Open Letter to Britain from former Jamaica PM Patterson: When do we get an apology and our reparations for British Slavery?

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

This is of extreme importance to us all, whether we're from the Caribbean, have relatives there, or even more significant, we are people of African ancestry and heritage.  My friend, K. Mensah Wali, sent this to me, and think it must be shared - because we have to begin to demand reparations for all Black people the world over - whether in the US, the Caribbean, Africa, South America - We can no longer bite our tongues, and dig our toes in the sand, and walk around with hat in hand and hope these miscreants will repay us for the trauma we suffered, the losses we incurred, and the work we've done (remember the song by the Staple Singers:  WHEN WILL WE BE PAID FOR THE WORK WE'VE DONE?")

So check this out - and I'm posting it in its entirety.  

Stay Blessed & 


Ex Jamaican PM pulls no punches in response to British leader on slavery 

pj-patterson-740KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday October 13, 2015 – Are we not worthy of an apology, or less deserving?
That was the question former Jamaica prime minister PJ Patterson posed in an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron who visited the island recently, following the Brit leader’s failure to apologize for his country’s role in the slave trade and his suggestion that Caribbean countries should put the injustices of slavery behind them and move on.
Cameron’s comments also followed calls from Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller for the UK to discuss the issue of reparations in “a spirit of mutual respect, openness and understanding”.
As he announced a package of over £360 million (US$545.8 million) of bilateral aid for the region, the British leader acknowledged that slavery is abhorrent in all its forms and “Britain is proud to have eventually led the way in its abolition”.
But he made it clear that reparations was not on his agenda: “That the Caribbean has emerged from the long, dark shadow it cast is testament to the resilience and spirit of its people. I acknowledge that these wounds run very deep indeed. But I do hope that, as friends who have gone through so much together since those darkest of times, we can move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future.”
But Patterson was adamant that the mere acknowledgement of the horror of slavery would not suffice.
“It was and still is a most heinous crime against humanity — a stain which cannot be removed merely by the passage of time. Those who perished in the Middle Passage and the fatal victims on the sugar plantations were the victims of genocide. This is a crime in accordance with international law,” he said.
“You have refused to apologize. Yet your Government has apologized to everyone else for horrid crimes. Are we not worthy of an apology or less deserving?
“The international community and international law call for formal apologies when crimes against humanity are committed. The UN has deemed slave trading and slavery as crimes against humanity. The refusal to apologize is a refusal to take responsibility for the crime. In a law-abiding world this is not acceptable,” he added.
The former prime minister said those affected by the slave trade could not simply forget and move on if there is no explicit admission of guilt.
“Where is the prior confession that Britain fashioned, legalized, perpetuated and prospered from the slave trade?
Indeed, the facts speak to a different explanation. In Jamaica, the enslaved led by Sam Sharpe tried to abolish slavery themselves three years before your Parliament acted. The British Army destroyed these freedom fighters and executed their leaders.
This attempt to destroy the seed of freedom and justice in Jamaica continued for another 100 years. In 1865, the peasants sought to occupy Crown lands in order to survive widespread hunger. The British Government sent in the army and massacred those people, executing Paul Bogle, George William Gordon and other leaders.
Furthermore, the British Act of Emancipation reflected that the enslaved people of Jamaica were not human, but property. The 800,000 Africans in the Caribbean and elsewhere were valued at £47 million. The government agreed to compensate the slave owners £20 million, and passed an Emancipation Act, in which the enslaved had to work free for another four to six years in order to work off the £27 million promised slave owners. It was they who paid for their eventual freedom.
The enslaved paid more than 50 per cent of the cost of their market value in compensation to slave owners. This is what your Emancipation Act did. The enslaved got nothing by way of compensation. The Act of Emancipation was self-serving and was designed to support British national commercial interests alone.
Patterson added that it was precisely because “we all want to move on that the reparatory justice movement is alive and growing”.
“We all want to move on, but with justice and equality,” he contended.
“Contrary to your view, the Caribbean people will never emerge completely from the long, dark shadow of slavery until there is a full confession of guilt by those who committed this evil atrocity. The resilience and spirit of its people is no ground to impair the solemnity of a privileged parliamentary occasion and allow the memory of our ancestors to be offended once again.”
Cameron has also been chastised for his comments by American actor and civil rights activist Danny Glover, who was in Jamaica last week.
He said the British leader showed “his ignorance” by suggesting that descendants of slave simply put the atrocity behind them and get on with their lives.
Read PJ Patterson’s letter here.

Don Rojas,
Director of Communications,
Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW),
51 Millstone Road,
Randallstown, MD 21133

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