Reparations & Human Rights

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Reparations & Human Rights

I’m confident that Americans have heard just about every issue addressing the past, present and future of Afro-descendants (descendants of enslaved Africans, also known in the U.S. as African Americans.) Reparation has been discussed for a while, yet the umbrella under which reparations and all of the other issues are gathered, the umbrella of human rights, is almost never discussed.

While we continue to make remarkable strides, we still are not afforded the same dignity and the same freedoms as other human families throughout the world. Our original identity, carried forth in language, culture and religion, was removed from us during slavery. Today, in the year 2008, despite our heroic struggles and sacrifices, most of us are still unaware that we have a HUMAN RIGHT to our identity, and we were stripped of that right.

We were forced to assume the identity of the people who enslaved us, and that rendered us non-existent – not recognized – under international law. That assumption of another’s identity also rendered us 2nd class citizens, making us susceptible to other indignities such as racism, exclusion, exploitation, discrimination, racial profiling and unequal protection of the law.

For the past 15 years, (so-called) African Americans have been represented by a team of delegates at the international level addressing the UN Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-Commission and the Working Group on Minorities. This team stands on the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which envisages human rights for everyone, everywhere.

Led by Mr. Silis Muhammad, CEO of All For Reparations and Emancipation (AFRE), the diverse team has represented Afro-descendants at UN sponsored forums in Switzerland, Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Canada, and South Africa. After Mr. Muhammad’s arguments on behalf of Afro-descendants were heard at the UN, experts began to recognize that the UN had an obligation to find a solution us – they had no choice if they wished to uphold human rights for everyone, everywhere.

After 20 years of work, and more than 40 occasions wherein Mr. Muhammad spoke at conferences and seminars of the UN, international recognition and establishment of international identity has been accomplished. Using the foundation and legal standing of these achievements, the battle for reparations continues.

As you know, the trans-Atlantic slave trade scattered our ancestors across the western hemisphere. Today Afro-descendants constitute a human family stretching far beyond the U.S. into many countries in Northern and Latin America and the Slavery Diaspora. The low estimate of Afro-descendants in the western hemisphere is 250 million.

There is a UN Sub-Commission conference room paper entitled A Regional Perspective on Afro-descendant Quality of Life available at www.AllForReparations.org.

I recommend that you read it and learn about the struggles of our human family in the many countries in which we live today. I also invite you to visit my blog at http://reparations.wordpress.com/ for news and updates.

Maia Hadi, Commissioner
National Commission for Reparations

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