Because of slavery – Jamaica wants billions from Britain

petition in preparation
Because of slavery – Jamaica wants billions from Britain

Undated photo shows a slave auction in Jamaica. In the 17th and 18th centuries people were sold as goods

© Spirit of Africa Museum / Picture Alliance

Jamaica was once an important base for the slave trade. For this the Caribbean state can now demand billions from Great Britain as compensation.

A petition is currently the subject of a heated debate in Jamaica: the Caribbean state plans to claim Arabs from Great Britain. The money was intended to compensate Jamaica for the suffering of the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The petition was started on the island by noted Labor politician Mike Henry. According to several media outlets, it seeks a compensation of £7.6 billion. The former British colony has been independent since 1962, but Jamaica is still part of the Commonwealth. Officially, Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state of the island state.

“It’s high time to make an amendment,” Jamaica’s Culture Minister Olivia Grange is quoted by ITV as saying. “Our African ancestors were dragged from their homeland by force,” the Labor politician insisted. People would have to endure unimaginable atrocities to do forced labor for the British Empire.

Jamaica played an important role in the slave trade under British rule

Jamaica played an important role in the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. According to official estimates, during this period, 600,000 people were displaced from Africa to the island, first by the Spanish and then by the British. The island also served as a transshipment point for slave laborers who had to do hard manual labor, especially in agriculture, throughout the Caribbean.

It is still unclear how much money Jamaica will officially ask for Great Britain and whether these reparations demands have any chance of success. Minister Grange did not want to comment on the final amount of the claim. According to the media, the addressee will then be the queen.

Labor politician Henry derives an amount of £7.6 billion through a historical count. According to him, after the abolition of slavery, the former slave owners received this amount of compensation. According to the news agency Reuters, Great Britain had to take on extremely high debt for this at the time – interest was paid only in 2015.

Henry said, “I demand that the slaves receive the same amount as the slave owners.” The 86-year-old politician said he had been fighting the consequences of slavery all his life, with which the victims were dehumanized. They hope to have money to compensate the descendants of slaves – Jamaica has the majority of the population living there today.

Millions of people have been kidnapped from Africa for forced labor

Britain banned the slave trade in 1807, but this type of forced labor in America did not end until it was completely banned in 1834.

According to the United Nations, in the 17th and 18th centuries, about 15 million people became victims of slavery. For example, in the Caribbean, Africans labored in cotton or banana plantations.

Source: ITV, Reuters

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