With the renewed movement against systemic racism all over the world, the question of reparations for slavery must be addressed. We checked out the exact wording of LALIT’s 1995 “Reparations for Slavery” petition addressed to the Mauritian State (copies to three States that colonized Mauritius), to see how well the petition has stood the test of time over twenty-five years. Judge for yourself.
“Petition addressed to the Head of State of Mauritius,copies to Governments of Netherlands, France & Great Britain,the three States which colonized Mauritius,
“Bearing in mind the immense scale of the human suffering caused by slavery and the vast scale of the social destructivity of this system, and given the universal denunciation of slavery, and
“Bearing in mind the fact that there are some nation sates whose owning classes benefitted directly in the form of capital accumulation from slavery, and still stand advantaged by the initial riches made through slavery,
“Bearing in mind that there are some nation states whose working classes suffered directly from the confiscation of their means of subsistence and the annihilation of their social economy as a result of the ravages of slavery, and suffered directly from the humiliation and degradation of this system,
“Bearing in mind that the only compensation that has hitherto been paid by States responsible for upholding and allowing slavery, is that compensation paid to slave owners in respect of their so-called ‘property rights’ having been infringed, we, the undersigned,
“Knowing that the quasi-totality of Mauritian working class organizations have signed this petition, sent to the President of Mauritius and three heads of state [of colonizer countries],
“Knowing that the petition has been widely signed by peoples’ organizations from countries all over the world and already sent to the President and three heads of state,
“Call on States whose peoples suffered the direct effects of slavery, to put in claims to those States responsible for slavery, for material and moral damages, and we, the undersigned,
“Call on those States responsible for slavery to pay the damages claimed, and to pay these damages not from the usual government revenue, which includes working peoples’ direct and indirect taxes, but from a special ‘anti-slavery levy’ to be levied on the propertied classes and their companies and corporations, and we
“Call on the States claiming damages to create a special ‘post-slavery fund’ to be used for health and housing programmes in poor and working class neighbourhood and areas, and for the educational advancement, in its broadest sense, of all poor and working class neighbourhoods and areas, but without any recall to the perpetuation of race or ethnic classification of individuals, and we, the undersigned,
“By our signature, I/we endorse this petition being circulated by LALIT demanding that the government of the Republic of Mauritius, in the spirit of the above arguments, prepare and submit a claim for compensation for the material and moral damage suffered by the working people of Mauritius through the slavery system from 1568 to 1835 and in the decades following the liberation of slaves and until today.”
Signed by hundreds of Mauritian organization including trade union federations, village councils, women's associations, municipal councillors, Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), and workers' organizations. Also signed by dozens of international organizations, like union federations in India and the US, women's organisations in Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, political organisations in South Africa and Brasil, doctors' and lawyers' associations in Greece, academics in South Africa, Namibia, Sweden and India.