Remembering Victims of Slavery

11 April 2014

Participants at the event

More than 15 million men, women, and children died as a result of the global slave trade over a period of more than 300 years, but those victims are now being honoured throughout the world, and the achievements of their descendants celebrated, thanks to a 17 December 2007 resolution by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Here in Indonesia, the UN's International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was celebrated for the first time on 11 April, in the building that most represents solidarity between Asian and African nations -- the Gedung Konferensi Asia-Africa, home to the 1955 Conference in Bandung that gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement. 

The UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Jakarta, in partnership with Parahyangan Catholic University, and with the collaboration of the UN agency for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), organized a film screening and discussion to mark the observation. 

Speakers included Muhammad Anshor, Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia; Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO Representative to Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste; Wahyu Susilo, an activist for the rights of migrant workers; and Sylvia Yazid, a Lecturer in the Department of International Relations of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at Universitas Parahyangan.

Nearly 100 participants in the audience included lecturers and students from universities in Bandung, prominent members of the diplomatic community, and representatives from national media organizations (Kompas, Galamedia, The Jakarta Globe, and Tempo).

The event opened with a screening of the trailer for this year’s Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, “12 Years as Slave” , followed by opening remarks from Michele Zaccheo, Director of UNIC Jakarta. “Unless we can understand the history of the slave trade, and of efforts to abolish it, we cannot truly understand the present,” Zaccheo said, referring both to the diaspora of descendants of slaves across the globe and to the nearly 21 million people who are estimated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to be living in conditions of forced labour today.

The video documentary by UNESCO, ‘Slave Routes: The Soul of Resistance’ – part of UNESCO’s Slave Routes Project, whose 20th anniversary is being observed this year, was also screened. 

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Muhammad Anshor delivered remarks centering on how slavery can still occur anywhere in many forms – out of conditions of poverty and marginalization. “What we can do now is to take the lessons from the past and take real action so those horrible events in the past are not repeated,” he said.  He added that fostering solidarity among people plays and important role in combating slavery.


Wahyu Susilo spoke about how the Bandung Declaration of 1955 could be seen as an outcome of the long fight against slavery. “But slavery is still happening,” he said, “slavery is not yet history.” Problems of slavery and forced labour affect migrant workers, and victims of human trafficking syndicates, whose condition is sometimes not much different from what happened historically, Wahyu said. 

A number of cases of Indonesian migrant workers abroad have raised issues related to their protection. Many do not have balanced working hours or fair pay, have their passports withheld by their employer, and a number of them are abused physically and sexually – a form of exploitation that can be referred to as “modern slavery”.

“New forms of slavery persist to this day,” said Hubert Gijzen from UNESCO. The ILO estimates that approximately 56 percent of the victims of modern slavery are in Asia and the Pacific region. He also referred to the “grey area” between slavery and exploitation of migrant workers. 

Sylvia Yazid focused on the need to strengthen procedures for migrants to find legal avenues to pursue their ambitions to work abroad, so that they do not fall into hands of criminal organizations. “Migrant workers help our country,” she said.

International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

26 March 2014

UNIC Antananarivo celebrated the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade on 25 March. The global theme this year was “Victory over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond”. 

A cine-debate for university students was held after the screening of the film “Coeur de Lion”, preceded by “The Ark of Return”, a UN In Action programme produced by United Nations TV on the Design for the Permanent Memorial to the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. 

After the screenings, the UNIC National Information Officer (NIO) presented the background of the Remembrance and raised the issues of slavery from Haiti’s Independence to the abolition of slavery. She also contextualized the issues of modern forms of slavery, discrimination and racism. The students’ comments included the pervading mental slavery in the form of neocolonialism. 

The NIO recalled the values of tolerance, self-assertion and responsibility-taking to combat mental slavery and discrimination. 

In addition, the two films were also screened on 26 March for UN Club members which was followed by a presentation on slavery. The youth debated more on contemporary forms of slavery such as underemployment, child labor, gender-based violence, ethnic discrimination and human trade and trafficking. 

Commemorating Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

24 March 2014

As part of the celebration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, observed every year on 25th March, and the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the project "The Slave Route", several activities were in the program of this event in Rabat.

The commemoration of the Day began at the headquarters of Rabat-Agdal University (Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Economique et Sociales Rabat-Agdal), which hosted on 24 March a conference on the theme "Slavery to the Proof of Time", organized jointly by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Rabat, the UNESCO cluster office for Maghreb and the Rabat Agdal University (Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Economique et Sociales Rabat-Agdal).

After the opening session by the Dean of the Rabat-Agdal University, the video "Slave Routes : A Global Vision" was screened. The conference was led by four university professors: M. Miloud Loukili, political scientist, professor at Rabat-Agdal University who moderated the conférence; M. Khalid Chgraoui , historian, anthropologist, professor at the Institute of African Studies, who spoke on the topic of «  slavery throughout the history and anthropology « ; Ms. Boutaina Bensalem, PhD in anthropology, who shared with the audience the point of view of a political scientist, and finally, M. Zakaria Abouddahab, Vice- Dean of Rabat-Agdal University who gave a speech entitled "Morocco the Africans, Morocco Atlantic: New ways, new horizons".

The conference was followed by a discussion with the audience who shared various reflections and proposals with the speakers and organizers. Following this, a group of students prepared a draft declaration against slavery which was shared with the participants.

The conference was concluded by a musical beat of drums provided by 2 Ivorian students and a Malagch student.

In the afternoon, about thirty students from Lycée Hassan II participated in a drawing and painting competition on the theme of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, under the supervision of professors of plastic Arts. Also, twenty students attended an information session on the Slave Route and slavery. Both events were organized by UNIC and UNESCO. At the end of the competition, the first three winners received trophies from the organizers.

Se souvenir des victimes de l'esclavage et de la traite transatlantique des esclaves

24 March 2014

Dans le cadre de la célébration de la Journée internationale de commémoration des victimes de l’esclavage et de la traite transatlantique des esclaves, observée chaque année le 25 mars, et de la célébration du 20ème anniversaire du projet « La route de l’esclave », plusieurs activités ont meublé le programme de cette célébration à Rabat.

La commémoration de la journée a commencé au siège de la Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Economique et Sociales Rabat-Agdal, qui a abrité le 24 mars 2014 une conférence-débat sur la thématique « L’esclavage à l’épreuve du temps », organisée conjointement par le Centre d’Information des Nations Unies pour le Maroc, le Bureau Multi-pays de l’UNESCO pour le Maghreb et la Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Economiques et Sociale Rabat-Agdal.

Après les mots d’ouverture du Doyen de la Faculté, du CINU et du Bureau de l’UNESCO, la vidéo « Routes de l’esclave : une vision globale » fut projetée. Cette conférence a été animée par quatre professeurs universitaires : M. Miloud Loukili, politologue, professeur à la Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Economiques et Sociales Rabat-Agdal a assuré la modération ; M. Khalid Chgraoui, historien, anthropologue, professeur à l’Institut des Etudes Africaines, a abordé la thématique de l’esclavage au vue de l’histoire et de l’anthropologie ; Mme Boutaina BENSALEM, docteure en anthropologie, a partagé avec l’assistance son regard de politologue ; et finalement, M. Zakaria Abouddahab, vice-doyen de la Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Economiques et Sociales Rabat-Agdal dont l’intervention a pour intitulé est « Le Maroc l’Africain, le Maroc l’Atlantique : nouvelles voies, nouveaux horizons ».

Cette conférence a été suivie d’un débat avec l’assistance (étudiants et professeurs) ayant partagée diverses réflexions, et propositions avec les intervenants et les organisateurs. A l’issue de cet évènement, un groupe d’étudiants a rédigé un projet de déclaration contre l’esclavage et en a donné lecture.

Cette conférence-débat fut clôturée par un spectacle musical de battement de tambours assuré par 2 étudiants ivoiriens et un étudiant malgache.

L’après-midi, une trentaine de lycéens du Lycée Hassan II ont participé à un concours de dessin et de peinture sur la thématique de l’esclavage et de la traite transatlantique, sous la supervision de professeurs d’Arts plastiques. Aussi, une vingtaine d’élèves ont assisté à une session d’information sur La route de l’esclave et l’esclavage. Ces deux actions ont été organisées par le CINU et l’UNESCO. Les trois premiers gagnants du concours ont reçu des trophées de la part des organisateurs.