Reparation conference described as a success
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Sept 18, CMC –Noted Caribbean academic, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, has been appointed to chair a Caribbean Reparation Commission that will seek to advance the region’s position on the injustices suffered as a result of the slave trade.
Sir Hilary was appointed at the end of the first ever three-day Regional Reparation Conference that ended here late Tuesday.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders at their meeting in Trinidad in July had agreed to the formation of a region-wide Reparations Commission to seek compensation from Europe for native genocide and enslavement of Africans during colonisation.
Member of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Reparation Committee, Joseph Delves, speaking on the state-owned NBC radio Wednesday, described the conference as a “huge success”.
He said that the Commission would comprise the various heads of the national reparation commissions.
““We have also set up and appointed some five vice chairs…so that body will be the body that would be advising the CARICOM heads.
“So you have your structure going forward. We also adopted the significant terms of reference for this Caribbean wide Commission and the conference ended with the public filming of the movie called “War” a movie on Walter Rodney, the great Caribbean academic from Guyana.
“So it was a resounding success,” he said, noting also the workshop sessions during the conference were very informative.
“What we learnt is a lot of what we shared in common, we go a sense of what happened for example in the Netherlands, we got a sense of what happened in Suriname, we got a sense of where the various reparation movements are.
“For example, Jamaica’s reparation committee was set up since 2009 and they have done a lot of work, they have produced a book and so forth. Some countries have not set up yet. Grenada hasn’t set up yet, St. Lucia is setting up.
He said the conference was also very “information because of the historical data that was presented and shared, and also very informative in terms of where people are in terms of the reparation thrust,” Delves added.
At the launch of the conference over the weekend, Professor Verene Shepard of the University of the West Indies (uwi), delivering the feature address, said that the reparations movement would take its place alongside the defining moment of the post colonial Caribbean.
“For here we are, gathered in ‘Freedom Park (Victoria Park) in this year to honour those who have gone before, so that other can follow and to chart a way forward to seek redress for those who suffered brutality at the hands Europeans during the period of conquest, during the reign of terror on indigenous people, during colonisation, the transatlantic trade in captured Africans, African enslavement and post slavery indentureship and other regimes which were used to recreate the slave relations of production,” she said.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said regional leaders were now awaiting the recommendations coming out of the conference.
“The road map is being fashioned…and the way forward is being devised,” he told reporters in Trinidad where he had been attending a CARICOM Bureau meeting..
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Persad Bissessar, who chaired the Bureau meeting, said the leaders had also agreed that they would be addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the reparation issue over the next few weeks.