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News ::
African People Take US to Court (english)
19 Oct 2003
Report from Press Conference at U.N. Headquarters announcing 12th Session of International Tribunal on Reparations for African People in the U.S. Set for Nov. 15-16 in Philadelphia
Report from Press Conference at U.N. Headquarters announcing 12th Session of International Tribunal on Reparations for African People in the U.S. Set for Nov. 15-16 in Philadelphia
Photo: Reparations Tribunal Organizer Kamau Becktemba (left) and NYC Councilman Charles Barron (speaking) at U.N. to Indict U.S. for Crimes Against African People.

On Tuesday, October 7th, African community activists stood in front of the United Nations and discussed their plans to put the U.S. government on trial. International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) organizer Kamau Becktemba announced the upcoming 12th Session of the International Tribunal on Reparations for African People in the U.S., to be convened on November 15-16, 2003 in Philadelphia.

NYC Councilman Charles Barron, who will serve as an expert witness in the Tribunal, spoke about the Queen Mother Moore Reparations Bill that he has submitted to NYC City Council to require the City to pay reparations to African people for slavery and the continuing attacks on black rights. He told the audience that the bill is only one vote away from passage. Queen Mother Moore was a beloved spokeswoman for the reparations movement, raising the cry for reparations for African people for decades, beginning in 1957 when the New Orleans-based Association of Ethiopian Women took the demand to the United Nations.

“African people built New York”, Barron reminded listeners. “Other peoples have received reparations. It’s past time for African people to get paid for the work we’ve done”. He argued that African people have a right to free education, health care, and access to economic development.

Kamau Becktemba spoke about the upcoming Tribunal. “We have charged and we continue to charge the U.S. government with genocide of African people through the imposition of unlivable conditions of poverty; terror rained down on us by the military occupation of our communities; forced slavery endured by over a million of our people in the concentration camps called prisons; and the miseducation and brutalization of our children in public schools throughout this country.”

In 1982, the first session of the International Tribunal on Reparations for African People in the U.S. was held in NYC and found the U.S. government guilty of violating international law in its treatment of African people in this country. The international panel of judges ruled that the U.S. owes African people reparations in the amount of 4.1 trillion dollars for unpaid labor alone, with damages yet to be assessed for pain and suffering.

This reparations figure was derived from an extensive historical brief presented at the Tribunal that calculated the value of forced labor during slavery and it’s critical impact on the early development of the U.S. economy. The 4.1 trillion dollar figure also included the value of the underpaid labor of African people from 1865 to 1982, based on the yearly wage differential between white and black incomes. Both amounts were adjusted for inflation to arrive at 4.1 trillion dollars.

In 1982, People’s Advocate Omali Yeshitela had this to say about the Tribunal. “One thing the World Tribunal did do was to establish a process wherein the issue of the oppression of African people in the U.S. will have to be taken seriously again by the international community. As a result of the terror and carnage strewn throughout our oppressed, colonized communities, resulting in the imprisonment and murder of our leaders and the destruction of our militant organizations, our people were temporarily pacified, their voices stilled. But now, for the first time in its history, the US government has been put on trial for its crimes against black people by black people ourselves.”

This year’s session in Philadelphia will focus on the issues of police brutality and the prison and education systems. Omali Yeshitela will again serve as People’s Advocate.
Witnesses will include:
• Dr. Leonard Jeffries, City College of New York, on the slave trade
• NYC Councilman Charles Barron
• Attorney Michael Coard, Philadelphia lawyer on police brutality and unjust imprisonment
• Bonnie Kerness, American Friends Service Committee, on the torture of African children in prison
• Pam Africa, on the case of African political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal
• Lawrence Hamm, People’s Organization for Progress, on police brutality in New Jersey
• Ramona Africa, survivor of the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia
• Leodus Jones, on the use of African prisoners in medical experiments
• Temple University African History Professor Ella Forbes, whose son Erin was killed by Lower Merion, PA Police
• And many other mothers, fathers, wives and children of African people who have been murdered by the U.S. government, in the streets and execution chambers of this country.

An international panel of judges will hear the testimony and enter it into the record. Judges for this session include:
• Thami Kaa Plaatjie, Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (South Africa)
• Dorothy Lewis, National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA)
• Luwezi Kinshasa, African Socialist International, London
• Mohammad Chehab, Arab activist
• Judy De Los Santos, Union Del Barrio, (Mexican national liberation organization)

The 12th Session of the International Tribunal on Reparations for African People in the U.S. is open to the public and will take place on November 15th and 16th, 2003 at the International House, 3701 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. For more information, call (215) 724-3535 or visit
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