Community News
Speech of the President Daniel Gibbes - The 27 May 2017.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We thought, last year, that for the very last time, we would commemorate the abolition of slavery a 27 May.

The historical research undertaken by our historian, Mrs Daniella Jeffry - whom I wish to salute this morning - and confirmed by the dynamic and very involved service of the Territorial Archives, had indeed led our Territorial Council to vote unanimously, Date of commemoration in Saint-Martin on 28 May, date of effective proclamation in our territory.

But as in St. Martin, things do not always go as they should be, the ministerial decree that was to endorse this date of 28 May commemorates the abolition of slavery in St. Martin and official holiday , Was the subject of a small shell, since its editors indeed confused the month of May with ... the month of March!

So much for the anecdote.

It does not alter, however, the pleasure and honor I have this morning of having you and all by my side, in the proud and benevolent shadow of our Lady Liberty, for this moment of strong symbol and Rich in our history.

Nor does it change the duty of memory that is imposed upon us today.

We are in 2017. Whether we are here or elsewhere, we live, whatever one may say, in the cozy comfort of a Republic which assures the same rights to all its citizens and in the tranquility of a democracy which The guarantees.

And we must remember, and teach the new generations this morning, that this has not always been the case. And that for three centuries our country, France, has benefited from the trade in slave trade and slavery.

300 years, before women and men, who had faith in the Humanity, stand up to say "never again that".

The commemoration of this day imposes a duty of respect. Respect for these fighters against infamy and barbarism.

I shared the 18 last May, remembering the ideal Dessalinien with our Haitian friends on the occasion of the feast of the Flag. This morning, in the same way, I wish that we should have a remembrance as lively as that of Victor Schoelcher, Felix Eboue, Abb6 Gregoire, Louis Delgres, Toussaint Louverture, Ignatius, Solitude.

Their struggles, their revolts, their resistance, their beliefs in human values, and all this bloodshed, make us French today, living in a Republic in which freedom and human rights are indestructible pillars .

And I would like to recall that our Republic has rightly built itself with the abolitionist movement, and these words of Schoelcher in 1848: "The Republic no longer intends to make any distinction in the human family. It does not believe that it suffices, to boast of being a free people, to pass over in silence a whole class of men held outside the common law of humanity. She took her principle seriously; She repaired to these unfortunates the crime which formerly took them from their parents, from their native country, by giving them France as their country, and as inheritance all the rights of the French citizen. In this way, it testifies rather loudly that it excludes no one from its eternal motto: "Liberty - Equality - Fraternity".

Only memory and reflection on this painful past can ground our commitment as citizens against the barbarities of today and tomorrow. It was in this process that our Parliament was included when, in 2001, it made France the very first country in the world to include in the law recognition of slavery as a crime against humanity, humanity.

These hours are sinking from our history, these struggles to get out of it and to engrave their memories in the marble for present and future generations, must remind us that today even more than 20 millions of women, men and women Children throughout the world, remain the victims of various forms of servitude.

Thank you.

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