Members of Parliament mainly positive about Rutte's slavery speech
Various parties from the Tweede Kamer reacted positively to Prime Minister Mark Rutte's apologies on behalf of the government. "A historic moment," said D66 party leader Jan Paternotte. "And at the same time, this is just the beginning."
Pim van Strien, from Rutte’s own VVD, spoke of "a respectful speech by the prime minister about the pain inflicted on enslaved people by those in power at the time.”
From the National Archives in The Hague, Rutte apologized for the role of the Dutch State in the country’s ties to slavery in the past. According to Van Strien, that is "a starting point.” His party wants to "weigh these words more carefully" and debate the plans. The largest party has previously opposed financial reparations.
Not everyone was positive about the government's gesture. "I apologize for Prime Minister Rutte's apologies," Geert Wilders said on Twitter. He leads the far-right PVV, the largest opposition party in the Tweede Kamer.
The SP called the apologies justified and said it "hopes that the commemoration year is a starting point for knowing and memorializing this horrific history together.”
CDA party chair Pieter Heerma said that "an annual commemoration" can keep awareness about the dark pages in the past alive. With the apology "a new chapter begins in the dialogue with the descendants who have had to bear this burden of the past alone for so long," he responded.
The ChristenUnie thinks that the process towards apologies should have been "more careful." Party leader Gert-Jan Segers hopes that the apology will be the beginning of reconciliation. "For that, the full truth must first be laid out on the table and be acknowledged. Forgiveness and reconciliation can then be the result." He also spoke of a "much longer process" that will follow.
Attje Kuiken (PvdA) considered the prime minister's words an important starting point for recognition and recovery.
Finally there are apologies, Laurens Dassen of Volt tweeted. "The Netherlands must now commit itself to recovery. Real recovery, where we listen to those for whom apologies have been made."
Pro-diversity party BIJ1, led by Sylvana Simons, considered the speech a "historic moment" that generations of people have fought to achieve. However, the party said it is still critical about what will happen next. "A process like this requires a leading voice from the people who are directly affected. Without the equal involvement of these groups and the lack of follow-up steps, apologies will remain an empty shell."
"A historic day,” said party leader Christine Teunissen of PvdD. The fact that the Cabinet is "finally" apologizing should be given meaning as far as it is concerned. "The question is still, how are we going to fight racism today?"
Reporting by ANP