Utrecht apologizes for past ties to slavery
On Wednesday morning, Mayor Shanon Dijksma of Utrecht apologized on behalf of the office of mayor and aldermen for the city government's share in slavery. Although Utrecht never had large colonial institutions, it is still closely linked to Dutch slavery history, research commissioned by the municipality showed.
As an extra gesture, descendants of enslaved people can change their surname. Last year, the city council submitted a motion to make this surname change simpler and cheaper. The government is currently legally investigating this possibility, but the municipality of Utrecht is already taking a step forward.
This year, Utrecht pays attention to "the painful page in Utrecht history" in various ways. "Recognition of this chapter means that we can draw lessons for the future. Moreover, we show the descendants of victims that we do not forget our history but rather start a conversation about the slavery past and its consequences. Let this be an example for the government to apologize on a national level because this is broader than just Utrecht," said Dijksma during a meeting in the Janskerk.
Reporting by ANP.