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Simons (BIJ) accuses the government of maintaining an unequal relationship in the Kingdom

Eng Simons Bij Accuses The Government Of Maintaining An Unequal Relationship In The Kingdom 1

Once again, Sylvana Simons (BIJ1) was the only faction leader who paid attention to Kingdom relations in her input during the general political considerations in the House of Representatives. An unequal relationship in which the Netherlands on the one hand holds the reins and on the other hand Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Statia, Saba and Bonaire are left in a still subordinate position. 

The Dutch government must really stop accepting that the standard of living in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom is drastically and disastrously lower than in the Netherlands,” said Simons.

400 years of colonialism and slavery have ensured that dire living standards for black people do not create the same sense of urgency as they do for white people. You can apologize for that, but my question is: where is the recovery?” Simons, who left politics after the elections, advocated, among other things, a ‘Consensus Kingdom Recovery Measures Act’.

The Minister of Finance quoted the philosopher Hannah Arendt when presenting the Budget Memorandum. She said, “The freedom to be free is determined by freedom from poverty and freedom from fear.” A beautiful quote; the words touch the heart of what BIJ1 stands for: freedom to be free from poverty and fear. But under the neoliberal policies of this cabinet and its predecessors, people are actually more trapped in poverty and fear. What neoliberal politics has done is to implement destructive policies for years based on dehumanization, distrust and profiteering. It is an age-old legacy of two systems that make our society unequal and our planet unliveable. Those two systems are capitalism and colonialism. We all suffer from that. I’m going to try to explain that one more time today.

Exactly two years ago I stood here during the General Political Reflections to talk about my great-grandmother’s history of slavery. I dare to say with pride that this has contributed to the apologies of the Dutch State and the king for the history of slavery. This shows that “nothing about us without us” is more than a choice and more than a slogan. It is the key to change. It’s the importance of representation. We owe this historic victory to the years of struggle by enslaved people and their descendants. To all those who came before us, I would like to say here today: grantangi, masha danki, thank you, thank you.

The apology brought recognition for my great-grandmother, but for my granddaughter it is only just beginning. It was said: “There is no period behind the history of slavery, but a comma.” And it was said, “We will take steps after that comma.” But unfortunately the excuses made have not yet led to remedial measures, which, as far as BIJ1 is concerned, are even more important than the excuses themselves. The words lose their meaning if they are not reinforced with concrete measures that improve the lives of descendants of enslaved people and other people who suffered under Dutch colonialism.

Chair. “After the comma” begins now, and yet we see nothing of it. That makes sense, because how can you heal from a past that is still being maintained? It is not a black page, but a whole book, which is still being written today. How can we heal from systems that still govern our daily lives? How can we heal from the pain of the past if the colonial way of thinking still lives on in society and government? We see the excesses of it every day, also here in this house. How can we heal if the image persists that people from former colonies and other people of color are unreliable, ungrateful, lazy or inhuman, if you can say about them what you cannot say about others, and if the image persists that making a profit at the expense of human lives is still okay? How can you heal when policies are based on distrust, in people of color, in Muslims or in people with low incomes, and when this manifests itself in a benefits scandal and the widespread use of ethnic profiling? How can we heal when people of color, low-income people, people with disabilities, and people from queer communities are exploited and dehumanized? How can we heal when their lives are systematically subordinated to the pursuit of profit?

Excuses for ripping people away from their homes become meaningless when housing remains a commodity and people don’t even have a safe roof over their heads. Apologies for kidnapping people for 400 years become worthless if you continue to push the descendants of enslaved people into illegality, for example by refusing to give undocumented Surinamese who have been at home here for decades their residence permit.

If, on the one hand, you apologize for more than 400 years of forced migration, but on the other hand you maintain the EU fortress, conclude deadly migration deals, finance illegal pushbacks, allow border violence and organize terrible asylum seekers’ centers, my question is: what do those excuses really mean? If on the one hand you apologize for more than 400 years of brutal violence and abuse, but on the other hand you give racist police officers the exclusive right to use violence, and peaceful demonstrators are not safe, as we see with Extinction Rebellion and anti-Black Pete demonstrations, my question is: what do they mean? apologies then? You cannot apologize for centuries of locking up children and breaking up families and at the same time pursue policies that turn the youth care sector into a gold mine for private equity firms, leaving defenseless young people with violence and incarceration instead of love and care. That also makes excuses worthless. And if on the one hand you apologize for 400 years of exploitation and destruction of the land in the former colonies and the global South, but on the other hand you continue to plunder and disrupt the exact same places for raw materials, our green transition and economic profits, what does an apology mean?

I hope it is clear that I am talking about hypocrisy here. That seems like today’s word. It is the hypocrisy of beautiful words like freedom, freedom from poverty and fear, of “sorry for what we did”, but in the meantime we are plunging this country into damnation with the same rapid speed. Healing is not possible without recovery. “After the comma” is now, and BIJ1 has proposals for how we can achieve recovery and healing.

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