Statements delivered in 2005 were heard and responded to by the UN.
Written and Oral Statements to the United Nations in 2005
Table of Contents
1.Oral Statement to the 57th Session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, August 2005
2. Oral Statement to the 11th Session of the Working Group on Minorities, May 2005
3. Oral Statement to the 61st Session of the Commission on Human Rights, April 2005
4. Written Statement to the 61st Session of the Commission on Human Rights, April 2005
Oral Statement to the 57th Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights., August 2005, Agenda Item 5C: Prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities
Speaker: Mr. Silis Muhammad
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Several years ago, I was questioned by a young lady from Europe. She asked, “Isn’t it rather naive on your part, for you to come to the house of the same people who enslaved you, seeking justice?” I responded, “I believe that there are people in the UN who know what is right, and I have faith.”
The Working Group on Minorities, inquiring into their area of expertise, found there was not a place established within the UN that Afrodescendants could fit, because Afrodescendants are coming back to life absent their mother tongue, original culture and religion. The Working Group on Minorities began seeking to find a way for us.
Under another mandate, following the 2001 Durban World Conference, the UN appointed a Working Group on People of African Descent.
There is a vast difference between Afrodescendants and people of African descent. While we enjoy the same comely color, we both view ourselves as being different. People of African descent still have their original identity: their mother tongue, culture, and religion, while Afrodescendants mimic the mother tongue, culture, and religion of our slavemaster’s children. Our identity, our dignity, and thus our essence, was taken. We can put on all the African clothes we want, and we still don’t have our identity.
We, collectively, are rendered a stateless people by the depravation of these most precious human rights, as defined by Article 27 of the ICCPR. People of African descent can enjoy the comfort of their tribal kinships and the protection of their governments. We, Afrodescendants, cannot. We have only the UN to look to in the hopes of protection.
The Working Group on Minorities is instrumental in bringing us together – some 250 million souls who have been left out: in existence, yet unobserved by the UN but for the Working Group on Minorities.
The Working Group on Minorities also views us, Afrodescendants, as being different from people of African descent. Is this a contributing reason why the Working Group on Minorities is now under attack?
In La Ceiba, Honduras, in 2002, the Working Group on Minorities orchestrated a seminar in which Afrodescendant leaders from 19 countries chose the term, Afrodescendants, as an identity. Since this date, we have been asking the UN to recognize our self-chosen identity and the Working Group on Minorities has recognized us. Afrodescendants enjoy a permanent place on the agenda of the Working Group on Minorities. Is this a contributing reason why this working group is under attack?
On behalf of Afrodescendants, we recommend that the Working Group on Minorities be given more power, not less. We recommend that our self-chosen identity, Afrodescendants, be recognized by the entire UN, and by the governments under which we live. We further recommend sanctions against all Governments that have deprived us, for every day we have been so denied human rights.
Oral Statement to the 11th Session of the Working Group on Minorities (2005)
Statement of Silis Muhammad, read by Ishmael Abdul-Salaam
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
All For Reparations and Emancipation AFRE is an international NGO in consultative status. We are concerned with the lingering effects of slavery on Afrodescendant minorities throughout the Americas Region and Slavery Diaspora.
We, the Afrodescendants, have been identified by the majority population as sambo, negro, colored, and African American, among other names. We are unlike other people of African descent who live today in different parts of the world. They still have their identity: their mother tongue, culture and religion, and their tribal kinships. They can enjoy the protection and assistance of their national authorities, if they so choose. But we, the Afrodescendants, who are rendered a stateless people by the deprivation of these most precious rights: the enjoyment of our mother tongue, culture and religion, have only the UN to look to in the hope of protection.
When we first encountered the United nations and the Working Group on Minorities we said, “We do not have collective human rights as defined by the UN.” The Working Group on Minorities said to us, “We will have to find out where you fit.”
Through the years the Working Group on Minorities organized several seminars that culminated in the 2002 seminar in LaCeiba, Honduras. In LaCeiba, on March 24, we chose for ourselves the term Afrodescendants as an identity to be recognized by the UN.
The Working Group on Minorities not only brought us together, it is the vital instrument that helped us to arrive at this identity, Afrodescendants. When we reported that our mother tongue, culture and religion were forcibly taken and we questioned whether or not we had human rights, the Working Group on Minorities responded. This Working Group on Minorities is instrumental in igniting the torch of our definitive identity. For us, the Working Group on Minorities is the soul, if we could use that word, of the UN. It has brought together 250 million souls who otherwise would have been left out: in existence, but unobserved by the UN.
We have pledged this name: Afrodescendants. In doing this we invite the hopes of the protection of the UN. We, the Afrodescendants, appear as a newly born baby and the Working Group on Minorities is our breath of life. Now, if the Working Group on Minorities is shut down, we will not survive. Both the UN, and we, will fall short.
In order to be free to live in dignity, we must have our own destiny. This cannot happen without reparations (otherwise stated, restoration), which begins with the full recognition of the UN and the governments under which we live. Recognition must be followed by compensation for them having deprived us of human rights during the lingering effects of slavery.
Our destiny is intertwined in our diverse governments and it should not be. Afrodescendants have a common destiny and they should be intertwined with each other.
We recommend that the Working Group on Minorities assist us in our efforts to have our self-chosen identity recognized by the entire UN and by the governments under which we live. We want Freedom to live in dignity.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Footnote: After the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.S. Government, in particular, acted against us with knowledge. They accepted a duty to inform us of human rights, and they not only failed to inform us, they set in motion ongoing tactics to prevent our obtaining human rights.
Oral Statement to the 61st Commission on Human Rights (2005) Agenda Item 14 b Minorities
Note: This statement was prepared to be delivered by Mr. Silis Muhammad, but it was not delivered orally due to a schedule change of the CHR. It was delivered to the Members in written form by the Secretariat.
We, the Afrodescendant people, living in the position of minorities throughout the Americas Region and Slavery Diaspora, want to be recognized on the agenda, or in a decision or resolution of the Commission on Human Rights. We, the formerly so-called African Americans have chosen for ourselves an identity: Afrodescendants.
Leaders of Afrodescendants, from 19 countries, met in the year 2002 in La Ceiba, Honduras, under the supervision of the UN Working Group on Minorities. We have often praised and thanked this Working Group for they, in their wisdom, knew that we had no human rights. They have recognized us and sought diligently to help us. In La Ceiba we chose Afrodescendants as our internal recognized identity, for we have these kinships and uniqueness, to wit: we are a dead, a stateless people, or civilly dead to the knowledge of self: and have been, or are, purposely, being kept so, especially by the United States.
Due to slavery, we are 400 years removed from the land in which we lived, Africa. In the lingering effects of slavery, we are rendered a stateless people.
We are now experiencing ethnogenesis. At present, we Afrodescendants, numbering 250 million, have no collective protective human rights. Since, as a people, we are not recognized as citizens of any country, we call upon member States of the UN to grant us recognition and the protection of the UN.
We wish to do what the Scriptural prodical son did: get up from the savage condition in which we have been forced to live, through assimilation, and return to our home to be welcomed by our brothers and by our father. The world knows that we originally came from Arabia: all of us. It is the home of civilization and we were there at the origin of civilization.
The doors cannot close upon us, the Afrodescendants. We are an element of the earth, born from the beginnings of civilization, and all people know that of us. We exist. We were scattered through no choice of our own, but through the European slave trade which deemed us savages.
Will the Commission on Human Rights recognize us?
Written Statement to the 61st Session of the Commission on Human Rights (2005), Agenda Item 14: Specific groups and individuals: (b) Minorities
We, the Afrodescendant minorities, formerly the so-called African Americans, throughout the Americas Region and Slavery Diaspora, have been attending and intervening at the Commission on Human Rights for eight years. We have been praying for our most basic human rights: our language, culture, and religion; and, we have been repeatedly asking for the recognition of our self-chosen name, Afrodescendants. The Working Group on Minorities has recognized us, the Afrodescendant minorities, suffering the lingering effects of slavery. We seek the recognition of the entire United Nations.
We are unlike other people of African descent who live today in different parts of the world. They still have their identity: their mother tongue, culture, religion, and their tribal kinships. They can enjoy the protection and assistance of their national authorities, if they so choose. But we, who were rendered a stateless people by slavery, were deprived of all of these most precious rights, and are denied and deprived still of these rights: the right to enjoy our mother tongue, culture and religion. We cannot reclaim our grandparents: DNA testing can only group us with a particular tribe in Africa. Thus, we are orphans in the earth to this day. Four hundred years of forced mixed breeding during slavery and its lingering effects have rendered us a stateless people, unprotected by human rights law.
Due in part to the efforts of the Working Group on Minorities, for the first time in the history of our sojourn we who are descendants of enslaved Africans collectively took on the identity of Afrodescendants at La Ceiba, Honduras in March, 2002.
The Working Group on Minorities has placed Afrodescendants in their reports and on their agenda as Afrodescendant minorities. We submit this as a working definition of Afrodescendants: peoples who 1) were forcibly dispossessed of their homeland, Africa; 2) were transported to the Americas and Diaspora for the purpose of enslavement; 3) and were subjected to slavery; 4) were subjected to forced mixed breeding and rape; 5) have experienced, through force, the loss of mother tongue, culture and religion; 6) and have experienced racial discrimination due to lost ties or partially lost ties to our original identity.
We have collectively given name to ourselves: Afriodescendants. We are defining ourselves. Will the Commission on Human Rights acknowledge our decisions and use our chosen name in its documents? Will the Commission on Human Rights fix the time when it considers minorities on its agenda as is done with the Indigenous Peoples, out of consideration for our economic condition? Afrodescendant leaders are in a comparable position with the leaders of Indigenous Peoples.
The United Nations is perceived to be the zenith body of law and order in the world. What other body of law can we call upon? We call upon you, the Commission on Human Rights. The Commission on Human Rights has a more respected voice than do we, the minority. As ex-slaves, having experienced civil death and ethnogenesis, what more can we ask, or of whom can we ask that our self-chosen name, Afrodescendants, be used by the Commission on Human Rights, and that the class of persons fitting the description of minority, have a fixed time to speak to the Commission on Human Rights.
We sincerely appreciate the decisions made by the Commission on Human Rights on our behalf, and we respectfully ask the Commission to consider our recommendation: that the Commission on Human Rights use the term Afrodescendants and the the Commission on Human Rights fix the time on their agenda when minority issues will be discussed out of consideration for Afrodescendants, who, as human rights scholars well know, are today among the poorest of the poor.