Swiss Initiative for Slavery-Reparations

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Ezili Danto
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Joined: Sat May 31, 2003 11:57 pm

Swiss Initiative for Slavery-Reparations

Post by Ezili Danto » Thu Dec 28, 2006 2:22 pm

'Motion' (Private member's parliamentary move) submitted in the lower house of the Swiss Parliament on 19th December 2006 by Josef Lang, MP for Zug, and 30 co-sponsors: "Swiss Initiatives for Slavery-Reparations"

The Swiss Government is hereby mandated

1) to support within the UN moves for the plan of action adopted in Durban 2001 to be reviewed, and to launch, together with other "minor slavery- and colonial nations" such as Sweden, Denmark and Germany (Brandenburg-Prussia), an initiative aiming at reparations for slavery and the slave-trade by all those having participated in and profited from that crime against humanity;

2) to support, Switzerland being a country with a slavery-past, the implementation of the UN-resolution "Commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade", and particularly to take measures towards a dignified commemoration of 25 March 2007 in Switzerland (points 1 and 3 of the resolution) as well as to secure the integration of the history of slavery and the slave-trade and its consequences into the Swiss educational system and its school curricula (point 2);

3) to offer its good services towards a consensual solution in the conflict over the restitution of the so-called "independence-debt" extorted from Haiti by France in 1825.

The Swiss government have recognised and expressed their deep regret over the fact that Switzerland participated in slavery and the slave-trade, denounced as a "crime against humanity" in Durban. Moreover the government has pronounced themselves in favour of critical research into acts of injustice committed in the era of colonialism and slavery, as well as offering Switzerland's intermediary services in conflicts between third-world countries and former colonial powers. It is now time to live up to that promise, bearing in mind that is not only positions of African, Caribbean and Latin American governments that have to be considered, but also those of a broad variety of civil society organisations which have been pressing for reparation and reconciliation for decades.

Finally, it must be emphasised that, in the process of mediating between Zurich and St.Gallen in the litigation on robbed cultural goods, the government has been able to gain valuable experience as to how – following the steps of "truth, reparation, reconciliation" as postulated by Nigerian Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka – historical injustice can be addressed, even in a case that dates further back (1712!) than the majority of those slavery activities by European-American and Swiss players which are relevant to possible reparations.

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