PVV’s Martin Bosma urged not to attend slavery commemoration

The monument to slavery in Amsterdam's Oosterpark. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The monument to slavery in Amsterdam's Oosterpark. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Some 35 organisations and more than 150 private individuals have signed a petition calling on parliamentary chairman Martin Bosma not to attend the annual slavery remembrance ceremony in Amsterdam on July 1.

Traditionally, the leaders of both houses of parliament attend the ceremony, but Bosma, as a member of the far-right PVV, is not welcome, the organisers say.

Now a number of prominent black Dutch men and women have signed a petition  urging parliament to rethink. They point out that Bosma has for 20 years promoted an “explicit racist ideology” with “white supremacy at its core”.

In addition, Bosma has regularly criticised the remembrance ceremonies and last year was highly criticial of the cabinet and king’s formal apology for the Dutch role in slave trading.

The PVV manifesto for the November general election also included a pledge to retract the official apology for slavery.

“Martin Bosma’s presence would be a slap in the face to everyone for whom this day has intense meaning,” the petition says. If Bosma would lay a wreath at the monument, it would “remove every shred of authenticity from the honour that the deed symbolises”.

Organising committee chairwoman Linda Nooitmeer has also written to Bosma himself asking him to withdraw but he told parliament on Monday: “I have been invited and I am going.”

The bottom line is that this is not about the parliamentary chairman, Nooitmeer said. “This is about the ancestors and the respect they deserve on July 1.”

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema said last month that she understood the issues but that she did not agree with the campaigners.

“It is of great importance that the most important political organ in the country is represented,” she told the city council. “You should not make it political. This time round it is this chairman, next time it will be someone else.”

Broken chains

Keti Koti – which means “the chains are broken” in the Surinamese language Sranantongo – has been commemorated every year in Amsterdam on July 1 since the national memorial to slavery was put up in the park in 2002.

Slavery was finally abolished in the former colonies of Suriname and the Dutch Antilles on July 1, 1863.

Slavery and the Netherlands: what you need to know

However, slaves in Suriname were only fully freed in 1873, since the law stipulated that there was to be a mandatory 10-year transition period. Owners were also paid compensation of 300 guilders for every enslaved person they released.

At its height in the 1770s, slavery generated over 10% of the gross domestic product of Holland, the richest of the seven Dutch provinces which made up the republic, according to social history researchers.

The income from the tobacco trade, sugar processing and shipbuilding was boosted by the use of slave labour used to grow crops on plantations, according to researchers at the International Institute for Social History.

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Categories: Dutch News
Anton Nieuwenhuizen

Written by:Anton Nieuwenhuizen All posts by the author

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