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Dutch leader apologizes for Netherlands’ role in slavery

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, shakes hands with Marian Markelo, a Winti Priest, an Afro-Surinamese traditional religion, second right, after apologizing on behalf of his government for the Netherlands' historical role in slavery and the slave trade at the National Archives in The Hague on Dec. 19, 2022.
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized Monday on behalf of his government for the Netherlands’ historical role in slavery and the slave trade, despite calls for him to delay the long-awaited statement.

“Today I apologize,” Rutte said in a 20-minute speech that was greeted with silence by an invited audience at the National Archive.

Rutte went ahead with the apology even though some activist groups urged him to wait until next year’s July 1 anniversary of the country’s abolition of slavery. Some even went to court last week in a failed attempt to block the speech.

“We know there is no one good moment for everybody, no right words for everybody, no right place for everybody,” Rutte said.

He said the government would establish a fund for initiatives that would help tackle the legacy of slavery in the Netherlands and its former colonies.

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