PM Says Permanent Memorial at UN is Great and Fitting Tribute
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the Permanent Memorial to the victims of slavery at the United Nations (UN), is a great and fitting tribute to “our African ancestors”.
She told the audience at Monday’s (September 23) unveiling of the winning model at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, that they paid for “our freedom with their lives”.
“There can be no greater or fitting tribute than a memorial to honour our African ancestors who were forcibly removed from their homeland and taken to foreign lands of the Caribbean and the Americas. They were beaten, they were whipped, they were raped and thousands of them paid the ultimate price,” the Prime Minister said.
“Their blood, sweat and tears watered the sugar plantations across our region. Some led rebellions and were tortured and handed. They paid the price for our freedom with their lives,” she added.
The Prime Minister said Jamaica has been pleased to lead the initiative started in 2007, to erect a permanent memorial at the UN to honour the victims of slavery.
The winning model, ‘The Ark of Return’, which is to be erected as a Permanent Memorial to the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. The piece was selected from an initial 310 entries by an international panel of five judges. The trust fund established to build the Permanent Memorial has to date raised US$1.4 million.
“Let me express appreciation to those who have made generous contributions to the Permanent Memorial Fund. I also congratulate and commend the artist and winner of the design competition. The design will undoubtedly serve to inspire the many persons who view the Memorial and remind us to never allow such crimes against humanity ever again,” Mrs. Simpson Miller emphasized.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said the fight against slavery and the enactment of the Slavery abolition Act of 1833, which ended slavery throughout the British colonies, including Jamaica, speaks to the need to combat injustice, protect and promote human rights, and strive for a more inclusive and responsible society, which respects the equal rights of all.
The Prime Minister is attending the General Debate of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. She will make her presentation on Saturday, September 28.
Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Courtenay Rattray, noted that more than 300 artists entered the competition.
He announced that ‘The Ark of Return’, done by Mr. Rodney Leon, was the winning design.
The Trust Fund, which was established in March 2009 to build the Permanent Memorial, has so far received donations of US$1.4 million.
The unveiling was attended by several high level UN dignitaries and world leaders, including the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), His Excellency Mr. John Ashe; United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and Antiguan Prime Minister, Hon. Baldwin Spencer.