|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS HE WILL ‘BREAK THE SILENCE, BEAT THE DRUM’ TO COMMEMORATE
DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FOR VICTIMS OF SLAVERY, TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, in New York, 25 March:
This year, a son of Africa was sworn in as President of the United States.
For many, it marked a milestone on an epic journey that began more than 400 years ago.
Throughout the Americas and the Caribbean, the descendants of history’s greatest forced migration have fought long and hard for justice, assimilation and respect.
That fight continues today.
The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade honours the millions of Africans violently removed from their homelands and cast into slavery.
Estimates vary of how many millions of men and women were transported.
What is not in dispute is the legacy of this vile traffic.
Africa has yet to recover from the ravages of the slave trade or the subsequent era of colonization.
And here in the New World and in Europe and elsewhere, people of African descent still struggle daily against entrenched prejudice that keeps them disproportionately in poverty.
Despite the official abolition of slavery, racism still pollutes our world.
So, too, do contemporary forms of slavery.
These include bonded servitude, forced prostitution and the use of children in warfare and the international drug trade.
It is essential that we speak out loud and clear against such abuses.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
Failure to observe this fundamental principal leads directly to the inhumanity of slavery and the horror of genocide.
Speaking out is the theme of this year’s observance.
It asks us to “Break the Silence, Beat the Drum”.
Since the dawn of humanity in Africa, drums have provided the pulse of our history.
They continue to help us celebrate our common humanity.
Today I will beat the drum.
I urge everyone, everywhere, to beat the drum.
We must proclaim that black or white, man or woman, we are one people.
We can achieve harmony only if we respect each other, rejoice in our diversity, and work together for our common goals.
* *** *For information media • not an official record