The new Memorial will be a permanent voice to those who had no say in their destinies: Dr. John AsheListen /
"We are gathered here today to collectively remember that the tragic era of the transatlantic slave trade marked a traumatic period felt primarily and painfully in the history of the peoples of African descent, General Assembly President Dr. John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda said at the announcement of the winning design of an international competition for the Permanent Memorial in Honour of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
He said this most ghastly period in human history speaks to the greed, ignorance, and racial prejudices that existed at the time and sadly, which still exist in many places today, albeit in somewhat diverse forms.
“This year- 2013- is the 206th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. Today, as we unveil the winning design of the Permanent Memorial honouring the victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, we must not forget that human decency, bravery and ingenuity led to the breaking of the shackles of slavery and burdens of bigotry. Today, we once again honour those powerful human truths that wherever peoples are oppressed and crippled by discrimination, there are, and should be peoples who stand up to the oppressors, and speak up against discrimination.”
Ambassador Ashe noted that there is a truism that says that those who do not remember the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. He said some may wish not to commemorate the suffering of the victims of slavery, preferring instead that the collective memories of humankind be sanitized and purged of such memories.
“Our United Nations, which represents our shared aspiration for global peace and security is a fitting home for this new memorial. This memorial will be a permanent voice to those who for more than 400 years had no say in the fulfilment of their own destinies. And it will serve as a reminder that the human family must never repeat the mistakes of its past. But this memorial is not only about the past. Just as our UN represents the promise of peace, this memorial will also allow us, many of whom are descendants of slaves, to look toward the future with new promise. We are the living hope of our ancestors — the dream that they envisioned would one day come to pass. This memorial will not only mark a period in history, but will serve as a marker of the distance we have travelled and as a reminder to embrace the oneness of the human family and a future that benefits the whole of humankind.”
President of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly Dr. John Ashe.
Speakers at the event included: the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova; and Chairman of the Permanent Memorial Committee, H.E. Mr. Courtenay Rattray.
The Prime Minister of Jamaica, H.E. Ms. Portia Simpson Miller and other Heads of Government, as well as film director Lee Daniels also attended the the event. This is Donn Bobb reporting.