Netherlands to again apologize for Easter Island slaughter in 1722
The Netherlands will again apologize for Dutch explorers' unprovoked killing of at least ten Easter Island residents in 1722. Researcher Jan Boersema will make this second apology at the Easter Island Conference in Leiden on Monday, Trouw reports.
In 1772, 134 crew members led by Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen visited the island. Roggeveen called the already-inhabited island Easter Island because “it was discovered and found by us on Easter Day.”
According to Boersma, an environmental and religious scientist and one of the organizers of the Easter Island Conference, the travel reports show that the Easter Islanders received the Dutch explorers warmly, offering the crew food and rest. Despite that friendly welcome, things went wrong. Some Dutch explorers panicked when they realized there were islanders “everywhere” around them, and a second mate ordered them to fire. Ten islanders were killed.
Roggeveen later disapproved of the violence, calling the second mate who ordered it a coward “because the islanders were unarmed,” Roggeveen said to the newspaper.
In 2005, Hinkinus Nijenhuis, then the Dutch ambassador to Chile, visited the island and talked about the shooting. After returning to Santiago, he wrote a letter describing the incident and apologizing for it. It is unknown how the Easter Islanders reacted to the letter. Boersma came across the letter while preparing for the conference.
As this year marks the 300th anniversary of the slaughter, and it is also the first time that the Easter Island Conference is happening in the Netherlands, Boersma decided to use his opening speech to translate Nijehuis’ letter and apologize once again. He will make the Netherlands’ apologies to the former governor of Easter Island, Tarita Rapu Alarcon, who will attend the conference.
“We will mark the moment, emphasize the apologies, and we want to move forward again,” Boersema told Trouw.