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Hilary Beckles elected chair of CARICOM Reparations Commission

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A request that CARICOM mandate the teaching of reparations education in schools, is one of the suggestions tabled at the just concluded reparations conference which took place here this week.{{more}}

The three-day event ended on a high note on Tuesday evening, with participants keeping hope that the momentum generated this week, in the quest for restitution from Europe, for native genocide against the indigenous peoples of the region, and African slavery, continues to build.

The final two days took place at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown, while the opening of the conference was held at the Victoria Park, temporarily renamed Freedom Park.

The conference also saw the election of University of the West Indies lecturer Professor Dr Hilary Beckles, as the chair of the CARICOM Regional Reparations Commission, which was formed on the final day of the three day event, with the three co-chairs of the commission being Jomo Thomas (in charge of inter-government relations), Dr Verene Shepherd (research), and Ahmad Zunder (mobilization).

The establishment of a Pan-Caribbean Civil Society Reparations Network was another major milestone achieved at the conference, which was attended by delegates from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

There were also representatives from Guadeloupe, Martinique, US Virgin Islands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and the Netherlands.

The network was mandated to mobilize the Caribbean people in support of the quest for reparations, and to collaborate with, and support the work of the National Reparations Committees and the CARICOM Regional Reparations Commission.

Recognition was also given to past reparations initiatives, such as the work done by the Rastafari movement and some major reparations conferences that have occurred in Nigeria, Washington, D.C. and Barbados.

Presenters from various countries described the composition of reparations committees in their home countries, and the state of public opinion on the issue. Some key areas covered related to the middle passage, deportation, wealth generated through slavery, and the depopulation and underdevelopment of Africa as a result of enslavement.

Presentations were made by a number of delegates from the various countries, including Professor Beckles, Prime Minster of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Garifuna leader Jose Avila, and Jamaican reggae legend Bunny Wailer, who also performed at the opening of the conference.(JJ)

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