By Amadi Ajamu
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
While in New York attending the United National General Assembly of Heads of State, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines came to Harlem to join the New York City-based December 12th Movement International Secretariat on Sept. 24 in their report back to our community on the CARICOM First Regional Reparations Conference, held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines Sept. 14-17.
At the forum, held at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, Gonsalves stated, “As to where we are with the reparations issue and where we are going to, for 30, 40 or more years in the Caribbean, we have had discussions among scholars, small groups of persons in the Caribbean and in the Diaspora on the issue of reparations. It has reached center stage now with the decision of the 14 member states of the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] to establish a Caribbean Reparations Commission to spearhead the work for reparations from Britain in the form of the former British colonies, France in relation to Haiti and the Netherlands as regards to Surinam.
“We first took the decision in early July at the [CARICOM] Summit in Trinidad. My chairmanship runs through the 30th of June, although I am on the Bureau of the Heads of Government Conference until the 31st of December next year. I’m hoping that we could get letters off during my chairmanship to the European governments so that we can commence in earnest the conversation, the discussion, the demand, the claim for reparations,” he continued.
“If those discussions do not prove to be satisfactory, it is our intention to approach the international code of justice in the Hague to make the legal demand within one or more of the international conventions which form the body of international law, but more particularly, the international convention to end racial discrimination, in which the issue of the legacy of native genocide and slavery is addressed,” said Gonsalves, “and the consequences thereof with those who have been responsible and have an obligation to repair the legacy which constitutes consequences of native genocide and African slavery.”
In conclusion, Gonsalves stated, “This is, in a nutshell, what this is all about. Shun off all the adornments, because on this matter, we have to keep our focus very clear, very sharp, and we have to be united and prepared to work. The case for reparations is unanswerably strong.”
State Sen. Bill Perkins and City Councilman Charles Barron presented a special proclamation to Gonsalves for his extraordinary work on international humanitarian economic and social justice, and reparations.
The December 12th Movement delegation to the CARICOM Reparations Regional Conference included Roger Wareham Esq., Omowale Clay, Kamau Brown and Jamal Johnson. Clay gave an overview of the history of the reparations movement in the United States, culminating in the historic United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban South Africa in 2001, which declared the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism a crime against humanity; the Millions for Reparations March in Washington, D.C., in 2002; and the subsequent lawsuits against U.S. government and corporations.
“This important first CARICOM Regional Reparations Conference has revitalized our reparations work internationally. We must intensify our work, develop our strategy and tactics, and mobilize our people.” said Clay He ended with their reparations slogan, “They stole us. They sold us. They owe us!”
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