This is PARCOE’s initial response to the open letter from Dr Barryl Biekman representing the Landelijk Platform Slavernijverleden to Dr Nathaniel Coleman in his capacity of being a member of the recently established European Reparations Commission. https://www.dropbox.com/s/bnjxz3aab4o3nxp/LetterFromBBiekmanToNathanielTheERC.pdf?dl=0
PARCOE members relate to both parties, Dr Nathaniel Coleman via the Afrikan Reparations Transnational Community of Practice, of which he is a member and via the Europe-Wide NGO Consultative Council for Afrikan Reparations (ENGOCCAR) of which Dr Barryl Biekman of the Landelijk Platform Slavernijverleden is also a member.
The views expressed by Dr Barryl Biekman highlight ongoing tensions in Europe regarding matters of activist and organisational integrity, ethics and representation within the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR). These tensions include issues of leadership (both above and from below), accountability and mandate within the ISMAR.
In the lead up to the International Reparations Summit which recently took place in New York, the European Reparations Commission announced its presence via the circular from the Institute of the Black World and social media networking sites. Its members are: Louis-Georges, Michael McEachrane, ModiNtambwe, Kenneth Donau Jessica De Abreu and Dr Nathaniel Coleman
It transpires that although no PARCOE activists attended the National/International Black Reparations Summit, PARCOE became the subject of some discussions between some members of the European Reparations Commission (ERC), some members of the Global Afrikan Congress (GAC) and those who represented CARICOM. It is clear that despite raising principled views on the need for not having a top-down reparations movement and other pertinent matter that were raised, the PARCOE open Letter to CARICOM Heads of Government http://1804caribvoices.org/articles/2013/07/open-letter-to-caricom-heads-on-reparations/#comment-317 and our follow-up Position Paper on CARICOM Reparations http://1804caribvoices.org/articles/2013/09/parcoe-response-reparations/ still appear to have left a bitter taste in the mouths of some reparationists who saw such interventions as undermining the CARICOM Reparations Initiative.
We reject the notion that to raise fundamental questions about the context of the CARICOM reparations initiative is an indication of being opposed to reparations. When we highlighted the then limitations of the CARICOM reparations context; this was not a rejection of the need to mobilise people of Afrikan heritage in support of the quest for reparations or a rejection of the principle of unity amongst pro‐reparations forces at governmental and civil society levels. We do indeed support the notion advanced by Cheikh Anta Diop that we… ”must not abandon discussion out of tact...There should be no concession where there is a question of establishing a scientific truth.” As Afrikan people, on the continent and Diaspora of Afrika, we are focused on a quest for truth, liberation and reparatory justice. In this regard there are no sacrosanct idols. We concur with Law professors Adrienne Davies and Adjoa Aiyeoro who in their brilliant 2010 study, ‘Historic and Modern Social Movements for Reparations: The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) and its Antecedents’, point out that part of the largely untold history of reparations “is the struggle not only for reparations itself, but also the struggle between distinct Black classes over strategies for citizenship and the right to envision the racial future”.
Nevertheless, PARCOE reasserts its position of critical support for the CARICOM Reparations Initiative including the 10 point programme. We reserve the right to also champion pre-existing reparations and in some cases, more complete agendas such as the Abuja Agenda arising from the First Conference on Reparations for Afrikan Enslavement, Colonization and Neo-Colonization, and its UK manifestation, the Birmingham Declaration. In addition to the Black Quest for Justice Campaign (BQJC) Agenda, and legal as well as extra-legal strategy on reparations. We have defended members of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC), individually and collectively, against those who would seek to attack the justness of the sacred cause of reparations. Yet, we are somewhat dismayed by the fact that rather than talk directly to us, as has been requested of various members of CARICOM, the CRC and leading representatives associated with it, that there is still a tendency to talk about and round us.
We state without reservation, that the positions we take are informed by our lived realities and experiences as Afrikans on the Continent of Afrika and in the Diaspora. We apologise to no one for the positions we in PARCOE have expressed, have not been invented by us as we speak for those whose voices are being marginalised and silenced within the ISMAR. PARCOE is a coalition embracing a wide diversity of forces and is in pursuit of an Internationalist Strategy of Pan-Afrikan Reparations for Global Justice. This means that we recognise that the struggle for Afrikan reparations is a global justice struggle. Our purpose is to give Pan-Afrikan liberatory amplification in Europe to the reparatory justice voices of Afrikan people and communities of resistance throughout the continent and the Diaspora of Afrika in furtherance of global justice. This is what is distinctive about PARCOE, we amplify the global voices of reparations communities of interest in Europe. We therefore prioritise promoting the reparatory justice voices of those whom have most often been marginalised or silenced in reparations organising processes thus far and agree with the maxim advanced by Critical Legal Scholar and Professor of Law, Mari Matsuda, that approaches to reparations must engender a “looking to the bottom” approach; asserting that “[r]eparations is a legal concept
generated from the bottom. It arises not from abstraction but from experience.”
Recognising the intergenerational nature of reparatory justice, we stand on the shoulders of our illustrious Afrikan ancestors and those who have given their lives and made sacrifices on behalf of our group struggle to effect and secure reparations. We therefore decry the hypocritical stance whereby historical figures are held up as tokenistic symbols of emancipation, such as the late Dr Walter Rodney, among others, who were heralded at the First Regional Reparations Conference which took place in Hairoun (St Vincent & The Grenadines) in 2013, but the example they set, values they embraced and principles they stood for are trampled on by some social, political and economic elites who are ‘proclaimed’ to be reparations leaders today.
We humbly request that PARCOE is not treated as the unwelcome family member who despite having a right to belong and speak for those family members not invited or desired at the table, their presence is seen as a hindrance because they may say things that are uncomfortable for some. We continue to reject some of the national chauvinistic tendencies that have been apparent in some quarters of proclaimed leaders which have resulted in reifying separating us as an Afrikan people into regions defined by the borders of European imperialism. On this point, history and our ancestors will absolve us. It should also be recognised that many grassroots activists have made huge sacrifices and experienced many deprivations to their human (including personal and economic) security, enjoyment of family life, social standing and status as well as assaults on their dignity and reputation in taking up and sustaining the cause of reparations before it became as popular to identify with the cause of reparations as it is now.
In closing, it is our view that there a need for greater integrity among and between activists, reparations social movement organisations and those that see themselves as being leading voices and activists on reparations, Ethics must become central in our quest to effect and secure reparatory justice. We recognise that the most transformative of movements generally represent a form of ‘prefigurative politics’. This requires that movement participants organise as if they are already in the process of bringing about the post Afrikan Reparations World Order by taking steps to bring about the internal repairs needed in our personal lives, families, organising processes, communities and society. We should therefore strive to model in our present-day lives and work the new values, social relationships and institutions we advocate for on a broader scale, as part of our strategy for bringing about the desired social changes we seek and remaking our World. In other words ‘being and modelling the change we want to see in the world’ which is taken generally to mean that we have to reflect the kind of society we’re fighting for in our lifestyle, organisations, movement/s and government.
We remain open to dialogue with all those genuinely seeking to advance the cause of holistic Afrikan Reparations for the Maangamizi, (Afrikan Holocaust of Chattel, Colonial & Neocolonial Enslavement).
In Dedicated Service
Esther Stanford-Xosei & Kofi Mawuli Klu
Co-Vice Chairs, PARCOE
We can be contacted as follows:
Mobile: + 44 (0)7751143043
Attachment: PARCOE REPRESENTATION AND ETHICS.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document
- FW: PARCOE COMMENTS IN RESPONSE, Landelijk Platform Slavernijverleden, 04/21/2015