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Mike Henry backs London Emancipation Day march

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

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MEMBER of Parliament for Clarendon Central and reparations advocate, Mike Henry has joined the international drive to generate increased public discourse and support for reparatory justice through his backing of the African Emancipation Day Reparations March, scheduled for London today.

The veteran MP, who has long been at the forefront of local reparations advocacy, said the march is “another welcomed juncture of this drive that will not cease without due recognition of, and redress for the exploitation and grave injustices that were and have been meted out to people of African descent”.

The march will open and finish with a rally at Windrush Square in Brixton, featuring community organisers, campaigners and activists engaged in reparatory justice-related activism. The marchers will then proceed to Parliament Square, where three minutes of silence will be observed in commemoration of their ancestors who took action to stop the atrocities, or who otherwise organised and campaigned for freedom, equity and justice for people of African heritage.

The event has become one of the flagship African heritage community activities, promoting the United Nations-declared 2015-2024 International Decade for People of African descent.

August 1 was chosen as the date of the march in recognition of Emancipation Day as a reparations-focused day because it is observed in many former European colonies in the Caribbean and commemorates the passing of the Abolition of Slavery Act in the British Empire on August 1, 1833.

However, Henry has argued that the passage of the Act did very little to emancipate enslaved Africans. Instead, he said the Act compensated their British enslavers, resulting in the impoverishment, dispossession and social displacement of the Africans and their descendants.

He pointed out that the pending exit of Britain from the European Union under Brexit is believed by reparations advocates to be signalling “darker days” for people of African descent in Britain, through increased hate crimes in that country, have been cited as a basis for the August 1 march.

The march is intended to demonstrate that reparations activists have their own ideas and agendas in pursuit of the compensation.

Henry said the aim of the march is to draw attention to the determination of Africans to hold Britain accountable for the crimes of colonial enslavement, and submit a petition calling for an all-party parliamentary commission of inquiry for truth and reparatory justice, “to raise consciousness about the position that the traditional, individual, and collective attacks and exploitation of people of African descent by the British amount to political and economic genocide, which necessitates reparations”.

This year's march is being held under the theme 'Nothing About Us Without Us: Actualising the Reparatory Justice Change We Envisage'.

There will also be a 'People's Open Parliamentary Session on African Reparations' at Parliament Square, where participants in the march will debate and engage in a 'battle of ideas' on the effectiveness of marching and the reparations march in particular, as a tactic in the process of effecting and securing holistic reparatory justice.

Additionally, there will be the annual submission of a petition to the Prime Minister's Office at 10 Downing Street.

Henry said the African Emancipation Day Reparations March has generated support that has inspired other groups to stage their own marches and other solidarity actions internationally, such as the annual SANKOFAAPAE Pan-African Libation Ceremony in Accra, Ghana. Each march features representatives from a variety of African heritage community reparatory justice movements, struggles and campaigns.


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