, the day the Netherlands commemorates its history of slavery and celebrates its abolishment. It is known as Keti Koti, which means “broken chains” in Sranan Tongo, a language spoken in Suriname. Keti Koti is already a national holiday in Suriname, and there’s been a push to make it one in the Netherlands for years.

With the trading cities of Middleburg, Veere, and Vlissingen, the province of Zeeland played an important role in the trade of enslaved people. On 1 July 1863, the Netherlands abolished slavery by law. However, all enslaved people in the Netherlands and its colonies were only free in practice ten years later.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized on behalf of the Dutch government for the country’s history of slavery on December 19. Speaking at the National Archives in The Hague, he said the apologies are “for the past actions of the Dutch State: to enslaved people in the past, everywhere in the world, who suffered as a consequence of those actions, as well as to their daughters and sons, and to all their descendants, up to the present day.”

Reporting by ANP and NL Times

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