The Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind emphasizes that the first step has been taken with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s apology. Now the Netherlands, Suriname and the islands must jointly put their shoulders to the wheel. Weerwind, who was born of Surinamese parents, followed the speech live in Royal Ballroom Torarica together with guests invited by the Dutch embassy. He especially heard from the people afterwards ‘finally’.
Later in the day, Weerwind meets President Chan Santokhi. The minister is here on a working visit at the invitation of his colleague from Justice and Police, Kenneth Amoksi. But he spent a lot of time yesterday listening to the speech and talking to guests about the slavery past. Initially, Amoksi said he was unaware that Weerwind’s visit had anything to do with the slavery past. This was also not apparent from the planned program. Weerwind expects that during the conversation with the president, the offering of apologies by the Dutch prime minister will be discussed. He is curious about the president’s reaction.
The further steps towards 1 July 2023 must be taken in good dialogue, Weerwind emphasizes. We must build a good future together. Apologies have been made to the country, the islands and all descendants of the enslaved from Africa. Although Rutte did not discuss the position of the Indigenous people, who were the first people to be enslaved in Suriname, this group is mentioned in the cabinet statement that was sent to the House of Representatives, according to Weerwind.
There will be a joint work agenda for the future. The first step has now been taken, where a comma has been placed. Offering the apologies has not put an end to the slavery past. The joint future will now be discussed. Weerwind says he has received mainly positive reactions to the prime minister’s speech. It was a historic moment and now we are building the future together.