10 May 2014

Africa: Black Rights Groups Urge Banks to Pay for Slavery, Hollande Stays Stum

Some of France's top banking institutions and richest families are being asked to pay back thousands in compensation to victims of slavery.

French President François Hollande acknowledged France's role in the illicit trade but rejected calls for reparations. Paris marked the eighth edition of Remembrance Day on Saturday.

"It was the sweat of slaves that built the Bank of France, and it was the Bank of France that built France," declared Louis-Georges Tin, President of the Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN) on Saturday.

Speaking on May 10 - known as "Slavery Remembrance day" in France, Tin denounced the "crucial role" played by the banking industry in propping up slavery.

The CRAN didn't spare the Bank of France, Credit Suisse, Mallet and distinguished Bordelais families from scathing criticism, accusing them of profiteering off the backs of slaves.

The fresh criticisms come after a law-suit filed against state-owned bank Caisse des dépôts et de consignations (CDC), said to have reaped over 21 billion euros from slavery in its former colony Haiti between 1804 and 1946.

This time, the CRAN is calling for a public commission to study the possibility of handing out reparations to those affected by slavery, including African citizens. Up until now, it's had little success.

In a speech commemorating the day, President Francois Hollande acknowledged the state's role in endorsing slavery in the past, but made no comment about paying out cash reparations.

Instead he paid tribute to the memory of the "12 million victims, who were treated like objects and robbed of their destiny."

The CRAN nonetheless reiterated calls to the President to support land reforms in France's overseas territories to help the descendents of slavery. It's found a willing ear in the Justice minister Christiane Taubira and Overseas minister George Pau Langevin.

Langevin announced on Saturday that she would seize the committee for the remembrance of slavery about the possibility of reparations.

Copyright © 2014 Radio France Internationale. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.