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International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

August 23, 2013 - “Through their struggles, their desire for dignity and freedom, slaves contributed to the universality of human rights. We must teach the names of the heroes of this story, because they are the heroes of all humankind.” This was the message of Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO), on the occasion of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, marked on Friday. The UNESCO marks the day every year on August 23, to pay tribute to the women and men who fought this oppression, fostering reflection and debate on a tragedy that has left its mark on the world as it is today. The annual observance is remembrance of an uprising that began on August 23, 1791, in what is now Haiti, which set in motion a series of events which would lead to the eventual abolition of the slave trade in 1807.
“The slave trade is not merely a thing of the past,” Bokova wrote in her message, saying, “It is our history and it has shaped the face of many modern societies, creating indissoluble ties between peoples and continents, and irreversibly transforming the destiny, economy and culture of nations.” Studying this history is tantamount to paying tribute to freedom fighters and to acknowledging their unique contributions to the affirmation of universal human rights. They have set an example for us to continue the struggle for freedom, against racial prejudice inherited from the past and against new forms of slavery that subsist to this day and affect some 21 million people. Bokova invited all governments, civil society organizations and public and private partners to redouble their efforts to transmit this history, wishing it be a source of respect and a universal call for freedom for future generations. “On this Day of Commemoration, UNESCO invites people around the world to remember, to reflect on the consequences of the past on our present, on the new requirements of living together in our multicultural societies and on the fight against contemporary forms of slavery of which millions of human beings are still victims,” Bokova added. (Source: UNESCO)


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