Rotterdam considering apologizing for slavery past
The Rotterdam office of mayor and aldermen is considering apologizing for the city's slavery past. "The office realizes that society needs quick answers. But if apologies are made, then this must be fully realized and the words must have weight and conscious consequences," the mayor and aldermen said in a letter to the Rotterdam city council, NOS reports.
Before apologies are made, the Rotterdam mayor and aldermen first want some questions answered. Such as what the financial and symbolic consequences of such an apology would be, and whether the apologies should be made "on behalf of the office, the city management including the council, the municipality, or all Rotterdammers". They mayor and aldermen will ask scientists and scholars to advise them on these questions
The Rotterdam mayor and aldermen also wonder whether apologies should be made together with Amsterdam or the national government. "We also call for a national investigation into the Dutch slavery history to be started and for a national slavery museum to be established."
This letter from the Rotterdam city management follows a study by the royal institute for language, land and ethnology KITLV, which was conducted on behalf of the municipality over the past two years. The researchers concluded that Rotterdam was "up to its ears" in slavery.
Two years ago, Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb also called on the government to apologize for the country's history of slavery. The government did not respond to that call, according to NOS. So far the closest the Dutch government came to an apology was former Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher expressing "deep regret and remorse". In a parliamentary debate on institutional racism in July last year, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the government will not apologize for slavery. "Apologies form a risk that society will further polarize" he said.
"Apologies" is a loaded term in the Netherlands, because it could also mean that the country could be held legally liable and may have to do reparations.