KEY QUESTIONS AND THE MILLIONS FOR REPARATIONS RALLY
By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (June 27, 2002)
We are building upon the momentum of our organizing work that led to our successful participation in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism.
Therefore, the Durban 400, led by the December 12th Movement and the National Black United Front (NBUF), is calling on African people in America to get prepared over the coming months to participate in the Millions For Reparations Mass Rally demanding reparations from the United States Government in its Capital City, Washington, D.C. on August 17, 2002, the 115th anniversary of the birth of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
Against this backdrop, as we travel throughout the country, many questions continue to be raised concerning the legitimacy of African peoples demands for reparations in this country, Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America. In our organizing work for Millions For Reparations Mass Rally, we have been preparing ourselves by answering key questions frequently asked in the Reparations Movement.
At the First Pan African Conference on Reparations held in Abuja, Nigeria, April 27-29, 1993, The Group of Eminent Persons on Reparations was established. One of the first actions of this group was to concisely answer many of the question raised about African peoples demands for reparations.
As we continually repeat, in these articles, Reparations, which comes from the word repair, is a movement which seeks to identify and redress those wrongs, so that the countries and people that suffered will enjoy full freedom (and independence) to continue their own development on more equal terms.
These are some of the questions that are most frequently asked about African peoples demands for reparations that the Group of Eminent Persons on Reparations answered.
Question: Why are we asking so late?
Answer: This is not late for the following reasons:
a) There is no statute of limitations which limits claims for murder and genocide, such as was involved in slavery,
b) Further, when slavery was abolished in the 1830s, it was succeeded by colonialism. This did not abolish exploitation of the colonies (and exploitation of African people in the Americas), it was merely a transformation from one set of subjugations to another. Colonialism ended in Africa only 30 years ago and racism, and racial discrimination continues in the United States. As colonies, Africans could not speak for themselves and were not free to do so. African people in America have been faced with similar challenges.
Question: From whom are we asking for Reparations?
Answer: All those countries and peoples who we can prove unjustly benefited from carrying on slavery and other forms of unjust exploitation will be asked to make reparations to those who suffered and continue to suffer as a result of their actions.
Question: Is there any legal basis to support the present demands?
Answer: The demand for African Reparations is based on morality and equity, but it is also supported in international law. There is a principle in law known as unjust enrichment: if one party becomes enriched as a result of a wrong done to another party, the law compels the former to make an adjustment to the latter. There is, in various conventions, such as the Geneva Convention, of the Human Rights Charter of the United Nations, clearly laid down prohibitions against the denial of human rights. This is what Malcolm X was articulating in the 1960s.
This is not a matter that necessarily has to be taken before ordinary courts of law. The conscience of the world is a peoples tribunal, and it certainly helps our experts who are pursuing various kinds of research relative to reparations.
This is one of the reasons that the December 12th Movement and NBUF led a delegation (the Durban 400) to participate in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism. We joined forces with African people from around the world in support of the resolution that the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade was a Crime Against Humanity; thus, African People are Owed Reparations Everywhere!
Question: Should the present generations be held responsible for the wrong doings of their ancestors?
Answer: The African Reparations Movement is not out to penalize the present generations who are descendents of slaveowners, slavetraders, and slavemerchants, etc. What is being placed before the world is the fact that certain countries today (including the United States), and certain sections of the present generation, are in a better position, economically, politically, and socially than the claimants, as a result of the unjust enrichment enjoyed by their ancestors at the expense of the claimants.
We encourage everyone to get ready to participate in the Millions For Reparations Mass Rally on August 17, 2002 in Washington, D.C.
National Black United Front (NBUF)