UNESCO Extols Slaves' Struggle for Freedom

Panafrican News Agency, 23 August 2000

PARIS—UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura Wednesday paid tribute to the relentless struggle by slaves for freedom which marked the start of the process which finally led to the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

In a message to mark the start of the International day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, observed world-wide 23 August every year, he said that UNESCO wished to inscribe in the memory of all people a tragedy that has been forgotten and left less known.

He noted that the uprising which took place in the Island of Santo Domingo (present day Haiti and Dominican Republic) on the night of the 22nd and 23rd August 1791 shook the foundations of slavery and marked the beginning of the abolish of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

He added: 23 August is thus an occasion to recall a tragedy long overlooked in order to restore it in its rightful place in the history of humanity bearing in mind its universal nature.

According to Matsuura, UNESCO's Slave Routes project aims to create a space for collective reflection and analysis about the root causes of the slave trade, how it operated and its consequences, especially interactions it engendered among populations in Africa, Europe, the Americas and Caribbean.

Matsuura noted that the celebration which concerns historical truth, development, solidarity and human rights must mobilise all nations and civil societ as a whole.

It is in this spirit that I invite countries to organise, elicit and support all activities—particularly those which involve the young people, educators, artists and intellectuals—which can raise consciousness about slavery and the slave trade, he emphasised.

Such activities would further promote ethical reflection about the impact of the trade and its consequences, particularly regarding new forms of slavery, and thus stimulate solidarity with persons who are its victims, he added.