The United Nations has honoured the memory of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing the hope that the struggle against one of the greatest atrocities in history will inspire the world in the battle against modern forms of slavery such as forced labour and human trafficking.
Even as we mourn the atrocities committed against the countless victims, we take heart from the courage of slaves who rose up to overcome the system which oppressed them, Mr. Ban said at a special ceremony at UN Headquarters marking the first International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
These brave individuals, and the abolitionist movements they inspired, should serve as an example to us all as we continue to battle the contemporary forms of slavery that stain our world today, the Secretary-General told those gathered at the event, which included performances by African drummers,dancers and poets and a steel pan troupe from the Caribbean.
Mr. Ban said that even millions around the world, including children,are suffering under the yoke of racism, forced labour, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Not only is the world shamed by these horrible crimes but it is also challenged to respond, he said. Let us honour the victims of the slave trade by remembering their struggle. Let us carry it forward until no person is deprived of liberty, dignity and human rights.
In a separate message, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said the occasion provided an opportunity to acknowledge a profoundly shameful period in history and to remember the millions who suffered.
It also gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to the courage and moral conviction of all those who campaigned for abolition, he added.
In December 2007, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 25 March as an annual day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
It also decided to erect a permanent memorial at the UN to acknowledge the tragedy and consider the legacy of slavery.(ANA)
FA/ANA/27 March 2008---