KOMPAS.com - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday is due to give a speech in which he is widely expected to formally apologize for his country's historical role in slavery and its consequences into the present day.
The move would mark a U-turn for the Dutch prime minister, who had previously refused to deliver the apology, arguing that it would start a "polarizing" debate in the Netherlands.
Rutte will speak in The Hague, while other Dutch ministers are traveling to seven former colonies in South America and the Caribbean for this event.
The ministers headed to Suriname, Bonaire, Sint Maarten, Aruba, Curacao, Saba, and St. Eustatius to "discuss the Cabinet response and its significance on location with those present" after Rutte's speech, the government said.
Criticism of apology
Some groups and affected countries have criticized the move, saying they were not consulted by the Netherlands about this.
Caribbean nation Sint Maarten's Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs told Dutch media on Saturday that the island would not accept a Dutch apology if made. "Let me be clear that we won't accept an apology until our advisory committee has discussed it and we as a country discussed it," she said.
The Dutch empire in the 16th and 17th centuries shipped around 600,000 Africans as part of their slave trade, mostly to the Caribbean and South America.
The United Provinces, now known as the Netherlands, had colonies in Suriname, the island of Curacao, South Africa, and Indonesia during the height of its power. It was the third-largest colonial power.
Slavery was formally abolished in 1863, but the practice ended in 1873 after a transition period of 10 years.
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