Let me firstly commend Vision media for your vision to carry a report on the findings from a UN Working Group which has called for Reconciliation/Reparations …
The findings which have seen the need for declaring slavery as a crime against humanity is particularly instructive and most enlightening. To have shackled humans, many of whom who died in the Middle Passage in the hulls of ships, was a serious human rights abuse and by extension an egregious crime against humanity. Reports are that some slaves were thrown alive overboard when resources like water and food were running short on these slave ships.
Access to medical services for slaves was woefully inadequate … records gleaned reveal that many of this human cargo was not attended to adequately by Slave Ship handlers when slaves fell ill. This was a human rights disaster to say the least. Definitively crimes against humanity were perpetrated … in a systematic fashion if not institutionalised.
Haitians were forced to pay reparations when they unshackled themselves from their colonizers France … as a result of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804). This revolution finally led to their Independence from France. France punished Haitians who dared to want to unshackle themselves. The ex-slaves as stated before were severely punished and made even poorer by their heartless French colonizers who demanded reparation from them.
It is ironic that it is a French woman who is now seeking reparations for African-American descendants of slavery.
In Jamaica and the Caribbean, a Reparation Commission has been set up to seek compensation for the atrocities of slavery. Professor Verene Shepherd, a Jamaican … chairs the Reparation Commission. PM David Cameron has rejected a call for Britain to step up to the plate and pay. Instead he is offering a prison to send back criminals to Jamaica W. I. after addressing the Joint Houses of Parliament in a recent visit.
There was strong opposition to Cameron’s offer of a prison.
See poem entitled “Peace” published in Vision.
Recent all White Oscar Awards Plan makes this reconciliation relevant at this time. This is an idea whose time has come.
Never again should our people be enslaved. UN Working Group is on the right track to right a wrong which is long overdue. We wish them well and hope good sense will right an egregious wrong. Amen!
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior International Correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.