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Pay back time

Sir Hilary steps up campaign for British reparations

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Reparations Committee, headed by Barbadian professor Sir Hilary Beckles, has stepped up its campaign to get Britain to pay what it says is “a long overdue contribution” to the region’s economic development.

During a recent visit to the United Kingdom, Sir Hilary, who is vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies, presented a model for reparations at Oxford University.

He also met at the House of Commons with political leaders and civil society organizations to discuss CARICOM’s call for reparatory justice for African enslavement and native genocide.

The meeting was a follow-up to Sir Hilary’s visit to England in July 2014 where he addressed the British Parliament.

Sir Hilary stated that reparatory justice was not a backward call for handouts, as many believe.

“On the contrary, it is a renewed call for development cooperation between Britain and the Caribbean.

“It is about Britain making a long overdue contribution to the economic development of the Caribbean through investments in areas such as education, health care, agriculture reform, technology and science to transfer through the universities and colleges,” he said.

“It concerns debt abandonments since the governments of the Caribbean have used up their scarce resources desperately trying to clean up the colonial mess Britain left behind, such as rampant illiteracy, poor health care, horrible housing, and backward attitudes to development,” he added.

In a scathing attack on the UK, he accused Britain of abandoning its financial obligation to the Caribbean, whose citizens and governments had done very well with self-responsibility.

“But the time has come for Britain to honour its legal and moral obligation to the Caribbean,” the head of the regional reparations committee said.

“Every finance minister in the Caribbean should stand with the reparations movement and jointly call upon Britain to facilitate economic development and recovery since, as [British] Prime Minister [David] Cameron said, the Caribbean has been neglected for 30 years after 300 years of wealth extraction,” he added.

During the lecture, which was hosted by Professor Louise Richardson Oxford’s new vice chancellor Sir Hilary suggested that Britain should establish a facility like the Jewish Reparation Fund, which drives Israeli development works projects.  He said a CARICOM Reparation Fund could receive reparations for development purposes and fund projects for the people of the Caribbean.

Sir Hilary’s 10-point action plan called for an apology, repatriation, an indigenous people’s programme, cultural institutions, programmes designed to improve public health, literacy and African knowledge; psychological rehabilitation and technology upgrading programmes and debt cancellation.

He said that Britain had a responsibility to the citizens of the Caribbean to right the wrongs of slavery by paying reparation.

“It is a vital step in the racial and political healing process”, he declared.

Noting that “Blacks are the only people who have received no reparations for crimes of slavery”, Sir Hilary said urgent action was required to repair damage facing the region such as the debt crisis, poor health and literacy ratios, institutional poverty, food insecurity, unemployment and more.

His stepped up campaign comes amid efforts by a group of scholar/activists in Britain to mobilize their peers to sign a statement calling on Cameron to launch a commission of inquiry into the Histories and Legacies of British Colonialism and the British Empire. 

6 Responses to Pay back time

  1. Tony Webster February 4, 2016 at 5:46 am

    And if they don’t not pay? Well, I’m not going to let one more Brit set a foot onto our white-sand (oops..sorry, golden) beaches hereabouts. DAT will teach ’em a t’ing or two about who is Massa now.

    For today’s lesson, compare and contrast how we set-up the U.W.I., waaay back in the late fifties…how , over de last two-three generations, much aid (cash, kind, and co-operations) has been achieved by mutual understanding and co-operation….and how we ( more correctly…how you) are setting-about it now. Sir, I really wish you well. But Well, I really cannot agree wid how you are going about dis li’l biddness.

    Effin you set abouts to cut down a really, really big tree Sir…de one t’ing you must be careful about , Sir, is dat it doan fall pon you.

  2. Harry February 4, 2016 at 7:20 am

    These arguments prove that free education has not worked in this country

  3. jrsmith February 4, 2016 at 11:08 am

    For me I , do believe in and respect Sir,Hilary, but not this time round.. the history of slavery , today is still a win, win for the new generation of the past slave masters.. from what ever angle we approach this issue of reparation, we will loose..
    One issue has haunted us we are still scared of our past, we lost the will to challenge..

    My take , (Repay.. ration ) for me , our government should raise a billion dollars, to be repaid as we go on , that, never comes , so what happen to Barbados, they will cut our island in half and take it away…that’s my reparation…

  4. Sam Clarke February 4, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    @ Tony Webster. Mr. Webster, you have got it totally wrong. Firs I would suggest that you research the work that this committee has done and read it.
    Secondly, you should attend one of the events, instead of taking tidbits from news media, and making light of the diligent and hard work that these individuals have done and continue to do.

    If i were a betting person, i would bet that you have never even attended any of the information sessions that was done by the committee.
    So if you do not have anything of substance to add to this great debate, you should refrain from insulting our intelligence.

    Here is a bit of information to get you educated about the committee’s work. Those who were affected by the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis, got and continue to get their reparations. Those Japanese who were rounded up by the USA government during the war, got theirs.

    So why those who suffered this African Holocaust, not receive their?Those colonial masters kept excellent records of every slave that was taken and traded in the so call new world. LLOYDS OF LONDON PAID ALL LOSS CLAIMS FOR SLAVES AND SHIPS. THE RECORDS ARE THERE AT LLOYDS OF LONDON AND OTHER BRITISH ARCHIVES FOR YOU MR. WEBSTER TO LOOK AT.

  5. Tony Webster February 4, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Dear Mr. Clarke. Thank you for taking the interest, and the time, to comment. Please however be informed, that immediately after This matter was made public by Sir Hillary,, I published an open letter (BT, if Irecall correctly), addressed to Prof. Pedro Welch, as the named chairman of the “Barbados Steering Committee”, in which I asked six or seven questions which I thought relevant. Some time later, Prof. Welch was interviewed, which I heard on local FM radio , and in reply to a query by the reporter, said that “yes, I have seen something asking questions in the press, and I will deal with this later” ( these might not be his exact words)
    Not having read, or heard, of anything since from the Professor/Chairman, I have even recently reminded him, in the media, of his promise to respond. So far , silence
    I await.

  6. Alex Alleyne February 4, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Do you think Blacks in the USA who are more progressive still waiting for their”40 acres and a mule”?. So do you think that a place like the Caribbean where WE always at each other’s throat and can’t never get simple things fix can get a positive outcome to this. ??????.
    England once that they rather lose a battle ship than to lose a TEST match to the WI.
    THOSE GUYS AINT GIVING UP NOT ONE RED CENT. “They aint going to let us smell the sent off the cent”.


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