The media engagement comes in the wake of recent public statements of “apology” and “regret” by some European states and a number of British commercial enterprises for their role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and in the 200-plus years practice of chattel slavery.
“Unfortunately, one cannot go back and remake https://t.co/i5IoaCgoo3 the history but you can make atonement: it is not enough to make your apology as a public spectacle, it is not enough to present it as public relations exercise." Prof. Hilary Beckles— Caribbean Community (CARICOM) (@CARICOMorg) June 19, 2020
Participating in the media event will be the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados; the Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Jamaica; Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies; and Prof. Verene Shepherd, Director, Centre for Reparations Research, The University of the West Indies.
“While we reject so-called ‘statements of regret’ as inappropriate and insulting, we accept official ‘statements of apology’ as calls to dialogue in respect of reparatory action. The distinction is known by all, within the context of reparations, and so, once again, we call on the former slave-holding, colonising states of Europe to work with us to address the urgent need for repairing the lasting damages of slavery on our societies. Europe owes our people a debt and now is the time for that debt to be paid,” said Prof. Beckles.
Over the past several weeks, the world has witnessed massive protests against systemic racism and racial violence which began with the Black Lives Matter Movement in the USA and has spread to dozens of countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Symbols and monuments of white supremacists have been torn down in several European capitals and protestors have demanded restitution for the crimes of slavery and the ongoing racial oppression of non-white minorities in European countries.
Since 2013, the CARICOM Reparations Commission has been actively pursuing reparations for Native Genocide and African Enslavement, from the former colonising nations of Europe, namely the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
The Caribbean Community maintains that there is an unpaid and outstanding debt for over 200 years of free labour, that fueled two industrial revolutions and a quantum leap in development in Europe, while simultaneously under-developing the nations of the Caribbean and relegating the majority of its Indigenous people and those of African descent to persistent, inter-generational poverty.
CARICOM is again issuing a strong call to Europe to acknowledge its sordid past, to engage with governments in the region and to implement appropriate forms of redress.
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