International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition: History and Significance

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During the imperialist regimes run by the colonial powers of Europe, slave trade was a cruel yet common practice. (Representational image: Shutterstock)

During the imperialist regimes run by the colonial powers of Europe, slave trade was a cruel yet common practice. (Representational image: Shutterstock)

This United Nations designated day is intended to remember and honour the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples who were dehumanised by the cruel practice or systemic racism.

August 23 is marked as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. During the imperialist regimes run by the colonial powers of Europe, slave trade was a cruel yet common practice. Through this practice, a section of the world and its peoples, mainly from Africa and Asia were reduced to mere slaves who were bought and sold and transported to colonial settlements in Haiti, Caribbean, and other parts of the world.

History

The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is commemorated on August 23 because of a significant event that took place surrounding this date. Santo Domingo, which is modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was an erstwhile colonial settlement of France in the eighteenth century. The days of August 22 and August 23, 1791 saw the start of the uprising that would play a vital role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade led by the European colonial powers. The uprising inspired the Haitian Revolution which was led by the Black and the mixed race people against the colonial rulers.

Significance

This United Nations designated day is intended to remember and honour the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples who were dehumanised by the cruel practice or systemic racism. According to the UN, the day should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy. This day should always remind people to continue to analyse and criticise such practices that may transform into modern forms of slavery and exploitation.

It should be remembered that years after it became independent from slavery and colonial rule, Haiti and Dominican Republic continue to face internal crisis. Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated earlier in July leaving the country in a state of civil war, while on August 15 it was rocked by a devastating earthquake that has killed 2,189 people so far.

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