Member of Parliament Mr. Nikolaj Villumsen will visit the US Virgin Island March 30th to April 2nd to participate in the Centennial Commemoration. Mr. Villumsen has urged the Danish Prime Minister to apologize on behalf of the Danish State for decades of colonial rule and slavery, and for selling the islands without involving the local population or securing their civil rights.
Mr. Villumsen is an important voice in stressing the need of deepening the dialogue, and engage in cultural and historical exchange between Denmark and the US Virgin Island.
Quotes from Nikolaj Villumsen:
“It is urgent with an official Danish apology to the US Virgin Island. The Danish state must take on responsibility for the consequences of decades of colonial rule and slavery, and for selling the Islands without involving the citizens or securing their rights. It is important that we pay our sympathies to the descendants of the enslaved and shed light on this dark chapter of our history.”
“The US Virgin Island and Denmark are related. We share a tragic history. It is necessary that we strengthen the dialogue and engage in cultural and historical exchange to understand our history – and make sure that the atrocities of history are not repeated.”
“The Danish Prime Minister should put forward an official apology during his visit. An apology cannot stand alone, but has to be followed by actions. Therefore, I suggest that Denmark engage in initiatives that can help alleviate some of the problems caused by the sale and by 175 years of slavery.”
Nikolaj Villumsen is vice-chair in the Parliamentary Group, spokesperson on foreign affairs, defense and civil defense in Enhedslisten - the Red-Green Alliance, as well as member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council and vice-chairman of the group Unified European Left.
Background: Denmark had a colonial presence in the Caribbean for decades. 200 years of colonial rule and 175 years of slavery on the former Danish West Indies. Danish ships transported 120.000 slaves to the Caribbean, Europe and North America before prohibiting slavery in 1792. In 1917, Denmark sold the US Virgin Island to the US for US$ 25 million in
Proposed measures for increased dialogue and exchange with the USVI.
1. Exchange programs for USVI students at Danish universities
The USVI has the right to access to their own and our common history. The digitalization of the colonial archives has been an important first step, but Denmark should offer free exchange programs for USVI students in Danish and History to strengthen the linguistic, historical and physical access to the archives.
2. Invitation to the USVI to have an official representation in Denmark
Today Denmark has a consulate in the USVI, but the USVI has no representation in Denmark. The Danish government should invite the USVI to establish a representative office in Copenhagen. A mutual official presence is a good set off for strengthening the historical and cultural exchange.
3. Support for the establishment of a museum on colonial history or slavery (in Denmark)
Few Danes know that Danish ships transported 120,000 slaves from Guinea to the Caribian. Denmark's colonial history and responsibility for slavery is a dark chapter in Danish history. It is crucial with research, dissemination and public access to information on this part history.
4. Exchange programs in craft and construction work
Many historical buildings in the USVI are part of our shared history and important monuments of the brutal history of slavery. There has previously been a pilot project between vocational/carpentry schools in Denmark and the USVI authorities in relation to the preservation of buildings and training of carpenters, masons etc. The co-operation should be restored through exchange programs.
5. Diplomatic actions to help the USVI achieve full political rights
Through diplomacy, Denmark should try to help the USVI to achieve the same democratic rights as other citizens in the United States. Denmark has a responsibility for the fact that the USVI are still on the UN list of non self-governing territories.