Sir Hilary Beckles

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An Address delivered by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the Caricom Reparations Commission, House of Commons, Parliament of Great Britain, Thursday, July 16, 2014.

I speak this evening, in this honourable chamber of the House of Commons, as Chairman of the Caricom Commission on Reparations.

My colleagues of the Commission are tasked with the preparation and presentation of the evidentiary basis for a contemporary truth: that the Government of Great Britain, and other European states that were the beneficiaries of enrichment from the enslavement of African peoples, the genocide of indigenous communities, and the deceptive breach of contract and trust in respect of Indians and other Asians brought to the plantations under indenture, have a case to answer in respect of reparatory justice.

The case of genocide is not only in respect of our decimated native community. It is also important to recognize the genocidal aspect of chattel slavery in the Caribbean.

British slave ships brought 5.5 million enslaved Africans into their Caribbean colonies over 180 years. When slavery was abolished in 1838 they were just 800,000 persons remaining. That is, a retention/survival rate of 15%. The regime of enslavement was crafted by policies and attitudes that were clearly genocidal.
Jamaica received 1.5 million Africans. Only 300,000 remained at Emancipation (20%).
Barbados received 600,000 Africans. Only 83,000 remained at Emancipation (14%).

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