Reparations for Slavery: A Just Demand, Constantly Blocked by Bourgeois Legal System

[In the systems whose wealth and power is rooted in historic plunder, enslavement, displacement and extermination, the demand for reparations (“to repair the damage”) is routinely dismissed and denounced by bourgeois media and law — as “unreasonable” or “unrealistic,” at best, or, more commonly, as “irrational” or “greedy” or even “treasonous.” — Frontlines ed.]

For the sins of the fathers:  Caribbean countries sue for slavery, but what could it mean for SA?

Rebecca Davis, World (South African publication)22 Oct 2013
Rebeccaslavery

Fourteen Caribbean nations are to sue European governments for reparations for slavery. The Caribbean Community (Caricom) is bringing lawsuits to the International Court of Justice in the Hague against Britain, France and the Netherlands for their roles in the Atlantic slave trade. They argue that the social and economic legacy of slavery continues to disadvantage them to this day. It’s an interesting case, and it might prompt some reflection about South Africa’s own reparations issues. By REBECCA DAVIS.

Regional Caribbean organisation Caricom, through its British law firm Leigh Day, will seek to make the case in the Hague that through their colonial participation in the slave-trade, Britain, France and the Netherlands essentially contributed towards the stunting of Caribbean development, and now owe 14 Caribbean nations reparations for slavery and an apology.

Exactly how much money they want, and how they think it should be disbursed, is not yet clear. The figure mentioned by several media outlets has been that Britain paid 20 million pounds in compensation to slave-owners in the Caribbean almost two decades after the abolition of slavery in 1834. (The slaves got nothing.) This figure was massive even at the time, amounting to 40% of the erstwhile government’s budget, and would now be equivalent to about 200 billion pounds. Continue reading

The Caribbean case for Reparations from Britain

Reparations: a case for settlement

A Rastafarian man holds up a cardboard placard calling for reparations during a demonstration as Britain's Prince Harry visited the non-governmental organisation RISE in Kingston on March 6, 2012. - AP
[A Rastafarian man holds up a cardboard placard calling for reparations during a demonstration as Britain’s Prince Harry visited the non-governmental organisation RISE in Kingston on March 6, 2012. – AP]

Courtenay Barnett, Guest Columnist, The Gleaner (Jamaica, West Indies), Sunday, June 30, 2013

This month, Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) was required to pay 19.9 million pounds in compensation to some 5,000 elderly Kenyans who were tortured and abused during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s. This case bears lessons for the Caribbean and it also has much to teach about the true nature of the British Empire.

The British imposed themselves in Kenya and confiscated land. In 1948, a quarter-million Kenyans were confined to 2,000 square miles, while 30,000 English settlers lived on 12,000 square miles of the most fertile lands in Kenya. Africans under an apartheid and colonial policy were forbidden to enter certain areas and confined away from the most arable land.

Not surprisingly, the Kenyans rebelled and started a violent campaign against the white settlers in 1952. The colonialists responded, and the Kenya Human Rights Commission estimated that 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed. There was the use of literal concentration camps as a nationwide network of detention for some 160,000 who were detained in the most appalling conditions.

TORTURED

President Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, happened to be one of those detained persons. He had pins placed into his fingernails and in his buttocks and his testicles were squeezed between metal rods. Other Kenyans were forcibly relocated in new villages. Within the camps, the British inflicted beatings, castrated, raped and performed other forms of sexual abuse and torture applying brutal interrogation techniques against the Kenyans.

It was against this background that elderly Kenyans who had suffered abuse when detained filed a claim in the English High Court. Two of the original five claimants had been castrated and an African lady who had been raped was included in the claim. Continue reading

West Indies: Economic Historian Hilary Beckles on the Struggle for Justice, Rights and Reparations

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Caribbean nations which ignore the human and civil rights of the citizenry will never be able to access reparations. Visiting Barbados economic historian Hilary Beckles, campus principal of Cave Hill and Pro Vice Chancellor of UWI, made this comment at a public lecture and launch of his book Britain’s Black Debt at Daaga Auditorium, St Augustine Campus, on May 23. Among those present were St Augustine campus principal Prof Clement Sankat, Prof Funso Aiyejina, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, literary icon Earl Lovelace and head of the department of history Dr Heather Cateau. 

Beckles dedicated his book to the late eminent historian and T&T’s first prime minister Dr Eric Williams, author of the seminal work Capitalism and Slavery. Beckles said his book should be seen as a sequel to Williams’ work and dedicated it to him. His narrative revolved around a cover photograph of a young queen Elizabeth of England taking a stroll with her cousin, the 7th Earl of Harewood on his sugar plantation (the Belle) in Barbados in 1966. It was bought by the earl’s ancestor in 1780 and there were 232 slaves. Before delving into the post pan-African conversation, Beckles said he had to “purge himself” by writing this book which he deemed to be a case study of the need for reparations for the descendants of enslaved peoples. He felt Britain had a case to answer, which the Caribbean should litigate. Beckles said he believed there would be no social justice until the matter of reparations was addressed. Continue reading

She Almost Stopped the War

Katharine Gun: Ten years on,  what happened to the woman who revealed dirty tricks on the UN Iraq war vote?

In the run-up to the critical vote on war in Iraq, Katharine Gun exposed a US plot to spy on the UN. As a film of her story is planned, she tells of her anger and frustration – but not her regrets

The Observer, Saturday 2 March 2013

Katharine Gun

[Katharine Gun back in Cheltenham last week: ‘This is the ugly truth of what goes on.’ Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer]

Ten years ago, a young Mandarin specialist at GCHQ, the government’s surveillance centre in Cheltenham, did something extraordinary. Katharine Gun, a shy and studious 28-year-old who spent her days listening in to obscure Chinese intercepts, decided to tell the world about a secret plan by the US government to spy on the United Nations.

She had received an email in her inbox asking her and her colleagues to help in a vast intelligence “surge” designed to secure a UN resolution to send troops into Iraq. She was horrified and leaked the email to the Observer. As a result of the story the paper published 10 years ago this weekend, she was arrested, lost her job and faced trial under the Official Secrets Act.

The memo from Frank Koza, chief of staff at the “regional targets” section of the National Security Agency, GCHQ’s sister organisation in the US, remains shocking in its implications for British sovereignty. Koza was in effect issuing a direct order to the employees of a UK security agency to gather “the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises”. This included a particular focus on the “swing nations” on the security council, Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, “as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters”. Continue reading

Britain’s colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition

David Cameron’s ancestors were among the wealthy families who received generous reparation payments that would be worth millions of pounds in today’s money

Sanchez Manning, The Independent

Sunday 24 February 2013

The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.

The previously unseen records show exactly who received what in payouts from the Government when slave ownership was abolished by Britain – much to the potential embarrassment of their descendants. Dr Nick Draper from University College London, who has studied the compensation papers, says as many as one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy.

As a result, there are now wealthy families all around the UK still indirectly enjoying the proceeds of slavery where it has been passed on to them. Dr Draper said: “There was a feeding frenzy around the compensation.” A John Austin, for instance, owned 415 slaves, and got compensation of £20,511, a sum worth nearly £17m today. And there were many who received far more.

Academics from UCL, led by Dr Draper, spent three years drawing together 46,000 records of compensation given to British slave-owners into an internet database to be launched for public use on Wednesday. But he emphasised that the claims set to be unveiled were not just from rich families but included many “very ordinary men and women” and covered the entire spectrum of society.

Dr Draper added that the database’s findings may have implications for the “reparations debate”. Barbados is currently leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families. Continue reading

British workers strike against pension cuts

Marchers in London carry placards during a nationwide day of strikes Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of people participated. / LEFTERIS PITARAKIS/Associated Press

BY JILL LAWLESS

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON — British teachers and public-sector workers swapped classrooms and offices for picket lines Thursday as hundreds of thousands walked off the job to protest pension cuts.

Airport operators warned there could be long lines at immigration entry points because of walkouts by passport officers, but most of Britain’s airports, including Heathrow and Manchester, said it was business as usual.

Unions estimated that up to 750,000 teachers and civil servants joined the one-day strike, which disrupted courthouses, tax offices, employment centers and schools. The government said the figure was lower.

Thousands of union members marched through London and other cities to demand that the government rethink plans to curb public-sector pensions. Small groups of anti-capitalist protesters scuffled with police and were cordoned in by officers.

Police said 37 people were arrested for offenses including drug possession, criminal damage and breach of the peace.

Thursday’s walkouts are the first salvo in what unions said they hope will be a summer of discontent against the Conservative-led government’s austerity plans. Continue reading

THE CLASH — KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

“Know Your Rights” is a song by The Clash released as a single prior to the release of the album, Combat Rock, on which it appears. The song was the first single from the album.

The song begins with the words “This is a public service announcement…with guitars!” The structure of the song revolves around the rights held by the poor and disenfranchised, in which the speaker of the song, presumably a villainous civil servant (whose identity is assumed in the song by vocalist Joe Strummer), is only able to name three rights, which are all provisional anyway. At the end, the notion that more rights should be granted is rebuffed by the speaker.

The three rights are:

1. The right not to be killed, unless it is done by a policeman or an aristocrat.

2. The right to food money, providing of course, you don’t mind a little investigation, humiliation, and, if you cross your fingers, rehabilitation.

3. The right to free speech (as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it).

The song is featured on the compilation album, Songs and Artists That Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11, which followed up the 2004 documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11 by filmmaker Michael Moore, where the track listing was selected by Moore based on the songs and the artists he listened to while creating the documentary.

This background information is from Wikipedia