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Dutch slavery commemoration ceremony starts with mixed emotions

Dutch slavery commemoration ceremony starts with mixed emotions
Dutch slavery commemoration ceremony starts with mixed emotions

On Tuesday, it was the 151st celebration of the abolishment of slavery in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. During the celebration a group of Afro-Dutch demonstrators unexpectedly took to the stage, where Dutch Vice President Lodewijk Asscher was scheduled to give a speech.

The Dutch slavery commemoration ceremony, is better known as Keti Koti and started Tuesday morning with a march from the Amsterdam city hall to the Oosterpark. Event organizers explained that a small aspect of the march had been changed, a group of approximately 10 marchers would be portrayed as actual slaves from the former Dutch colonies. Keti Koti is seen as a festival that celebrates freedom, but not all members of the Afro-Dutch community see it this way.

Some feel that they are seen as second class citizens. They believe that their voices aren't being heard within the Dutch society. This can also be found back in the hard statistics surrounding Dutch minority groups level of education, youth unemployment rates, racial profiling by the police and harsher prison sentences for individuals from different ethnic groups.

The Dutch slavery files

In 2001, during the U.N. conference against racism, the U.N. publicly stated that slavery was and is a crime against humanity. Till this day, the Dutch government has not issued an official apology for its role within the Trans Atlantic slave trade. Its as if the Dutch government is scared too openly take responsibility. They believe that if they apology openly, they will be held financial accountable by the African Diaspora in the Netherlands. Reparations carries a financial obligation, but this is a small aspect of the bigger picture. Organizers explained that in order for the healing process to take place, the guilty party must admit fault and express remorse. Reparations isn't about receiving a financial handout, its about changing the mindsets of a people.

Demonstration during Oosterpark speech

After arriving in the Oosterpark, Dutch Vice President Lodewijk Asscher was scheduled to give a speech. Before Asscher was able to begin his speech, around 20 individuals approached the stage and obtained the audience attention with a mega-phone. Kno´Ledge Ceaser, Kunta Rincho, Patrick Mathurin and Darryl Danchelo (also known as Insanyo) were some of the notable demonstrators taking part. Danchelo then continued by using the mega-phone to give his own speech. ``Today we are here to stop Vice President Lodewijk Asscher and the Dutch government from disrespecting our ancestors with empty words. Especially not on the day that we are supposed to be remembering their pain and struggles. Only a weak people would allow this type of humiliation. We are not weak,´´ said Danchelo.

Dutch Vice President Lodewijk Asscher

Asscher didn´t seem to be shocked by Danchelo´s statements, at times he looked upon the demonstrators with amazement. ´´We must act decisively until the Netherlands takes the duty upon itself to dedicated just as much attention on our traumatic history as it dedicates towards other traumatic history,´´ said Danchelo. Asscher has been quoted for his statements denouncing racism and discrimination within the Dutch society. But, the demonstrators only hear his words and are still waiting on him to take physical action. Asscher explained that pushing through legislation that would allow for a so-called ´´racism law´´ wouldn´t be effective. He believes that be aware of the past is the only solution. Seeing that the Dutch schools don´t teach anything about the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, it is unclear how Asscher is expecting to achieve this goal. Asscher did admit that the Netherlands role in the Trans-Atlantic ´´slave trade is a black page in our history books´´.