25 August 2014

Africa: Transatlantic Slave Trade Has Deprived Africa of Its Lifeblood - President of UN Assembly

press release

The President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Mr John W. Ashe, has said that the Transatlantic Slave Trade (TAST) which dehumanized and enslaved approximately15 million men, women and children for 400 years deprived Africa of its lifeblood for centuries transforming the world forever.

He said this in a message issued in New York, last Friday, to mark the International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. The day is observed worldwide on August 23 each year and recognized by the world community in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action as a crime against humanity.

Millions more, Mr Ashe indicated were perhaps its unintended victims and that that inhuman trade was one of the greatest and most sustained tragedies in human history.

President of the UNGA paid tribute to the memory of the victims of the slave trade mostly anonymous heroes who fought tirelessly against injustice for freedom and to put an end to this immense human tragedy, "Their long struggle had contributed to our collective journey to ensure that human rights are truly universal, today their courage remains an inspiration for all of us, as we are called to uphold these human rights and fight against racism, modern slavery, and human trafficking."

This year's commemoration, Mr Ashe noted, was particularly significant because of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of UNESCO's Slave Route Project, an educational, cultural and historical program, which had contributed to breaking the silence surrounding the slave trade and to understanding how it had shaped our modern societies.

It also coincided with the launch of the 69th session of the General Assembly of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent. The annual commemoration is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to recall and reflect fully on the history of slavery.

Mr Ashe added that Understanding this historical legacy was critical to their efforts at addressing the scourges of racism and prejudice which still plagued us today.

In this vein the President of the General Assembly called on member states, civil society and all stakeholders to join forces to support the educational, cultural and scientific programmes designed to enhance public awareness on the lessons, history and legacy of slavery and help spread the universal promise of freedom, equality and dignity for all human beings.

"The sense of history is a beacon to illuminate the future, sharing and transmitting the history of slavery can be an antidote to racism and hatred, fostering reconciliation and a culture of peace," he noted.

Mr Ashe said that the spirit of struggle and remembrance was captured in the Ark of Return, the winning design for the permanent memorial and remembrance of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade that was unveiled at the UN headquarters September last year.

UNESCO, he said had designated 23 August as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition as a tribute to the slave uprising in Santo Domingo in August 1791.

Source: ISD (R. Harry Reynolds)

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