Guyanese should speak out against modern day slavery

Dear Editor,

Anyone who follows the world news ought to know that slavery of African people is not only alive and well, but is growing steadily. According to multiple reports in the international news media, Libya is one of the hot spots of modern day slavery. This is because it is a main transit point for impoverished sub-Saharan Africans looking for a better life in Europe. These desperate Africans pay human traffickers to be smuggled to Europe via Libya; instead growing numbers of them end up being sold into slavery. These slaves are kept under deplorable conditions and are worked to death. Many are murdered or mutilated to feed the illegal trade in internal organs for transplants to save the lives of rich persons in metropolitan nations.

This is not made up stuff. This is not ‘fake news’. If you have the stomach for real life horror stories, just Google ‘African slaves in Libya’ and see for yourself. The internet has a multitude of eye-opening articles and sickening videos about this trade. Even if ten per cent of these reports are true, that would be compelling evidence of modern day slavery, most of which involves poor people who cannot be blamed for seeking a new and better life in the rich, industrialized nations that built up their massive wealth during centuries of African slavery.

This slavery is happening at a time when mankind is supposed to be more civilized, more democratic and more moral. While that is bad enough, it is even worse that people in Guyana, especially those of African ancestry and the institutions that represent them are calling very loudly for reparations for slavery in the past while maintaining a deafening silence regarding today’s slavery in Libya and elsewhere.

Of course, modern day slavery is not limited to Africans or people of African ancestry. In fact, as we know from the efforts of Minister Broomes and others, slavery exists right here in Guyana where local and foreign women and underage girls are detained against their will and forced into prostitution. We also know that Guyanese who try to migrate through the ‘backtrack’ sometimes end up enslaved by human traffickers. But the stories from Libya are particularly disgusting and disturbing.

Where are the cries of condemnation from local political parties, ACDA, the Rastafarian movement, the human rights movement, Pan African Organisation, the religious organisations and concerned citizens about the modern day slavery of Africans in Libya? Do they know what is going on? Do they care? This is a golden opportunity for the African diaspora in Guyana and elsewhere to stand up and protest loudly and let the world know that they are against the slavery, rape, torture and mutilation of their African brothers and sisters in Libya.

I am also calling on the Guyana government, in particular President David Granger to raise this issue with the United Nations at the highest forum and take the lead in this fight.  Doing so will make our President an internationally recognised leader against these despicable acts being meted out to our African brothers and sisters and further place Guyana on the map by creating world recognition as former president Dr Jagdeo did in championing the environment and being recognised as Champion of the Earth.

For me personally, I find this extremely painful. One can only imagine the pain and suffering of the forefathers of our Guyanese brothers and sisters. The atrocities they faced are unimaginable, and the injustices against them were not just physical but their spirits were also burnt from their hearts as they were made the property of the ‘masters’.

Now this assault against Africans is happening again in the 21st century.

I call on all concerned Guyanese to acquaint themselves with the facts about modern day slavery in Libya and also in Guyana or anywhere else. Without regard for colour or creed or political persuasion, let us all arm ourselves with the facts and make our voices heard loud and clear, both at home and in international circles and come out strongly against slavery in all its forms wherever it exists. It will make a difference. Even if our collective action stops just one human being from being sold into slavery or helps a single slave be rescued it will be worthwhile. But we have to act, and act now!

Yours faithfully,

Haji Roshan Khan Sr

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