To the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and vice minister-president, Mrs Kajsa Ollongren,
To the Minister of Social Affairs Mr. Wouter Koolmees
The president and members of the Parliament of the Netherlands
The president and members of the Senate of the Netherlands
PO Box 20018
2500 EA The Hague, the Netherlands.
Bonaire, July 15, 2019
Subject: After 156 years of slavery-abolition-law Dutch cabinet officially recognize and regrets being accomplice but denies decolonization and right to self-determination to the descendants
We commend your cabinet’s recent historical declarations on July 1, 2019 in commemoration of July 1, 1863, 156 years after your government’s proclamation of the abolition law, finally a sign, a sprout, of compassion and humanity towards the descendants, the diaspora of our dehumanized ancestors, victims of your criminally inhuman economy.
The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Mrs. Ollongren stated “that the government cannot turn back time, but deeply regrets that slavery is part of our common history” and the Minister of Social Affairs Mr. Koolmees confessed: “..that is not only the stories about the past that hurt, but that today’s indifference can do that just as well”. These declarations have lit a flame of hope again in this deepest everlasting dark historical tunnel of Dutch unconsciousness about the racism part of their economy.
We all know that the abolition law of slave trade in 1814 and the1818 law that made participation a criminal offense led up to continued discussions in your parliament. For more than half a century, they debated not the humanitarian beliefs or feelings of shame about this form of commerce, but a defense of
the Dutch rationale of economic pragmatism, condemning slavery in theory, but allowing its continuation in practice up to 1863 and beyond. And up to now all your governments have kept yourselves and yours and our peoples in a state of cognitive dissonance through cultural, educational, legal, and colonial manipulation, denying the fact that your government was one of the cruelest colonizers in the world’s history.
In the light of the cabinet’s official recognition of the crimes against our ancestors and thus accepting the responsibility of being the continuation of your predecessors’ racist and economic crimes committed against us, the descendants of the victims, we would like to kindly request you the following:
As it took almost two (2) centuries for your government to recognize and regret that what you did to our ancestors was wrong, criminal and inhumane, we are afraid it may take a similar time-span, another two (2) centuries for your government to apologize, a natural logical human deed.
That as your government seems not to be in the state-of-mind to apologize due to the reasons mentioned above and we would not like to start a discussion with you on reparations as that is impossible in the current colonial occupation you hold us, we would like to ask you and your government that same simple question as your first chair of your first national assembly, during the Batavian constitutional debate, Pieter Paulus asked in 1796: “In which way all human beings can be considered equal?”.
Yes, the same question remains today 222 years later : “In which way – Are we, your so-called “Kingdom partners”, who were as recent as October 10, 2010, annexed, re-occupied, re-colonized, and embedded in your constitution under unequal rights against the our free will, – considered equal human beings?
We truly hope that the two honorable Ministers, same as Pieter Paulus was called “apostle of humanity”, they will be called the “apostles of decolonization” and not yet another modernized version of Piet Hein personified by colleague state-secretary and ex-military Mr. Knops who could be portraying Piet Hein, but now by terrorizing us all in the Caribbean with his WIC-VOC mentality and approach and who abuses his powers by unilateral legal actions with your approval.
We wholeheartedly feel that our wish to decolonize is not unrealistic and is as real as Mrs. Ollongren realization that time cannot be turned back as she declared. Born in the former Dutch colony Sumatra to Finnish-Swede parents, she possesses a diluted Dutch-ancestral-colonial DNA and her M.A. in history gives her all the possibilities to understand colonialism and its only cure: decolonization. A same miracle we expect from Mr. Koolmees with his doctor degree in social and institutional economics and as researcher at The Dutch Economic Institute he surely must understand that the mayor part of the riches and wealth which he and his government inherited and benefit today, was acquired through the colonial-slavery-criminal-economy tainted with the blood, sweats, and tears of our ancestors. No wonder he clearly admitted that the indifference today is as cruel and painful as the past, because as an expert he indeed knows.
Finally, we herewith kindly request you to cease being an accomplice to the continuation of Dutch colonialism, declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations and to follow up on your recent brave declarations. Our King Willem-Alexander, as a non-political symbol of Dutch colonial legacy, could lead the re-conciliation and healing process by apologizing with humanitarian compassion and not matter-of-factly based on Dutch economic rationale. In this process, we advise you to reevaluate the role and actions of Mr. Knops. The damage he has done so far to your carefully fabricated humanitarian philanthropic world image can hardly be undone other than through a genuine declaration of remorse followed by an immediate resignation.
To summarize all the above: if you indeed recognize that colonialism is a crime and regret that your government is participating in and supporting it, then please follow up and respect our Bonerian 2015 and Sint Eustatius 2014 referenda, expressions of the voice and free will of our people that legally and democratically rejected the imposed colonial structure. And please, comply with your UN Charter obligations and resume the decolonization process by respecting and restoring our inherited and acquired sacred and fundamental human rights of self-determination and self-governance.
We thank you for your attention and look forward to your compliance, as hope is all we need, that, “one day, we shall overcome”,
James Finies, president Foundation We Want Bonaire Back