People of the Caribbean are demanding reparations from European colonial powers for the slave trade that ruined the lives of millions of people from Africa. Will they get anything from the Europeans? While monetary compensation may not be forthcoming, the issue has put spotlight on one of the most egregious crimes perpetrated in human history.
Washington DC, Crescent-online
Thursday March 21, 2014, 16:14 DST
Caribbean countries have hired a British law firm and authorized a 10-point plan that would seek a full apology and debt cancellation from former colonizers such as Britain, France and the Netherlands. The decision was made earlier this month by representatives from various Caribbean nations at a summit in St. Vincent. The plan is dubbed a “Reparatory Justice Framework.”
The plan states in part: “Over 10 million Africans were stolen from their homes and forcefully transported to the Caribbean as the enslaved chattel and property of Europeans. The transatlantic slave trade is the largest forced migration in human history and has no parallel in terms of man’s inhumanity to man. This trade in enchained bodies was a highly successful commercial business for the nations of Europe.”
“A Repatriation program must be established and all available channels of international law and diplomacy used to resettle those persons who wish to return. A resettlement program should address such matters as citizenship and deploy available best practices in respect of community re-integration.”
The story of slavery is one of the most heinous chapters in European history. The toll that this took on inhabitants of the African continent is unprecedented. “For over 400 years Africans and their descendants were classified in law as non-human, chattel, property, and real estate. They were denied recognition as members of the human family by laws derived from the parliaments and palaces of Europe and subjected to the ideology of racism that denigrated all things African. This history has inflicted massive psychological trauma upon African descendant populations.”
The representatives of European nations have yet to publish a response to this document although commentaries in some British newspapers—the Guardian of London for instance (March 16) have appeared. Penned by people of Caribbean origin living in Britain, they have made a case for reparations.
It is doubtful, however, whether the Caribbean people will see any reparations to the injustices that the islands have suffered under the slave trade and the system of plantations run by slave labor.