23 May: Day for Remembering the Victims of Colonial Slavery

Each year, on 23rd May, the association Comité Marche du 23 mai 1998 - CM98 organizes, in collaboration with numerous other associations, a series of events to honour the victims of colonial slavery, which is now known as Limyè ba Yo (recognition-reconciliation). These memorial and cultural events not only honour the memory of slave ancestors, but also work towards the concept of reconciliation in opposition to 'reparations'. The 23rd May is preceded by 'Le Chemin de Fer' (literally 'Railway'), which includes a series of debates and presentations designed to reflect upon the slave past and the societies and identities that have formed as a result. On 2nd May 2008, a memorandum was circulated in which the Prime Minister (Fillon) officially recognized 23rd May as a day to remember the victims of colonial slavery in reference to both the abolition of slavery in 1848 and the silent march that took place on 23rd May 1998 that contributed to the (first) Taubira law recognizing slavery and the slave trade as 'crimes against humanity'.

Based on this first step, CM98 has tried to further its memory work and, in September 2016, the deputy-mayor of Sarcelles François Puponni submitted an amendment, within the framework of the loi Égalité Réelle Outre-Mer, modifying the law on slavery commemoration (30th June 1983). This amendment reconised 23rd May as a day to pay national homage to the victims of slavery. However, on 11th January 2017, a senator from Guadeloupe Félix Desplan proposed another amendment before the Senat to remove article 20A of the loi Egalité Réelle concerning 23rd May. In response, the president of CM98 Serge Romana began a hunger strike in front of the Senat that lasted six days. On 18th January, the Senat voted for the Larcher and Arnel amendments that reintroduced article 20A.

 

Links to associations (collaborations): 
Outcome: 
Ongoing