Political Apologies

AHDA Political Apology

How does the act of apologizing enable societies to come to terms with their past?

Political apologies can be a powerful tool in the re-examination of a nation's history, and the significance this history has on democratic processes. The project includes a working list of political apologies throughout history that political scientist Graham Dodds has researched and compiled.

This is a working list of major political apologies and related events. The selection criteria for compiling the list are somewhat loose, but the intent is to include any and all apologies that involve states, nations, or major political groups and actors, generally for significant public wrongs. Thus, apologies by individual politicians for more narrow matters (e.g., alleged personal or criminal failings) are generally excluded.

Should you wish to add to the list, please e-mail ahda@columbia.edu.

Displaying 201 - 225 of 755
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
7 January 1999 U.S. Latin American Japanese World War II internees

 A U.S. federal judge approves a June, 1998 settlement between the U.S. government and Latin American Japanese World War II internees which will give then an official apology from President Clinton and reparations of $5,000 each.

WWII internees get 5,000 dollars, official apology.” Daily Yomiuri. January 9, 1999.
11 January 1999 Rouge leaders, apologize to the Cambodian people

Two former Khmer Rouge leaders, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, apologize to the Cambodian people for the nearly two million people killed from 1975 to 1979.

Spaeth, Anthony. “Apologies and Outrage.” Time International. January 11, 1999; Mydans, Seth. “Word to the Dead: We’ve Put the Past to Rest.” New York Times. May 21, 1999.
3 February 1999 USA Televangelist Antichrist is (or will be) Jewish

In the U.S., Rev. Jerry Falwell apologizes for having said that the Antichrist is (or will be) Jewish.

“Falwell Apologizes After Angering Jews.” Los Angeles Times. February 3, 1999.
5 March 1999 USA apologizes for deaths at Italian ski resort

 U.S. President Clinton apologizes for deaths at Italian ski resort caused by a U.S. jet striking a gondola cable. 

“The President’s news conference with Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema of Italy.” Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documentaries. March 8, 1999.
10 March 1999 U.S.expresses remorse for support of right-wing governments in Guatemala

U.S. President Bill Clinton expresses remorse for U.S. support of right-wing governments in Guatemala that killed at least tens of thousands of rebels and Mayan Indians.

Broder, John M. “Clinton Offers His Apologies to Guatemala.” New York Times. March 11, 1999.
14 March 1999 Guatemala atrocities committed during their 36-year civil war

Former Guatemala rebels apologize for atrocities committed during their 36-year civil war.

“Former Rebels Issue Apology in Guatemala.” New York Times. March 14, 1999.
10 May 1999 U.S.-China NATO’s bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade

U.S. President Bill Clinton apologizes for NATO’s bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, which killed three Chinese and journalists and injured 20 others.

Perlez, Jane. “Crisis in the Balkans.” New York Times. May 11, 1999.
11 May 1999 Ireland apologizes to survivors of child abuse in industrial and reform schools

The Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland apologizes to survivors of child abuse in industrial and reform schools.

http://www.rte.ie/news/1999/0511/1662-abuse/
12 May 1999 Germany-China NATO’s bombing of China’s Belgrade Embassy

 German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and expresses an unconditional apology for NATO’s bombing of China’s Belgrade Embassy

“Schroder Expresses Unconditional Apology for Attack on Chinese Embassy.” Xinhua News Agency. May 12, 1999.
16 June 1999 USA-bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade

U.S. State Department Under Secretary Thomas Pickering apologizes in Beijing for the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. 

“America Says Sorry, Again.” The Economist. June 19, 1999.
16 July 1999 Christians-Jews The crusades

 After a “Reconciliation Walk” across Europe, several hundred members of a Christian group apologize to religious leaders in Jerusalem for the mass killings of Muslims, Jews, and Byzantine Christians 900 years ago during the Crusades.

Sontag, Deborah. “Israel: Apology for Crusades.” New York Times. July 16, 1999; Dixon, Thomas. “Crusaders to Enter Israel.” Christianity Today. April 5, 1999.
28 July 1999 South Africa’s Natal Law Society,-barring Gandhi from practicing law

South Africa’s Natal Law Society, the equivalent of the bar association, apologizes “unconditionally” for barring Mohandas Gandhi from practicing law in 1894 because of his race.  David Randles, president of the Natal Law Society, made the apology to “all other aspirant lawyers whose access to the profession was restricted in any way on the basis of racial grounds.”

Daley, Suzanne. “For Gandhi (d. 1948), a Long Due Apology.” New York Times. July 29, 1999.
27 August 1999 Australia apologizes for past mistreatment of Aborigines

 Australian Prime Minister John Howard apologizes for past mistreatment of Aborigines.

“Australia Apologizes for Treatment of Aborigines.” New York Times. August 27, 1999.
31 August 1999 Japan upholds ruling rejecting demands from 369 South Koreans

The Tokyo High Court upholds a lower court’s ruling rejecting demands from 369 South Koreans for an official government apology and compensation.
 

“Japan: Koreans’ Plea Rejected.” New York Times. August 31, 1999.
3 September 1999 Denmark Forced displacement of Greenland Inuits from their home

Denmark Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen apologizes for the way his country forced Greenland Inuits from their homes in 1953 to make room for an expansion of a U.S. airbase.

Denmark: Apology to Inuits.” New York Times. September 3, 1999.
8 September 1999 New York Archbishop - Jewish friends

New York Archbishop John Cardinal O’Connor writes to his Jewish friends: “I ask this Yom Kippur that you understand my own abject sorrow for any member of the Catholic Church, high or low, including myself, who may have harmed you or your forbears in any way.”

NY Times. September 19, 1995. (Letter published by Victor Barnett, Elie Wiesel, and James Wolfensohn.)
13 September 1999 Libya American and European reparations to Africans for slavery

Libyan leader Col. Moammar Kadhafi says Americans and European powers should apologize and pay reparations to Africans for slavery.

“Kadhafi Calls for Reparations.” Africa News Service. September 13, 1999.
15 September 1999 Roman Catholic Church-“Duplessis Orphans”

Roman Catholic Church officials in Quebec announce that they will not apologize to aging “Duplessis Orphans” who suffered years of abuse while under the care of the church from the 1930s through the 1950s

“No Apology To Orphans, Quebec Church Says.” New York Times. September 16, 1999.
1 October 1999 South Korean demonstrators demand that the U.S. apologize

South Korean demonstrators demand that the U.S. apologize for American soldiers allegedly killing hundreds of civilians in 1950 at the start of the Korean War.

Sims, Calvin. “South Koreans Call on U.S. to Apologize For Killings.” New York Times. October 2, 1999.
4 October 1999 Israel- the suffering of the Palestinian people

 In an address to the Knesset, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak expresses sympathy and regret for the suffering of the Palestinian people but denies Israeli guilt or responsibility for the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“Barak Addresses Plenum.” Israel Line. Israeli Consulate, NY. October 5, 1999.
9 November 1999 The Britain-Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Attack

The British government apologizes to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe concerning a group of gay activists who attacked him in London to protest alleged human rights abuses in his country.

“Mugabe Gets Official Apology for British Gays’ Behaviour.” Africa News Service. November 10, 1999.
12 November 1999 Palestinian Authority apologize for statements

The Palestinian Authority apologizes for statements made by Suha Arafat in Ramallah during a meeting with U.S. first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in Ramallah in which Ms. Arafat accused Israel of poisoning the air and polluting the water

“Suha’s remarks prompt apology.” United Press International. November 15, 1999.
23 November 1999 USA- Kosovo Albanians to try to forgive Serbs

 In Kosovo, U.S. President Bill Clinton urges Kosovo Albanians to try to forgive Serbs for Slobodan Milosevic’s campaign of ethnic cleansing: “No one can force you to forgive what was done to you.  But you must try.
 

Lacey, Marc. “Clinton, Saluting Kosovo Albanians, Urges Forgiveness.” New York Times. November 23, 1999.
29 November 1999 USA apologizes to the family of the late Edward A. Carter Jr.

Gen. John Keane, the Army vice chief of staff, apologizes to the family of the late Edward A. Carter Jr., a World War II veteran, for secretly investigating him as a suspected communist and barring him from re-enlisting in 1949. The Army had determined the charges of disloyalty had no basis in fact, so the Army Board for Correction of Military Records corrected all of Carter's military records.  His family is to be presented with three posthumous awards for Carter's conduct and service in Germany during World War II.

Carter, Edward A., Jr. “Army Issues Official Apology to Wronged World War II Medal Of Honor Winner.” Jet. November 29, 1999.
10 December 1999 Switerland government -World War II,

The Swiss government reiterates a 1995 apology over wrong doings during World War II, but refuses to offer compensation to Jewish refugees who were turned back at the Swiss border at that time.

“Switzerland Repeats 1995 Apology Over Deeds During World War Two.” Xinhua News Agency. December 10, 1999.