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Sir Hilary: Indo, Afro descendants entitled

Saturday, July 15 2017

VICE-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, says that descendants of East Indians and Africans, “the violently oppressed ancestors” of the region, are entitled to Reparatory Justice.

In a statement marking the century of Indian Emancipation, Sir Hilary said that the Abolition of Indenture Act of 1917, following the Emancipation of Slavery Act in 1838 brought to an end the violent subjugation of the Africans and Indian ancestors of the region in the “criminal plantation complex” which enriched Europeans while unleashing hell on Africans and Asians.

He said, “The colonial enterprise in the Caribbean had evolved through three different distinct but interacted stages.

The integration of indigenous people into the slave labour market, subsequent to their land dispossession, in short time led to a genocidal circumstance.

The importation into the region of over five million enchained Africans over 300 years; of which less than a million were accounted for when slavery ultimately ended. Finally, the importation of nearly 500,000 Indians under the deceptive and violently enforced indenture, led to the creation of a kind of neo-slavery regime in the region that ignited in the Indians an endemic culture of resistance and rebellion.” He said that in order to sustain the politically discredited plantation system, the British Government led the way in Europe with the importation of some 3.5 million Indentured Indians in the decades following the end of slavery and these hapless souls were then distributed to the various British plantation colonies in an updated and modernised form of slavery.

He said that by 1900 it was clear to the Indians that they had been deceived by their employers and by the colonial powers and that they were subordinated under a racialised social system that was more than a labour regime.

The statement said that in some places the rebellion of the Indians was based on an accurate reading of the structures of oppression and involved collaboration with the Africans while in other places they struck out alone to deal with their specific and peculiar circumstances.

“But altogether they contributed to a culture of collective mobilisation and opposition to colonialism that was long in place. In this regard they consolidated and enhanced the broader struggle for social justice.”

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