REVISITING THE DURBAN 400

By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (June 35, 3008)

 

            Reflecting back on the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and the subsequent war that is being waged in which thousands of lives are being lost, we are deeply saddened that the state of the world continues to produce this kind of devastating violence.

            The Durban 400 was made up of the December 12th Movement International Secretariat and the National Black United Front (NBUF) that were leading participants in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) that was held in Durban, South Africa from August 31st through September 7, 2001. Because the United States did not agree with many of the issues being raised at this conference, particularly, the push by African people worldwide to declare that the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery are a Crime Against Humanity and that Reparations are owed to African people in the Diaspora and on the continent of Africa, the United States withdrew their low level delegation and left only the Ambassador to South Africa to represent them.

            The role of the United States and Western Europe (WEO) to subvert the agenda “provided the indisputable proof” that the issues we fought for, to be included in the Durban Declaration, went to the “heart of the World Conference Against Racism.” For over two years, representatives from the Durban 400 traveled throughout the world attending the various preparatory meetings for the WCAR, advocating our agenda that was simple and focused: 1) Declaration of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, Slavery, and Colonialism as Crimes Against Humanity; 2) Reparations for African people on the continent and in the Diaspora; 3) Recognition of the Economic Base of Racism.

            As the (Non Governmental Organization) International Association Against Torture pointed out in their intervention at the WCAR,  “From the beginning they were clear (The U.S. and the WEO Group) that a conference which addressed racism and racial discrimination could only have one outcome— to subject them to the same human rights standards which they imperiously demand that the developing world uncomplainingly submit to and to identify them as perpetrators of history’s greatest crime against humanity, the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery.”

            One of the supporters of the Durban 400 wrote me the following reflections shortly after the 9-11 attacks that I think are still timely for the events currently occurring in the United States. The reflections read as follows:

                        As we recover from our shock and sadness, and for some anger,

            over these attacks, has anyone asked why? Why?

                        We hear talk of retaliation: “defending U. S. freedom,” “they     

            won’t get away with this,” and “the suspect is…” Can there really only

            be one suspect, especially after Timothy McVeigh? Or is this “suspect”

            convenient for the United States. Any excuse to start a war with this

            suspect, maybe!

                        This is the picture that is presented to the masses in the U. S.

            Unfortunately, not enough of the masses truly think and pay attention to

            what is happening in the world, internationally, and what role the U. S.

            plays in the anguish. And, the U. S. knows the masses aren’t paying

            attention or seeking information. That’s why all the rhetoric about

            “getting back” instead of “maybe we should pay attention from the

            standpoint of a Universal Heart instead of U. S. interest.”

                        How mighty can the United States be without a shift in thinking?

 

            I will add, “How mighty can the United States be without acknowledging, apologizing, and paying reparations to African people for the Greatest Crime Against Humanity they participated in, the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, Slavery, and Colonialism?”

            As researched by the UNESCO Slave Trade Project, the Museum of the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the Harvard Database on Slave Voyages, twenty-eight to forty-two million African people were captured and enslaved between 1441 and 1888… Four to six million Africans, 40% of all captives and slaves, were murdered or died along the entire “way of death…”

            Just as other people never forget their history and the tragedies and crimes committed against them, neither should African people. Therefore, the Durban 400 declared a victory in contributing to the final outcome of the Durban Declaration that reflects the interests of African people by citing:

                        “We acknowledge that slavery and the slave trade, including the

                        transatlantic slave trade, were appalling tragedies in the history

                        of humanity not only because of their abhorrent barbarism but

                        also in terms of their magnitude, organized nature and especially

                        their negation of the essence of the victims and further acknowledge

                        that slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity and

                        should always have been so…”

 

            Although the language of the Durban Declaration did not specifically call for reparations for African people, it is now our duty to intensify our organizing in demanding the United States Government and U. S. Corporations pay reparations. We must take the Reparations Movement to the streets of the African Community of America.


National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)


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