Amsterdam hosts national slavery abolition commemoration today

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The Netherlands' annual national commemoration of the abolition of slavery will be held in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam on Thursday night. Friday is the 153rd anniversary of the Dutch government abolishing slavery in Suriname and the former Netherlands Antilles.

The commemoration will be held at the National Slavery Monument and starts at 7:00 p.m., according to Het Parool. It will include a flag ceremony, two minutes of silence, the laying of wreaths and several speeches. The speech givers include author Astrid Roemer, Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan and Minister Jet Bussemaker of Education, Culture and Science.

This is the first year that the commemoration is being held on June 30th. In previous year the commemoration was on July 1st, just before the so-called Keti Koti Festival which celebrates the abolition of slavery.

The national institute for Dutch slavery history NinSee, which organizes the commemoration, decided to split the commemoration and celebration. This decision was not well received by everyone. "It's like proposing that Remembrance Day is held on May 3rd", Barryl Biekman, president of the National Platform for Slavery History, said to Het Parool.