Guyanese, in silent protest, demand more than apology from descendants of former slave owner

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Descendants of John Gladstone, the former absentee owner of slave plantations in Guyana’s Demerara County, were greeted by placard bearing citizens on their arrival at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Thursday night.

The Gladstones are here to help fund a new research centre at the University of Guyana (UG) in addition to offering an apology for their ancestors’ involvement in the slave trade.

But Guyanese are demanding more than that.

“Pay up now”, “the apology is a start” and “reparations now” were just a few quotes from the placards held by the locals who engaged in a silent protest.

The placards also referred to the Gladstones as “murderers” as it highlighted the role they played in slavery.

The apology is to be delivered Friday morning during an engagement at the University of Guyana.

Earlier on Thursday, President Dr. Irfaan Ali welcomed the descendants of John Gladstone and their intention to offer an apology, but the Head of State also does not believe an apology is enough.

He has restated his call for compensation, reparative justice, and for those involved to be posthumously charged for the crimes against humanity.

“The apology is implicitly an acknowledgement of the cruel nature of African enslavement and indentureship in Guyana and an act of contrition that paves the way for justice,” Dr. Ali said in an address to the nation broadcast live from his Georgetown office.

Dr. Ali recalled his Emancipation Day message where he called on those who were complicit in and who profited from the trade in captive Africans and African enslavement to offer just reparations.

“I, therefore, propose that the intended apology include issues of compensation, reparative justice, and those involved to be posthumously charged for crimes against humanity,” Dr. Ali said.

As Dr. Ali recounted, John Gladstone’s interests and acquisitions included plantations at Belmonte, Covenden, Hampton Court, Industry, Meten-Meer-Zorg, Success, Vreed-en-Hoop, Vreedenstein and Wales.

In recent years, the demands for reparations for African enslavement and indentureship have intensified.

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