Netherlands: King orders investigation into colonial period – 12/06/2022 – World

The King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, ordered this Tuesday (6) the opening of an independent investigation into the role of the monarchy during the colonial period. The process will be conducted by historians and human rights specialists with the aim, according to the monarch, of understanding the developments and impacts of historical facts on people’s lives and communities.

“Deep knowledge of the past is essential for us to understand events as clearly and honestly as possible,” said the king. The investigation, which should last approximately three years and will not have a punitive nature, will seek to clarify events from the end of the 16th century to the present day.

The Dutch played an important role in the global trade in enslaved people during the 17th to 19th centuries. The Dutch West India Company, formed by merchants from the country, operated ships that trafficked around 600,000 people in all, according to data from the Dutch State.

Enslaved people were forced to work under harsh and inhumane conditions on plantations in the Dutch overseas colonies in the Caribbean and South America.

According to the Reuters news agency, there are plans for the Dutch government to officially apologize later this month for its role during the country’s colonizing past. The State should also allocate around €200 million (R$1.1 billion) to a fund that promotes awareness of crimes and abuses committed in the period, in addition to €27 million (R$148.5 million) for the opening of a museum about the slavery period.

The Dutch king’s announcement on Tuesday comes in response to an advisory panel’s recommendation that the monarch recognize that the transatlantic trade in enslaved people in the 17th to 19th centuries amounted to crimes against humanity.

In January, King Willem-Alexander announced that he would no longer use the royal golden carriage. The vehicle, adopted by monarchs since 1901, has on its side a panel with the image of black men kneeling before their white masters. The historic relic was at the center of a debate about images of colonization and racism in Dutch society.

Also earlier this year, the country’s Central Bank released a statement in which it apologized for its role in the colonial period. The institution pledged to finance projects to raise awareness about slavery and mitigate the “effects that the forced labor regime still has on people”.

Another Dutch bank that has tried to recant its role in the past is ABN Amro. The institution apologized for the involvement of its legal predecessors in the slave trade, forced labor on plantations and the trade in products originating from slavery.

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