The Guyana Reparations Committee on Friday launched its leg of the International Youth Reparations Relay and Rally with an event at the Guyana Independence Park. Speakers at the launch included President of Guyana H. E. David Granger and Chairman, Guyana Reparations Committee, Mr. Eric Phillips.
In his keynote address, President Granger said the call for Reparations was serious business and not a side show. He said the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was one of the greatest un-natural disasters of all time and a crime against humanity.
“There was a crime but there was no punishment. There was a crime but there was no justice” the President said.
He said the people of the Region are looking to their leaders to bring about redress for their ancestors and it was with this in mind that the CARICOM Heads of Government accepted a draft Regional Strategic Operational Plan for reparations at their Twenty-Fifth Intercessional Meeting in 2014.
“The Caribbean Community has taken a firm and irreversible stand in the call for reparations” said President Granger.
He explained that the plan was not about money but was a holistic plan that was carefully thought out so that Caribbean children can have a better deal in the future. He said the Caribbean was not begging for handouts, sympathy or favours but was demanding reparatory justice for the greatest crime against humanity in the world.
Chairman of the Guyana Reparations Commission Eric Phillips, in his remarks gave a brief report on the work of the Guyana Reparations Committee, which he said has completed its reparations claim which will be presented to Guyana’s Attorney General for a resolution to be passed in Parliament. He said the Guyana Reparations Committee believes in social cohesion which must be built on justice and economic inclusion.
“We seek reparations and social inclusion because we believe in the immortal declaration that all men are created equal” he said.
Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission Sir Hillary Beckles was represented by Member of the Guyana Reparations Committee Mr. Johnathan Adams who brought remarks on his behalf. Sir Hilary in his message said it was fitting that the reparations relay in Guyana was being held just days before the country celebrates its fiftieth anniversary of independence from British colonial rule. He said the valiant and timely struggle for reparations for the descendants of slaves and indentured labourers in Guyana and across the Region could be viewed as the next stage in the Region’s quest to consolidate its independence and sovereignty.
“Strengthening our nations’ independence and struggling for reparatory justice are inextricably bound to each other. Our struggle for reparatory justice is part and parcel to strengthen regional integration” Sir Hillary said.
The international Reparations Relay and Rally series is being hosted by the CARICOM Reparations Commission in collaboration with the CARICOM Members States which have committed to being part of the reparations movement. The Commission said it recognized that youth engagement was significant in the Reparations dialogue. The rallies are being held on days of historical significance in relation to slavery, the slave trade or native genocide in each Member State. A baton and torch are passed from the current Member State to the next one which will host the rally. The first leg was hosted by Barbados in April.