– calls for greater support from youths
Chairman of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) Reparations Commission, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has
called on the region’s youths to lend greater support in the pursuit of reparations for slavery and native genocide. The Commission’s chairperson has also expressed intent to mount a region-wide rally with the view of garnering support for the cause.
At the close of the Second Regional Conference on Reparations held in Antigua last week, Beckles stated that, “We are going to organize, with the support of all of these national commissions, a regional rally in which we will move the reparations banner from the northern Caribbean, through to the centre, to the south, all the way through to Brazil.”
Professor Beckles, a renowned historian and also Principal of the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), said the event would engage the talents of artists, musicians and the youth. Beckles was reported as saying that the idea is to bring about regional and global attention to the matter.
Earlier in the year, the Reparations Committee chairman had urged young people in the region to ensure that they make a meaningful contribution to the debate on reparation. Speaking to youths in Jamaica at the time, he told them that “the subject (reparations) is going forward and we are going to have justice only when young people step up and play their role.”
The report on the Professor’s speech explained that international law provides that chattel slavery as a practice was a crime against humanity. He told the students that no other race on the planet endured the kind of slavery that was imposed on the African people, and informed that slavery was invested in by the royal family, the Government, the established church, most elite families, and large public institutions in the private and public sectors.
He related that the Region’s youth has a significant part to play in the reparations movement. “There are many people in the world who believe that all they have to do is sit quietly and allow the older leaders of this campaign to pass away.” He had told the students that,” You are the descendants of those who survived and that should give you, the younger generation, a special responsibility to honour this history,”
He posited that for the reparation movement in the Caribbean to be successful, those involved must be organised and that they must have pride and dignity in self. “No matter how long it takes, we are not giving up. Weak people and weak nations do not get reparations. All the cases of reparation in the last 100 years have been won by people and governments who are determined, organised, committed, and by people who have pride and self-esteem,” he argued.
At last week’s conference, Jamaican Youth and Culture Minister, Lisa Hannah also called for more youth involvement in the reparations movement. She asserted that youths between the ages of 16 and 24 make up a quarter of the world’s population and they can play a key role in advancing the cause.
She told the attendees that, “The things that are a priority to them (youths) now are career advancement, career development, and certainly employment and so to get the reparations agenda on their schedule is something that this group is going to have to recognize… unless you get the youth carrying your message, it’s not going to be carried.”
She doubted that many young people understand the generation of psychological resentment that they also carry. “Even some of our men, some of our women with the kinds of things that they do in terms of health, in terms of how we process education, in terms of how we see ourselves are psychologically affected,” she stated.
Photo in Wednesday as chairman
Caption: Professor Hilary Beckles
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