Victims describe harrowing tales of racial abuse

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- A group of victims of racism on Saturday began relating harrowing accounts of the ordeals they have been through.
Twenty-two people have been brought together from countries such as India, Guatemala and South Africa by the Human Rights Law Group and, over the next week, they will describe their experiences under the Voices Special Forum, a part of the World Conference Against Racism which kicked off in Durban on Friday.
Gay McDougall, a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said the word "victims" is no longer used, and these individuals are now known as "voices".
The speakers focused on various issues including reparations for slavery, the slave trade and colonisation, education, globalisation and economic development, discrimination against ethnic minorities and the situation in the Middle East.
"Listening is a form of empowerment.
Listening to the testimony of those who have suffered racism and discrimination is vital to our understanding of these scourges and to the search for more effective ways to combat them.
"It is one thing to be aware of how widespread racism is, quite another to place ourselves in the position of those who suffer abuse and discrimination on a daily basis.
"These stories need to be heard.
But it is not enough to listen and sympathise.
The voices of victims are calls to action - to greater effort on behalf of those on the receiving end of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.
"That is the only way we can prove that we are serious about shaping a world where such abuses of human rights are eliminated forever," said Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the secretary-general of the UN-sponsored World Conference against Racism.

02 سبتمبر 2001 10:20:00

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