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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Dutch Queen unveils slavery memorial
Dutch Antilles
Campaign groups want a Caribbean apology

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has led thousands of people in a ceremony to unveil a national monument to the victims of slavery.

It was a solemn ceremony that the descendants of slaves have been waiting for for decades.

France has recognised slavery as a crime against humanity.

Queen Beatrix
Queen Beatrix unveiled the monument
The Netherlands is not about to go that far, but it is taking steps to ensure the nation's slave-trading past has a place in the history books.

At a major international conference on racism, held in Durban last year, the Dutch Government expressed deep remorse over slavery.

Dutch Integration Minister Roger van Boxtel called on other countries to do the same and set up an international knowledge network on slave history.

Like Britain and France, the government here has been careful to avoid the touchy issue of financial reparation for the descendants of slaves.

Apology demanded

But the National Committee on Slavery is demanding a formal apology from the Queen, and wants a collective form of compensation.

It says the Netherlands should make a more generous contribution to the social and economic development of its Caribbean dependencies and the former colony of Surinam; and the only way to finally lay the ghosts of the slave ships to rest, says the committee, is with the royal apology.

The committee wants the government to make the ultimate gesture and send the Queen to the Dutch Caribbean and Surinam to say sorry in the name of the Netherlands.

See also:

03 Sep 01 | Europe
03 Sep 01 | Africa
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