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Call for an international day for cultural property reparations relating to colonisation

Kwame Opoku [1] has forwarded me information about proposals (supported by various organisations in a number of countries) for an International Day for Reparations Related to Colonization.

Regular readers of this website will know that many of the cases discussed here, such as the Benin Bronzes, would fall into this category.

If you would like further information about this, please contact Louis-Georges Tin, the Chairman of the CRAN (Council Representing Black Organisations in France) [2]. If you would like to get in touch, please let me know & I can provide you with further contact details.

Kwame Opoku (by email)

Call for the International Day for Reparations Related to Colonization

On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus set foot on the so called “New World”,
ushering in a cycle of occupation, violence, genocide and slavery: this was the beginning
of colonization.

Colonization is a global phenomenon: there is hardly a country in the world that has not
been colonized, a colonizer, or both, such as the United States. Colonization is one of the
phenomena that has most disrupted humanity. It has left a deep and lasting impression on
all continents and the consequences of this are

• demographic: there are millions of people who have been exterminated, deported, or
sold into forced labour.

• political: in Africa, America, Asia, and Oceania, cities, kingdoms and empires have
disappeared. Traditional communities were gradually disrupted and subjected to
European domination.

• economic: the entire economic fabric of societies was brutally dismantled. Crops
were looted and famines became more frequent. Dispossessed of their own wealth,
those who were colonized were permanently immersed in a state of chronic poverty.

• cultural: colonization destroyed many civilizations, languages, cultures and religions.
Those who were colonized often lost their roots and their identity. The social image of
the non-European was degraded and this has facilitated the development of racist
theories, which has fuelled violence and discrimination of all kinds.

• ecological: the introduction of technologies in the service of profit and productivity
focused visions caused the ransacking of millions of hectares of forests, the wasting
of natural resources, the pollution of whole regions and it has made the environment
fragile and deteriorated public health. It has also helped to disrupt ecosystems and, of
course, the most devastating effect of colonization from an ecological aspect is the
increase of global warming.

Begun in the late fifteenth century, colonization lasted several centuries and continues to
this day in modern forms (imperialism, mining, land grabbing, military interventions, etc.) .

When a wrong has been committed, it must be repaired. If you recognise that colonization
has been a source of massive crimes against humanity, then reparations are legitimate. If
you refuse these reparations, then you deny the criminal nature of colonial crimes.

This is why we are forcefully demanding reparations, and this demand is non-negotiable.
Since the beginning of colonization, over five centuries ago, men and women have fought
against it and demanded justice.

Whether it is genocide in the Americas, the transatlantic slave trade, or colonization in
Africa, Asia and Oceania, figures as famous as Condorcet, Callie House, Martin Luther
King Jr., Malcolm X, Frantz Fanon, Desmond Tutu, and Wole Soyinka have defended the
principle of reparations.

The 2001 UN conference in Durban has strengthened the mobilization of peoples and now
states and even regional organizations have involved. As of now, this issue is being
debated in the African Union, Caricom, in much of the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and
Europe. Some states have even begun to implement their own reparations policies.

On Oct. 12, 2013 we are launching the International Day for Reparations related to
colonization. Approved and supported by the Assembly of Social Movements of the World
Social Forum held in Tunis in March 2013, this initiative will give more strength and
visibility to actions around this topic: Our credo is Unity is strength.

One may certainly discuss the terms of reparations, but it is important that it is effectively
implemented as soon as possible. From this day on, now and every year forward, we will
aim to advance justice in the world. Because it is not only the past, but the present and the
future potential of all things is hampered both by the weight of the past colonialism and by
new forms of imperialist domination.

We invite citizens, NGOs, and governments to seize this iconic date and implement any
and all action necessary to advance the cause of reparations all over the world (press
releases, conferences, exhibitions, media campaigns, street actions, cultural festivals,
radio broadcasts or television, political decisions, etc.).

Our parents and grandparents fought for independence and freedom, we must continue
their fight to get justice.

AfricAvenir – Germany

Association pour la Taxation des Transactions financières et pour l’Action Citoyenne
(ATTAC) Togo – Togo

Berlin Postkolonial – Germany

Comité pour l’Annulation de la Dette du Tiers Monde (CADTM) Lubumbashi – Congo,
Democratic Republic

Colonialism Reparation – Italy

Comité International des Peuples Noirs (CIPN) – Guadeloupe, France

Conseil Représentatif des Associations Noires (CRAN) – France

Mouvement International pour les Réparations (MIR) – Martinique, France

Réseau National Dette et Développement (RNDD) Niger – Niger

Slave Trade Reparations Project (STeR) – United Kingdom

Union des Femmes pour la Dignité Humaine (UFDH) – Congo, Democratic Republic