The Seychelles President today attended the official wreath laying ceremony commemorating the 189th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in Mauritius, held at the Le Morne International Slave Route Monument.
The ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, Hon. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Vice President of Mauritius, Cabinet of Ministers and other distinguished guests.
President Ramkalawan who is currently in Mauritius as the Chief Guest for this event, had the honour to also address those present on this momentous occasion.
President Ramkalawan expressed how honoured he was to be present and to share in this historic and emotional moment with the people of Mauritius. He underlined that today’s ceremony was to pay tribute to all the ancestors who suffered from the crime of slavery, and oppressed by forced labour.
“We will never forget them and their contribution in building our society. Slavery in all its forms is one of the darkest chapters in human history. For several centuries, millions of men, women and children suffered the toughest form of oppression that we can imagine, where their freedom and dignity were taken away from them, treated as simple commodities, and their human bodies and spirits were broken by a cruel and oppressive system. The slave trade and business fueled by greed for money and a false belief in racial superiority, destroyed families and communities and completely devastated many civilizations,” said the President.
Underpinning the historical significance of Seychelles and Mauritius, he noted that the history of slavery and its suffering continues to cast a shadow on their consciousness and that it reminds them of the human cruelty that existed in society. There, the Seychelles President underlined that it is also important not to forget all the millions of people around the world who are victims of modern slavery and exploitation today, in one form or another, caused by global conflicts, economic imbalances, lack of education, lack of basic services, starvation, diseases among others. “It is our duty, especially in knowing our past, to continue to sensitize the international community to this modern scourge and see how we can contribute to its elimination.”
In this context, President Ramkalawan affirmed that Seychelles and Mauritius would continue to remain engaged in their collective efforts to promote and defend human rights, human dignity, and freedom of the two nations.
“The history of Mauritius and Seychelles is one highlighted by tears, suffering, struggle and sacrifice of our ancestors. Whether in the sugarcane plantations of Mauritius, or in the coconut plantations in Seychelles or on the islands, many generations of African slaves, followed by the labourers in this barbaric system, worked under the tropical sun, and nourished the fertile soil of our island with all their might and their blood. From that period of slavery until our independence, our two nations have gone through many challenges and obstacles. Today, when we recognize the progress we have made, let’s not forget our common heritage and shared destiny that unites us,” the President noted.
During his address, President Ramkalawan reaffirmed Seychelles’ position regarding the issue of Chagos, “We fully and unreservedly support Mauritius in its efforts and progress to return Chagos under Mauritian sovereignty. Our support is based on the principles of justice, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and respect for international law. Mauritius has every right to the Chagos and we strongly denounce all attempts to deny its sovereignty. Together, we will continue to stand with Mauritius and firmly support it in its course for the recognition of its sovereignty and justice,” he said.
In conclusion, President Ramkalawan noted that through all the obstacles encountered, the two nations came out stronger and more resilient, united in their determination to build a future based on the principles of freedom, legality, social, material and spiritual well-being, and justice for all our citizens. “Let us reaffirm our commitment to promote and defend the dignity and rights of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity or belief. Let us stand together as two proud and independent nations, united in our shared heritage and our common humanity. We have come out of the shadows, in the darkness we have been in, progressing on the path of development and prosperity. Today, Mauritius and Seychelles are universally recognized and considered as beacons of hope in our region. Our shared history and our exemplary bilateral relations go beyond all borders and limits! Let us, together, continue to be an example of hope in this divided world. Let us continue to work together for a future anchored in the values of freedom, dignity and legality for all our citizens,” said President Ramkalawan.
Le Morne International Slave Route Monument is a tangible expression of the history of slavery in Mauritius and around the world, especially with the inscription of Le Morne Cultural Landscape on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008.
Amongst those who also addressed the audience included Prime-Minister Jugnauth and the Mauritian Minister for Arts and Cultural Heritage, Hon. Avinash Teeluck.
Following the ceremony, President Ramkalawan attended a cultural show held at the Le Morne Public Beach.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of State House – Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles.