A group of Jamaicans are demanding reparations for slavery from England. British Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate are set to have a three-day visit to Jamaica. The visit, to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee (70th anniversary) of the Queen’s coronation, will officially begin Wednesday and end on Thursday. This visit is also during the 60th Anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence.
During the visit, the Prince and Duchess will make “courtesy calls on Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Chief of Defence Staff Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss-Gorman.” They will have a State dinner at King’s House and visits Shortwood Teachers’ College in St Andrew, the Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine, and the Caribbean Infantry Training Centre in St James. The Prince and Duchess will also meet with Jamaica Defence Force and celebrate the legacy of Bob Marley.
A relatively new advocacy group (Advocates Network) in Jamaica, in an open letter to Prince William and the Duchess, said that they “will not participate in your Platinum Jubilee celebration” but “celebrate 60 years of freedom from British colonial domination.”
Advocates Network starts the letter off by stating:
We note with great concern your visit to our country Jamaica, during a period when we are still in the throes of a global pandemic and bracing for the full impact of another global crisis associated with the Russian/Ukraine war.
The group also states that many Jamaicans are unaware of the visit because they are still dealing with “with the horrendous fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated by pre-existing social and economic hardships inherited from our colonial past.”
The Advocate Network continues by saying:
[The Queen’s] ascension to the throne, in February 1952, took place 14 years after the 1938 labor uprisings against inhumane working/living conditions and treatment of workers; painful legacies of plantation slavery, which persist today.
The letter also states that during the Queen’s time on the throne, she has “done nothing to redress and atone for the suffering of our ancestors” that happened “during her reign” or during slavery and colonization.
The group specifically mentions former Prime Minister David Cameron’s 2015 statement where he addressed both Jamaica and Parliament. In his statement, Cameron says that they need to “move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future.”
In the Advocates Network open letter, they state that because of the visit many were outraged and demanded an apology. The letter said that:
In fact, on September 30, 2015, former Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron addressed a joint sitting of both houses of the Jamaican Parliament, and told us to ‘move on from this painful legacy,‘ merely acknowledging the ‘horrors of slavery‘ and asserting British leadership in the abolition of slavery.
At the end of the letter, Advocates Network also stated that:
We are of the view that an apology for British crimes against humanity, including but not limited to, the exploitation of the indigenous people of Jamaica, the transatlantic trafficking of Africans, the enslavement of Africans, indentureship and colonialization, is necessary to begin a process of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and compensation.
They ultimately close the letter asking for an apology and recognition of the need for atonement and reparations.