Sunday, April 26, 2009

Racist States Walk Out of Geneva Meeting

Racist states walk out of Geneva meeting

By John Catalinotto
Published Apr 23, 2009 6:54 PM

There have been two “walkouts” from the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Geneva. It is instructive to observe which countries walked out.

The first walkout, led by the United States, was of those countries boycotting the entire conference. These included the U.S., Canada, Israel, New Zealand and Australia—the major settler states that through genocide displaced Indigenous populations from their territory. The Netherlands, the plunderer of Indonesia, and Germany and Italy, which waged murderous wars against barely armed African populations, joined them, as did Poland, now itself a semi-colony.

A few of the largest historical despoilers and plunderers of the colonized world held back from this first walkout. France and Britain, for example, which had divided up most of Africa, the Middle East and large parts of south and east Asia, opted to participate in the conference. This gave them the opportunity to disrupt from inside—which they did a few days into the meetings.

On April 21, when President Ahmadinejad of Iran spoke denouncing the racist actions of the Israeli state against Palestinians, most of the U.N. delegates applauded the speech. It had been only three months since the 22-day-long Israeli slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

However, Britain, France and the rest of the European Union countries present walked out, accusing Ahmadinejad of racism.

Their actions spoke louder than any words of phony concern. There has to be a vigorous struggle against racism precisely because the imperialist powers and their settler states—which for historical reasons are mostly white—have promoted racism against peoples of color and all Indigenous peoples throughout the world in order to better exploit them. The ones who wound up walking out of the conference on racism are exactly those most guilty of racism. And everyone who remained knows it.

Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Page printed from:

Black delegation attends Geneva conference to fight for reparations

By Dolores Cox
Harlem, N.Y.
Published Apr 23, 2009 7:07 PM

A citywide rally and sendoff were held here in mid-April for the December 12th Movement International Secretariat’s delegation to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The conference takes place from April 20-24 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The purpose of the conference is to review the programs of action set forth in the 2001 Durban I World Conference, which called for strong anti-racism legislation, improved education about racism, and better remedies and resources for victims of racism. It will assess the progress made by countries in combating racism and see what remains to be done to obtain justice, compensation and reconciliation.

At the citywide rally, the December 12th Movement’s non-governmental organization delegation and other activist groups reinforced their determination to continue the fight of African people for recognition of the truth and righteousness of their cause. They state they’re going to Geneva to reaffirm the entitlement of the descendants of slavery to reparations, based on the 2001 U.N. Declaration that “slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity and should always have been so, especially the trans-Atlantic slave trade.” As such, there is no statute of limitations regarding reparations.

A documentary video was shown of the “Durban 400,” a group of 400 grassroots political activists, educators and students who, without any governmental support, traveled from the U.S. to Durban, South Africa, in 2001 to demand reparations for crimes committed against African people through the trans-Atlantic slave trade, slavery and colonialism. Through their lobbying efforts, the issue of reparations was placed before the international governmental body.

At the rally, the 2009 delegates expressed pride in victoriously putting reparations on the world stage in Durban and their intention to keep it on the front burner. They say they will be challenging the Obama administration’s attempt to dilute or remove language from the 2001 Declaration that would reverse their victory. The U.S. has threatened to boycott this conference if reference is made to reparations for slavery or, regarding the Palestinian struggle, to equating Zionism to racism. The U.S. is also pressuring other countries to do the same. In 2001, after just 72 hours into the conference, the official U.S. delegation walked out in protest.

Activists throughout the African Diaspora are demanding to know why President Barack Obama is not supporting Durban II. They emphasized that he must be pressured to do the right thing and implement policies to repair the damages and wrongs of U.S. crimes against humanity. For without reparations, it will be impossible for descendants to ever catch up economically, politically, socially or to achieve equality and justice. It was also mentioned that the review conference was supposed to have taken place five years after 2001, not eight years later.

The delegates stressed the importance of all activists becoming agents of change for the Reparations Movement, stepping up the struggle nationally and internationally, and supporting the delegation by holding forums, sending emails, writing letters, making phone calls and so on. While in Geneva, the delegation says it will be shoring up other groups of African peoples and make it known that the U.S. government doesn’t speak for its people on this issue. With U.S. media coverage of the 2001 conference notably absent, it’s important that doesn’t happen this year.

The delegation could only speculate about why there was a change of venue last year from Durban to Geneva. The effects of this change will most likely reduce the number of African delegations able to attend. The fact that Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in Europe will have its impact. Available funding for NGOs was also reduced this year. As a result, the cost is prohibitive for some, while others are going at their own expense.

December 12th Movement representatives reemphasized the destructive nature of capitalism for African peoples. They pointed out that both bankers and slave owners received reparations for the loss of their enslaved African labor. Additionally, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, was forced to pay reparations to their former French colonizers for their freedom from slavery. The activists reiterated that colonialism and slavery were criminal enterprises of the oppressive U.S. capitalist economic system from which so many profited from the suffering of others.

The rally reinforced that U.S. society should take a leading role in the Durban Review conference, put reparations in its historical perspective, and take necessary actions to seek solutions to repair damages. During the rally there was a reminder of a quote from Malcolm X: “Human Rights are your God-given rights that are recognized by all the nations of this earth.”

The rally closed with the affirmation: “Reparations is a right. They stole us, they sold us, they owe us!”

Dolores Cox is an International Action Center organizer.
Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Page printed from:

No comments: