The International Humanist Party on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade: “The Greatest Genocide of mankind”.
In December 2007, the UN General Assembly declared March 25 the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Over a period of more than ten centuries, the African continent was affected by the slave trade in several directions: via the Red Sea, the southern Indian Ocean, the Sahara and the Atlantic Ocean. Before the first arrival of Europeans, slavery had already been institutionalized in many regions, allowing incoming European traders to take advantage of an already existing market.
According to some sources, for three centuries, between 1550 and 1850, about 100 million Africans were driven into slavery by European colonialism. It is estimated that in the 16th century only a quarter of all slaves who left Africa did so as part of the Atlantic slave trade.
But when the native Americans were decimated, more than 15 million Africans were forcibly taken from their homeland and taken to the" New World". It is estimated that the Transatlantic trade in the 17th century accounted for about two thirds of the total African slave trade.
It is impossible to find out the exact number of Africans who were forcibly brought to the American continent, because there were millions of people who died in the process and lost their freedom and status as human beings by being hunted, tortured, imprisoned and degraded in order to make them mere objects and commodities.
Slavery on such a frightening scale means not only the violent abduction and inhumane treatment of the black African population, the destruction of their culture, villages and families and their violent expropriation, but also murders of men, women and children, indiscriminate torture, rape and appalling living conditions on the slave ships and on the plantations to which most of them were brought.
On arrival at the ports of shipment, the slaves were chained up, very poorly fed, and were taken to the slave ships, which were designed to “store"hundreds of people in the holds. It is estimated that about 30 percent of them died on the voyage, others were blinded by infections and yet others were thrown overboard.
The conditions of the transported persons on their journeys, which lasted between two and three months (depending on the port of departure and destination), were deplorable. They were housed below deck with rings around their necks and shackles, six at a time.
The diet was poor, the hygienic conditions were appalling, there were numerous diseases, the ventilation was inadequate and the smell and heat unbearable. The situation worsened when ships had more slaves on board than were allowed.
When the cargo (the persons) arrived in America, it was examined and cleared before leaving the ship; the slaves who had survived the voyage suffered the agony of being branded on the right arm, shoulders or back, whether they were children, adolescents, adult women or men; this was a form of control to ensure that the import was legitimized by the law. The slaves were then locked up in dark and unsanitary barracks and tied up with chains until they were sold.
The purchase and sale of the newly arrived “goods” (persons) took place in numerous port cities of America. At the beginning of the 19th century it was customary to offer the slaves in the context of newspaper advertisements. Once they were sold, they had to make their way to their destination again.
In order to make them his / her credible property, the slaves were frequently re-branded by the new owner. On the plantations and in the accommodations, they were usually treated ruthlessly. And their reproduction ensured that they were exploited for generations, which usually destroyed any family and cultural ties that they had.
Although they were punished for any disobedience in order to ensure control, many of them rebelled, fled, and built fences and camps against which the owners proceeded with armed men and fighting dogs to deter the other slaves in this system of terror and human humiliation.
In general, the victims of slavery fulfilled an essential function for capitalism and its development, which was decisively supported by the process of colonization of America, which was carried out by plundering wealth. The importance of the Atlantic slave trade for the world economy was extremely large and affected all European economic sectors, even in countries that did not have colonies or slaves. The costs in terms of human life and suffering were obvious and frightening, and the ominous legacy continues to resonate to this day in most societies in Africa, Europe and the New World.
It is clear that this process, which brought with it the most gigantic genocide in the history of mankind and drove capitalist development, had nothing to do with the conditions related to “freedom, equality and fraternity” proclaimed in the French Revolution and which directly inspired the Haitian Revolution; this revolution suffocated in another genocide, which in turn inspired various uprisings and struggles against slavery and racism and for abolitionism.
In 1981, Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery. It is estimated that in this country today about one percent of the population still lives in slavery.
Nearly two centuries after overcoming the horrific system of slavery, people with enslaved ancestors are still confronted with structural discrimination and segregation that are deeply rooted in racism, colonialism, and slavery. The consequences of these offences continue to this day and continue to cause damage to our societies and institutions.
The Dictionary of New Humanism states:
“( … ) Slavery contradicts the legal consciousness and conscience of humanity today, which is reflected in the documents of the UN. Humanism has always condemned slavery as a shameful institution that contradicts human freedom and dignity.”
The experiences of people of African descent are often overshadowed by data from the general population, thereby obscuring patterns of systemic inequalities and making their plight and concerns virtually invisible to policy makers. Overcoming the systemic racism caused by slavery is fundamental to creating a world with universal rights and opportunities for all people.
Today, slavery is essentially seen as a fact of the past and has thus established itself in the Western general understanding of globalized capitalism, but it is not so. For example, the Brazilian government passed a law against slavery in 1995. Since then, 54,000 people have been freed from forced labour. At the end of 2017, President Michel Temer, a leading proponent of anti-humanism, tried to defuse the term “modern slavery” by removing the criterion of forced economic dependence from the definition. However, thanks to local and international protests, his malicious intentions were prevented.
Slavery still manifests itself today in many forms, such as forced labor, debt obligations, migrant labor, human trafficking, child trafficking, forced marriage, trafficking in women, child labor and child slavery.
Humanists see it as essential for overcoming all remnants of slavery to place man as a central value in the center and thus to realize what is stated in the ‘Humanist Document':
“The slow and constant progress of mankind demands the transformation of nature and society by ending the animal and violent seizure of man by man. At this moment, human prehistory will become a truly human history. Until then, only man himself can be the central value – with all that he has realized, with all his freedom.”
Humanists are aware of the risk posed by the fact that large groups of people are economically dependent because their basic needs (food, housing, health, education, etc.) are often not satisfied; they condemn this and are committed to building a system that stands in the sense of integral development of humanity and its quality of life.
The ‘International Humanist Party’ believes that in view of the consequences of these massive human rights violations, which constituted ‘crimes against humanity’ and which took place during the period of slavery, colonialism and wars of conquest, as well as in view of the systemic plundering of mineral resources and natural resources which they have suffered and which continues to this day, mechanisms of reparation and compensation must be created. These demands should apply both to the victims of racism and slavery and to countries that observe how their resources obtained under unjust treaties do not lead to an improvement in the living conditions of their inhabitants.
Appropriate ways must be found to restore the dignity of the victims and to provide for compensation and compensation measures: textbooks that accurately depict historical events, memorials and truth commissions, and independent mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of remedies and compensation mechanisms.