This weekend, a reparations conference will bring together politicians, campaigners, and community groups to make a unified and definitive plea for reparative justice.
The first reparations conference organized by the all-party parliamentary group for Afrikan reparations (APPG-AR), consisting of MPs from different political parties, will take place in Euston, located in north London. The goal of the conference is to reach a consensus among stakeholders and grassroots activists on a statement that can be utilized by MPs to advocate for a policy promoting reparative justice in the House of Commons.
The MP for Streatham, Bell Ribeiro-Addy and chair of the APPG-AR, stated: “We are uniting individuals from various regions of the UK, including international speakers, to strongly advocate for reparative justice.”
According to her, the conference includes participation from not only grassroots activists and community groups, but also politicians and representatives from the Scottish National Party, Green Party, and Labour Party.
“This is a gathering of individuals who have been discussing these matters for an extended period.”
According to the speaker, reparative justice encompasses more than just financial restitution. She emphasized the need for long-term commitments that address the larger issues of equity and repairing the harm caused by the trafficking and enslavement of Africans. While financial compensation may be necessary, it is not the sole focus of reparative justice.
The conference will address the return of valuable African artifacts and ancestral remains that were stolen and are currently held in museums and other institutions in the UK.
Many of these unpleasant museums, which I refer to as such because I was recently asked to leave one, argue that if they return their artifacts, their museums will become empty and the people in Africa won’t be able to properly care for them. However, it has come to light that even the British Museum is not fully aware of its own collection, as there have been suspicions of employees stealing items and selling them on eBay for over a year. Ribeiro-Addy shared this information.
She hopes that museums will follow the example of the Horniman Museum in London and repatriate looted and stolen artifacts in their possession to their respective countries. “Even if they are not returned, proper ownership should be recognized as it is a matter of showing respect,” she stated.
The APPG-AR’s report recommends that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport allocate funds for researching the origins of cultural artifacts, negotiating claims for their return, and covering the expenses of returning stolen items. Additionally, the report calls for improved guidelines on how to handle and return ancestral human remains in heritage and museum contexts in England.
She expressed her desire for us to find common ground and utilize it to advocate for laws that work towards restorative justice.
We are striving towards that goal, and it would be unfair to take action without first seeking input from the community. Therefore, we are taking steps to involve the community in our decision-making process today.
Meetings are taking place both online and in physical locations.