photo: House of Representatives

The Hague – Will we get a subsidy, or not? The organizer of the national slavery commemoration lives with this uncertainty every year. The House of Representatives wants to ensure that they receive a yearly subsidy from now on.

The volunteers who make the commemoration possible will ‘finally be able to take a breath’, according the parliamentarian who put forth the motion, Nevin Özütok (Groenlinks). A majority of the House agrees that the uncertainty wasn’t ‘desirable’ for a ‘commemoration of national importance’.

The NiNsee foundation, which organizes the commemoration in Amsterdam, has to contact two ministries and a foundation on a yearly basis to re-apply for a subsidy. The House has now directed the Cabinet to investigate if this process can be expedited.

NiNsee describes this as a ‘step in the right direction’. “The way things are set up now is very tiring. That’s not the way to go about an important moment in history. We are very happy with this initiative.”

VVD, PVV, SGP, and Forum voor Democratie all voted against the motion. It’s a feel good motion, whose language ‘isn’t right’, according to VVD Representative André Bosman.

“The financing has to happen in a careful manner”, emphasizes Bosman. “Which one of the many commemorations is this motion referring to? There are commemorations in Middelburg and Tilburg too. As the House of Representatives it’s unwise to say: oh we’ll arrange it.”

Earlier this year, it was announced that the number of slavery commemorations in the Netherlands is growing.

Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Kajsa Ollongren (D66) has a positive view when it comes to the motion. The government will have until May 1st to investigate how the subsidy for the national slavery commemoration can be handled more efficiently.

Bank holiday
Özütok (GroenLinks) thinks that politicians should pay more attention to the Netherland’s past as a slave trading country. That’s why last September during Prince’s Day she wore a creole headscarf as a statement.

Her political party would like to take it one step further. “We would like to see a bank holiday established to commemorate the abolition of slavery. That’s our heart’s desire”, says Özütok. But a majority to support such an idea can’t be found in the House. Groenlinks and Denk are the only parties who would support such a motion.

‘National commemoration?’
According to NiNsee there’s still a lot of work to be done. Deputy-director Urwin Vyent reminds us that the commemoration still isn’t a ‘national’ one. “The commemoration hasn’t legally been declared a ‘national’ one yet. This while the Government of the Netherlands and the Royal Household both do call it that.”