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India contributes USD 260,000 for memorial at UN

United Nations

United Nations:  India has contributed USD 260,000 for a permanent memorial unveiled at the UN headquarters here to honour the victims of slavery and transatlantic slave trade.

The ‘Ark of Return’ was unveiled yesterday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa.

The memorial was unveiled on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade commemorated on March 25, with the theme this year being ‘Women and Slavery’.

Designed by American architect of Haitian descent Rodney Leon, the memorial aims to underscore the tragic legacy of the slave trade, which for over four centuries abused and robbed 15 million Africans of their human rights and dignity.

“India’s voluntary contribution of USD 260,000 to the Permanent Memorial Trust Fund is a visible manifestation of our continued commitment to the objective of ending racial discrimination and slave trade,” said Indian Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji.

With USD 260,000 India is the lead contributor to the trust fund among over 85 contributing countries and individuals.

Mukerji, speaking on the occasion quoted India’s national poet Rabindranath Tagore and said “the Ark would hopefully guide the international community into that heaven of freedom where the mind is without fear so that future generations can collectively ensure that the tragedy of slavery will never again befall humankind.”

The UN Chief said that the memorial stands as a strong and permanent reminder not only of this gross injustice but of the goals that the UN set for itself 70 years ago.

“This poignant and powerful memorial helps us to acknowledge the collective tragedy that befell millions of people.”

“It encourages us to consider the historical legacy of slavery and, above all, it ensures that we never forget,” the UN Chief said, while also issuing a call to honour women of African descent.

“So this Ark of Return will stand as a constant reminder on the plaza of the United Nations, for all of us, not only to international leaders but also to the most basic of us here to never forget and to never repeat the mistakes of the past.

“Slavery remained one of the darkest and most abhorrent chapters in world history. The majority of the victims of this brutal, primitive trade in human beings remain unnamed and unknown.”

“Nevertheless, their dignity and courage was boundless and worthy of this honour and tribute,” said Kutesa.

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