Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands) and Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten are officially no longer colonies of the Netherlands since 1954, and have not been mentioned as such in official government documents since 1975. Nevertheless, the relationship between the Netherlands and the overseas islands of the Kingdom still has a colonial character. After all, the Dutch state has enriched itself through colonial relations, and politics (from left to right) has done little to change this relationship so far.
BIJ1 argues for an end to the unequal relationship between the governments and residents of the islands and those of the Netherlands. BIJ1 stands for control and right of self-determination for inhabitants: the Netherlands does not decide,but people on the islands themselves. BIJ1 fights against the structures that limit the islands to make their own decisions and is in favour of a new relationship between the Netherlands and the islands. The new relationship must be based on anti-colonialism and on repairing colonial damage. In order to achieve this, we propose the following policy changes.
RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND AUTONOMY
- St. Eustatius, Bonaire and Saba are freed from the grip of political and ministerial The Hague. The local population decides on the islands again, not the undemocratically elected officials of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. No policy is devised for the islands by people who do not come from or live there themselves.
- The National Council of Ministers, which comprises seventeen Dutch ministers and only three plenipotentiary ministers from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, is abolished. This unfair representation is replaced by a new structure for Kingdom-wide consultations. For each Kingdom-wide dossier, the interested ministers of all countries meet for consultation and have an equal voice.
- There will be apologies for colonial exploitation and exploitation, the slave trade and slavery and the subsequent period of unequal income, governance and treatment. These apologies are linked to the abolition of the infrastructure that continues colonialism and white superiority thinking in the policy of the Dutch state towards the Kingdom and the rest of the world.
- All the countries within the Kingdom retain their internal autonomy to shape their societies. The Netherlands will no longer dictate from Europe how the islands should be governed.
- In the event of mutual disputes within the Kingdom, a disputes committee will be set up in which independent expertise from the Caribbean, South America and Europe will be included on an equal scale. Dutch civil servants or former government officials will no longer be regarded as independent of the Dutch state.
- Autonomy within the overseas countries of the Kingdom is being further developed and developed by giving parliaments the right to put forward bills for state laws that concern them.
REPAIRING THE DAMAGE
- There will be a parliamentary inquiry into the extent of the self-enrichment of the Netherlands at the expense of the islands during the colonial period. The conclusions of this survey will be part of education packages at all levels of education.
- The people on the islands themselves determine the definition of ‘reparations’ and ‘justice’ for what has been done to them over the centuries. This means that ‘reparations’, as mentioned, could also mean something other than money.
- The Dutch state will pay compensation to the islands for lost income through financial policy constructions dating from before 1954.
- The Netherlands will pay compensation for the ecological destruction of the areas through colonial exploitation.
EQUIVALENCE IN EDUCATION
- The Netherlands pays reparations for the disadvantaged development of the education systems on the islands. In the development of education, the islands are given room to include Caribbean and South American perspectives on education. The Netherlands is no longer the obvious anchor point for the education systems on these islands.
- Academic knowledge exchange within the Kingdom is stimulated.
- The free movement of persons within the Kingdom is maintained. Students who come from the islands for their secondary education in the Netherlands receive structural support from the municipalities where they are going to live. Once in the Netherlands, it is our duty to take care of every student.
- Like Dutch students, future students will not have to take out a loan to study in the Netherlands or on the islands. No students will start their career with a debt.