Guyana wants more than an apology – Pres. Ali notes in push for int’l reparations
President Irfaan Ali has told the international community that Guyana expects compensation for the crime of slavery, noting that the reparations must go beyond a simple apology.
The statement from the Guyanese Head of State came as the country joined in adopting the political proclamation and reaffirmed its commitment to the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, a rejection of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Dr Ali participated in a high-level meeting to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration under the theme: ‘reparations, racial justice and equality for people of African descent.’
While addressing the meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, Dr Ali said Guyana welcomes the inclusion of reparations in the theme of the meeting.
The abolition of slavery was a defining moment in the country’s history, he said.
“Guyana is committed to gaining international reparations for the crime of African enslavement. Reparative justice must not only include a full and unconditional apology from those responsible and/or who benefitted from the transatlantic trade in captive Africans and their consequent enslavement but must go beyond apology,” Dr Ali said.
In this regard, Guyana will continue to support the efforts being made within the Caribbean Community to press for the convening of an international summit to demand reparative justice for the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, African enslavement, and its enduring effects.
“I am proud to belong to a country that honours and celebrates its ethnic diversity. Our people seamlessly participate in each other’s religious and cultural festivals and traditions. In many ways, we can be a wonderful example to the world,” he said.
Unfortunately, he noted, too often in the political arena, ethnic insecurities and race are used opportunistically to manipulate issues in a manner that promotes tensions and racial feelings.
To this end, he noted that his government will continue to work assiduously to eradicate all forms of racism and racial discrimination and to ensure inclusive development with equal access and sharing in Guyana’s wealth.
The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action is a comprehensive, action-oriented document that proposed concrete measures to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
It emphasizes that equality and non-discrimination are not only fundamental principles of international human rights and international humanitarian law but are at the root of political, social and economic development.