Statements delivered in 2001 were heard and responded to by the UN.
Documents presented to the World Conference Against Racism in order of presentation:
1) Oral Statement of Mr. Silis Muhammad to the Plenary Session of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, September 2001
1) Written Statement to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, 2001
1) World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
Oral intervention under provisional agenda theme 5:
Provision of effective remedies, recourse, redress, (compensatory) and other measures
at the national, regional and international level
We recommend a forum for the African American people: those who, due to our merciful parents, are the descendants of slaves, throughout North America, Central and South America, and the Diaspora. We recommend that a trust fund be established for activities under this forum, funded by all governments in which we are domiciled, or by any government or person[s] sympathetic to our quest for human rights.
We did not come to the Americas willingly, and we did not come as Christians, speaking English, Spanish, Portuguese or French. We are all from a common territory, Africa, where we are from many tribes who spoke many languages. The Indigenous Americans, who spoke many languages, and who were colonized, are now receiving reparations and should be receiving full recognition as peoples. We African Americans want to be restored, and recognized, and this is a form of reparations which can be examined and defined more completely in a forum. We are lost from our origins in Africa. Four hundred years of slavery, coupled with forced breeding between slaves and the slave masters, produced a people who have lost more than their independent character. It produced a people whose children are lost from their identity: mother tongue, religion and culture. We African Americans, who are the victims of slavery, will not mortgage the future of our generations to come.
For the past four years the UN Working Group on Minorities has been hard at work to find out where we fit, and to help us obtain a UN recognized identity. If my humble opinion may serve any use, let the name which identifies African Americans in the UN be "LOST FOUND Peoples." There is no question that we were lost, and that the Working Group on Minorities has been trying to find a place where we fit.
We urgently recommend that the World Conference Against Racism declare a decade to consider our issues, including whether "LOST FOUND Peoples" is the term that best identifies us: as at present, we have no UN collective human rights.
2) Written Statement to the World Conference Against Racism,
Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
All For Reparations and Emancipation (AFRE)
Recommendations to the WCAR on the Issue of Reparations
All For Reparations and Emancipation would like to offer recommendations to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
on the issue of reparations as it concerns African-Americans in the U.S. We hope that the World Conference will deem our recommendations worthy of consideration. We are especially hopeful that our recommendation for an inclusive forum for African-Americans (recommendation number three) might be recognized as a peaceful and progressive method of examining the gravity of the lingering effects of slavery, and of examining reparations as a remedy from the victim's viewpoint.
Our organization's leader, Mr. Silis Muhammad, has a long and respected history of African-American grass-root leadership. In 1994, after years of reparations advocacy, he delivered to the United Nations a petition for reparations for African-Americans under Communications Procedure 1503. Since that time he has intervened frequently at the Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the Working Group on Minorities. His issue has been the destruction of the identity of African-Americans, and the resulting fact that African-Americans, collectively, have no human rights. The problems encountered in bringing the gravity of the legacies of plantation slavery to light are extreme because the destruction of identity of African-Americans in the U.S. has been hidden behind the government's "melting pot" image.
African-Americans did not come to America willingly, and they did not come as English speaking Christians, with an Anglo-Saxon culture. African-Americans are a people who for more than 400 years have never questioned that they belong to each other as a group, and yet they have been denied the human rights that other groups enjoy: the right to speak their own language, practice their own religion and enjoy their own culture.
The African-American experience is an example for the civilized world of a holocaust wherein identity is forcibly and perpetually exterminated. With the denial of the 'mother tongue', the slaves were severed from their identity. Throughout their history, the U.S. Government, for the benefit of the white majority, perpetuated the denial by systematically obstructing the attempts of African-Americans to identify themselves. The international community well understands that human dignity is attached to identity. African-Americans in the U.S. have cried out in many ways over many years for the restoration of their dignity as a people, yet their cry has been manipulated by the acts of the U.S. Government. Having been forced to assume the identity of the ruling culture, they are placed in an underling position from which there is no escape. How can they escape from a prison that many cannot even see? Only racism can be seen, and that is but a symptom of the prison. African-Americans are in a grave situation. They need assistance from the United Nations.
Since collectively, African-Americans enjoy no international recognition, one might wonder how charges can be brought under international law to substantiate the claim for reparations. Silis Muhammad has stated, "When we are able to argue about a violation of our human rights, this is our complaint: we are human beings, but to this date and time we are denied the human right of speaking our 'mother tongue' in violation of Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United States of America has ratified."
Silis Muhammad is among the first, if not the first, to bring the issue of African-American reparations to the United Nations, and be heard. He has been consistently intervening before the human rights bodies with arguments on the legal implications of the lingering effects of plantation slavery. The position of AFRE is that we would not look favorably upon an offer of reparations that did not include restoration of collective human rights and international political recognition of African-Americans. It is for this reason that we make the following recommendations to the World Conference Against Racism:
1. We recommend that the World Conference pass a resolution declaring the lingering effects of plantation slavery a crime as related to 'mother tongue'. Such a resolution would affirm that the act of denying the slaves the right to speak the 'mother tongue' is tantamount to a permanent ongoing denial for which there is no remedy.
2. We recommend that the World Conference urge the General Assembly to declare a UN decade to examine, in depth, the lingering effects of plantation slavery in the Americas.
3. We recommend that the World Conference encourage the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to offer UN expert and technical assistance in the organization of an inclusive forum for African-American leaders. The forum would provide an environment wherein the gravity of the current situation can be examined and the extent of damages can be determined. Within such a forum, the victims can discuss and conclude on the means of reparation most beneficial to their restoration individually and as a People.
4. We recommend that the World Conference encourage the governments concerned to voluntarily and immediately establish tax exempt status for slave descendants; a status which will be in effect until both reparations and restoration of human rights have been achieved.