PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Trinidad and Tobago observed Emancipation Day yesterday with a call for the oil-rich twin-island republic to join in the Caribbean effort to get Europe to pay reparation to the descendants of African slaves.
President Antony Carmona, in a message to mark the occasion, said that Trinidad and Tobago should support the efforts of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments in seeking reparation for the Atlantic slave trade.
In his message, he quoted the chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West indies (UWI), Sir Hilary Beckles, who noted that the governments of Great Britain and Europe "were the beneficiaries of enrichment from the enslavement of African people, the genocide of the indigenous communities and the deceptive breach of contract and trust in respect of East Indians and other Asians brought to the plantations under indenture, have a case to answer in respect of reparatory justice".
"As a former judge and a firm believer in reparatory justice, I am of the view that as we celebrate Emancipation Day 2017, we must examine affirmatively the case for reparations as adopted by CARICOM governments and advocated by Sir Hilary and other spokespersons.
"We in Trinidad and Tobago must view the call for reparations in the context of the duty we owe to our forefathers who made the ultimate sacrifice and whose contribution to our present well-being must be recognised in a world which now accepts that compensation and reparation are prerequisites in the dispensation of justice" Carmona said.
He recalled that the United Nations in 2007 declared March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
"I wish to call on all citizens to take time out during the Emancipation holiday to focus on their life's journey: from whence they started, where they consider themselves to have reached and what is to be their life's achievement.
"Emancipation Day must, therefore, be a moment of regeneration, to renew in our lives a purposefulness to lead a life of quality, of sustainable ambition, independence, personal self-worth and vision," he added.