Trans-Atlantic solidarity in favour of reparations

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- The world conference against racism and discrimination Tuesday staged a trans-Atlantic solidarity rally in favour of reparations for the prejudices endured for centuries by black communities and those of African origin.
While Monday night saw African-American NGO's express their bitterness at the US withdrawal from the conference, the fifth day of the conference kicked off with slogans demanding "solemn apologies" and "fair reparations" throughout the International Exchange Centre of Durban.
Such "link-up" between African participants and delegates of the black Diaspora, will surely be symbolic of the immaterial results of the Durban Conference, said observers present in Durban.
The Africans and their Diaspora brethren, who separately prepared for the Durban Conference in such remote and distinct regional groups, came to progressively realise how much their claims pointed in the same direction.
The concerns of the black Diaspora in the Americas were widely integrated by the delegations of Costa Rica, Jamaica, Guyana, Belize and Barbados.
They have had a noticeable impact on the arguments related to the reparations, and proposed new initiatives in that direction.
Elayne White, vice foreign minister of Costa Rica, invited the Durban conference to draw its inspiration from the declaration of Santiago (Chile) adopted by South American states "so as to come up with reconciliation after a solemn recognition of the past wrongs".
If these South American countries succeeded in it, such attitude is surely within the reach of everybody and Durban should fit into the same framework, said White.
She added that the Durban talks would therefore better focus on the reparations in order to guarantee that such crimes against humanity would never ever be perpetrated again.
The Declaration of Santiago, said White, courageously condemned "the brutal crimes and the injustices committed against the indigenous people and their descendants, and against all the communities which have suffered from the throes of slavery, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and any other forms of servitude".
For White, after such compulsory repentance, the international community could, after the Durban Conference, encourage "the setting up of a working group, including the UN institutions, to look into reparations, and at a larger scale, all the issues related to racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance".
Besides, she said, Costa Rica wished that Durban recommend "the creation of a UN cyber centre likely to help establish a network of individuals, as well as education and institution centres meant to promote inter-cultural exchanges".
Hilary Beckles, the head of the Barbados delegation, proposed, in line with the same preventive concern, the setting up of "a research and education fund" whose mission will be to create institutions likely to take care of the sensitising activities and carry out high scale scientific research.
Singh, who is leading a Guyanese delegation, tied up with what the Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade said, in proposing as a form of indemnities and reparations, the creation of "a special fund for regional development which would deal with the structural needs of the populations of the Caribbean Sea".

04 september 2001 23:48:00

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