UN:25 March 2008 – The United Nations observed on Tuesday the first annual commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
At a ceremony held at the UN Headquarters, musicians, dancers and other artists from across Africa and the Caribbean staged performances to remembers the victims of what UN chief Ban Ki-moon called "one of the greatest atrocities in history."
"This unparalleled global tragedy claimed untold millions of lives over four centuries, and left a terrible legacy that continues to dehumanize and oppress people around the world to this day," said the secretary-general.
"The forced movement of West Africans across the Atlantic happened on an unprecedented scale of brutality and inhumanity, killings and massive abuses. Millions died without a burial, without a trace," he said.
To atone for this crime, he said, "we must acknowledge the great lapse in moral judgment that allowed it to happen. We must urge present and future generations to avoid repeating history. We must acknowledge the contributions that enslaved Africans made to civilization."
"And countries that prospered from the slave trade must examine the origins of present-day social inequality and work to unravel mistrust between communities," he said.
On Dec. 17, 2007, the UN General Assembly designated 25 March as an annual International Day for the Commemoration of the Two-Hundredth Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, beginning in 2008.
The purpose of this Day is to honor the memory of those who died as a result of slavery as well as those who have been exposed to the horrors of the middle passage and have fought for freedom from enslavement. In addition, it is a day to discuss the causes, consequences, and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade in order to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.
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