Historians and anti-racist campaigners have called for European countries to recognise the slave trade as a crime against humanity and pay reparations.
Activists will send letters to European countries which benefited from the slave trade such as Britain, Portugal, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands, asking them to recognise the trade as a crime against humanity paving the way for reparations.
French historian Louis Sala-Molins and John Franklin from the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, will launch an appeal at the French Senate on May 10.
Karfa Diallo, chairman of the European Memorial Foundation for the Slave Trade told AFP news “There are several reasons for this, including its symbolic value, to restore the memory of this crime against humanity. There’s also a question, shall we say, of justice.” (AFP: May 4)
Diallo added, “Racism and discrimination persists in Europe. Young people of Caribbean and African ancestry are victims of it. And we know, historians have shown this, that racism was born in this story.”
While France passed a law in 2001 recognising slavery as a crime against humanity and declared May 10 as a national day of remembrance for the victims of slavery, other European countries, in particularly Britain continue to turn a blind eye to one of the worst, if not the worse racial holocaust in modern human history.
The 1990 Trust is an organisation set-up to protect the rights of black communities by engaging in policy and representing issues from a black perspective. It is led by figures such as Lee Jasper, Karen Chouhan and David Weaver and works in partnership with the National Assembly Against Racism and Operation Black Vote.
The organisation had a news service called BLINK and on 20 February 2004, Lester Holloway and Angela Saini said that the Labour government under Tony Blair at the time failed to organise a single event and hold a memorial day in remembrance of slavery as Blair had promised, they also responded to a letter sent by Blink News saying that slavery belonged in the past and the present government could not be held accountable for what happened.
London Mayoral advisor Lee Jasper resigned in 2001 from a government committee set-up to implement Blair’s promise of a memorial day for slavery because, he said government officials blocked progress.
When the United Nations marked 2004 as anti-slavery year, at the world conference the Labour government took the position that slavery was legal at the time and therefore not a crime against humanity, yet when Hitler murdered millions of Jews genocide was legal, and German corporations who were not part of the Nazi regime are still paying out compensation to Jewish survivors. It would be useful to note that Blair did recognise a Jewish memorial day on 27 January 2004.
Holloway and Saini also said that the UN anti-slavery year in 2004 received little to no coverage from the mainstream media.
While campaigners call for reparations it is arguably not practical at this time for this to take place. Western financial aid to Africa comes with conditions, conditions which further impoverishes Africans. (Read The Deadly Aid Industry) There is no guarantee that reparations will benefit all of Africans. Most likely it will benefit only African leaders or governments who are friendly to the West, which will not address or correct historical injustices.
The mainstream media and Labour government have made it clear that the Africa slave trade does not have any importance for them and considering that 400 years of African suffering which is approximately equal to 80 Jewish holocausts can be dismissed so flippantly; it indicates how black lives and suffering have no value in the eyes of the British government and the British media.
France has a long way to go before they reach racial equality but at least the French government recognised that slavery was a crime against humanity and went a step further by making May 10 a national day of remembrance for the victims of slavery. Shame on the British media and Labour.
For further research: