The Netherlands is expected to apologise for slavery, with a speech on Monday by the prime minister and ministerial visits to the Caribbean and Suriname.
But the date chosen and the way the announcement has been organised has prompted criticism, so what Mark Rutte is planning to say is not yet clear.
Critics complain of insufficient consultation and claim the way it has been pushed through by the Dutch cabinet has a “colonial feel”.
Six Suriname foundations sought a court injunction to push the apology back to 1 July 2023, which would mark the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Act, although it took another decade before slavery was actually phased out in the Dutch colonies.
“If there’s an apology, it should be on the first of July, when they removed our shackles,” says DJ Etienne Wix,” says DJ Etienne Wix, whose community radio station mArt was among the groups seeking a different date.
Along with a formal apology, the Dutch government is expected to allocate €200m (£175m) to awareness projects and pledge to spend €27m on a slavery museum.
More than 600,000 people from Africa and Asia were trafficked by Dutch merchants between the 17th and 19th Centuries.
During the 17th Century, the Netherlands was one of the most prosperous trading nations in the world, in a period known as the “Golden Age” that saw huge advancements in science and culture.
Huge wealth was generated through state-mandated enslavement and exploitation.
Enslaved men, women and children were forced to work on sugar, coffee and tobacco plantations, in mines and as household slaves in the “New World”, colonised land in the Americas and Caribbean. They were subjected to extreme physical, mental and sexual violence.
In the western province of Holland alone, a Dutch Research Council study found 40% of economic growth between 1738 and 1780 could be attributed to slavery.
In his speech, at the National Archives in The Hague, Mr Rutte will respond to a government-commissioned 2021 report, Shackles of the Past.
It recommended the Netherlands recognise the legacy of slavery as a crime against humanity, promote a more critical, nuanced view of the Golden Age, and take steps to deal with the institutional racism and ideas which arose in this context of colonialism.
The prime minister has pushed ahead with what he described as a “meaningful moment”, indicating the need to capitalise on current political support for an apology, and to allow 2023 to be a commemorative year with funds allocated to special initiatives. (BBC)