On Sunday, the Foundation for the Overseas Suriname Collective held an assembly focused on education community members on how to successfully start a reparations claim procedure against the Netherlands. The Netherlands was involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonized what is now known as the Republic of Suriname. Ernest Grep, informed the attendees that they have received a formal request from the CARICOM reparations committee. The committee was started as an initiative of Suriname President Dési Bouterse and includes representatives of 14-different countries.
Grep explained during the opening of the assembly that the CARICOM reparations committee was calling on the help of all members of the Surinamese Diaspora in the Netherlands. “Our family, the African Diaspora is spread all across the world. We are preparing to enter a new phase of international pressure,” said Biekman. Five Afro-Dutch organizations have come together to mobilize the Surinamese Diaspora, in the Netherlands.
The complexity of reparations
Biekman believes that it is essential to get the youth involved, which will be achieved by educating them about the true meaning of reparations. By education the people, reparations will no longer be seen as a taboo subject. British reparations advocate Esther Stanford-Xosei, was also invited to help educate the audience members on the complexities of reparations. Stanford-Xosei is an internationally recognized specialist in jurisprudence, making her an expert in the science and philosophy of law.
It was made clear by Stanford-Xosei that the financial aspect of reparations, is only 1% of the bigger picture. Humanitarian aid that has been pumped into the Suriname economy, hasn’t improved the countries economical condition. The root of the problems that Suriname is dealing with, cannot be solved by only placing financial obligations on the Netherlands. “Reparation is not a financial obligation. It is recognizing your faults, restoration, renewal and the rebuilding of a sustainable community,” said Stanford-Xosei.
Suriname economist Armand Zunder, is the chairman of the Surinamese Committee Reparations Slavery’ Past and explained the catastrophic effects of the colonial business model. The Dutch saw the Republic of Suriname as a business venture. They constructed a system that allowed for them to take all of the countries natural resources without it having an effect on the Dutch bottom line. The objective was to take advantage of the free labor within the Dutch colonies, keep the colonies under developed and use the profits to invest in Dutch industry.
Last year, Zunder delivered a demand for slavery reparations to the Dutch embassy in Suriname.
African & Hindu Diaspora in the Netherlands
Zunder explained that the Suriname government has determined that Indo-Surinamese, also known as “Hindoestanen”, fall under the reparations claim being made against the Netherlands. The government has determined that once the Hindoestanen arrived in the Dutch colony, they were subjected to similar harsh treatment as what the slaves were subjected too. Suriname has a total population of approximately 550,000 people. Around 180,000 Hindoestanen live in Suriname, the Netherlands has an estimated population of 145,000 Hindostanen. The Surinamese Diaspora in the Netherlands has a total population of approximately 510,000 people.