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7, Place de Fontenoy
75352 PARIS 07 SP, France


Nurturing the democratic debate.  
20-08-2004 5:25 am The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, August 23, will be celebrated at UNESCO Headquarters (Room I) with a series of cultural events from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“The Day gives us the opportunity to reflect together on the historical causes, processes and consequences of the unprecedented tragedy that was slavery and the slave trade, a tragedy that was concealed for many years and is yet to be fully recognized”, declares the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura in a message for August 23. “It not only disrupted the lives of millions of human beings uprooted from their land and deported in the most inhuman conditions, but it brought about cultural exchanges which deeply and lastingly influenced morals and beliefs, social relations and knowledge on several continents,” he adds, before referring to present practices of slavery, which “although abolished and penalized in international instruments, is still practised in new forms, that today affect millions of men, women and children across the world.”

The programme of the Day will begin with a poetry reading by Solal Valentin from Martinique (4 p.m.), followed by a concert by the group Adjabel (4.20 p.m.) and D’ de Kabal (4.40 p.m.).

A French association, Comité Marche du 23 mai 1998, will give a presentation on the subject of “Understanding the 1804 Haitian Revolution”, followed by a debate (5.30 and 7.30 p.m. respectively).

At 7.30, Koïchiro Matsuura will speak in honour of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. He will also preside over the closing of the exhibition “Textures – retracing the tragedy of the slave trade” (Segur Hall and Salle des Pas Perdus Room). The show - of wall hangings from Abomey (Benin) lent by the city of Schoelcher in Martinique - opened on August 9.

At 7.45 p.m., in Room I, there will be a screening of the film “Sanfoka” about the transatlantic slave trade, directed by Haïlé Gerima (USA, 120 minutes, English with French subtitles).

UNESCO’s General Conference proclaimed August 23 as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition in commemoration of the 1791 San Domingo revolt, which marked the first decisive victory of slaves against their oppressors in the history of humanity.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2004 as International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition.

Journalists wishing to cover the event must contact UNESCO’s Press Relations Section for accreditation: i.le-fournis@unesco.org

Source Media Advisory N°2004-57


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