It is estimated that during Colston’s involvement with the Royal African Company, it transported around 84,000 African men, women and children, who were branded with the company’s initials on their chest. Around 19,300 of these people died on their journey to the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas.
Designed to maximise profit and hold as many enslaved people as possible, the boats were hotbeds for dysentery, dehydration and scurvy.
The Independent- Edward Colston: Who was the Bristol slave trader and why was his statue pulled down?
RAPAR considers that any attempt to criminalise the people who removed his statue would be deeply misplaced and shortsighted, only piling insult on top of the injury that communities around the world are expressing at this time in the name of #blacklivesmatter.
"Recent events around the world and here in the UK have placed systemic and institutional injustice in plain sight.
RAPAR has stood against all forms of exploitation, discrimination and oppression for 20 years and we give our full and unconditional support to Black Lives Matter.”
Watch this short video about Black Lives Matter from one of our RAPAR Leaders, Alimamy Bangura:
On 19th March we reported here
about what was happening to our member Jenny da Costa. Jenny is still waiting for the Home Office to progress his case and, as a consequence, is still destitute and now staying with friends in Sheffield.
On 3rd May, Jenny published a short report about what he was hearing from his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in reaction to Covid19.
Today, we publish his open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson:
Dear Mr Johnson,
I am writing to you regarding the actions of your special adviser, Dominic Cummings, the further actions of yourself, Boris Johnson and the potential consequences of the actions of the two.
Although not tested in court, it is clear to many, including those with considerable legal expertise, that Dominic Cummings has violated the regulations and accompanying directives. Dominic Cummings during the question period after his statement in the Downing Street Rose Garden said that his wife had no symptoms, while in his statement he said there was a high probability that he already had caught the disease. He cannot play on both counts. If his wife had no symptoms, there was no emergency, so no need to travel. If he thought he had caught the virus, he was breaking government regulations and advice. Cummings admitted that he went to the hospital when he was sick and very likely to have Covid-19. Again, this was not an emergency because his wife and child were in the hospital. Why did someone in their support network, the reason they went to Durham in the first place, not complete this task?
These regulations and the directives that accompany them have been followed to the letter by the overwhelming majority of the population. As you know, this has resulted in both considerable anxiety and self-sacrifice for many people across the UK. The public adopted a collectivism where the needs of the greatest number were privileged over individual advantages. This is one reason why there has been so much anger at the actions of Dominic Cummings, which has been compounded by the absence of apologies and your defence of his actions.
We all make decisions that in hindsight we can see are incorrect and we are of course all human and emotions can hinder clear logical thinking. However, I would like to emphasise that when it is a young child, nothing is entirely "momentary" because there is a lot to prepare. All in all, I am not convinced by Cummings' argument for making the decisions he made, and it seems that the majority of the public is of the same opinion.
In any case, whether we accept his explanation or not, we must all accept that there are consequences for our actions, whatever our motivations for carrying them out. As Dominic Cummings has an extremely high profile, his actions have more potential consequences and that is why people in positions like his are bound by higher standards than others. Imagine me as an asylum seeker, I acted the same as Mr Dominic and then I am arrested by the police - you know very well that mine would be a direct arrest - but curiously I simply note that we are in a world of untouchables, because the treatment which is to be reserved for the special adviser to the Prime Minister is a privilege, taking into account his social rank.
The actions taken by Cummings and the lack of consequences of those actions, including a resounding endorsement by yourself that Cummings behaved "responsibly, lawfully and honestly", have potentially significant public health consequences, including an increased number of deaths.
Mr Prime Minister, I take this opportunity to inform you that during this long and hard period of confinement, I had to face a dark period of my life, because I lost more than 30 people from my Congolese community . Everywhere in the United Kingdom, the people who were very dear to me but, given the rules of restrictions imposed by your Government, I had to stay at home in spite of myself, without attending any funeral ceremony.
This approval by the Prime Minister, the absence of an apology and the absence of any disciplinary action has led to the belief that there is one rule for the British public and a different rule for those in high office. You will be aware from your inbox that it is not just anger at the "Westminster bubble" or resentful "Leftovers" as some reviewers have indicated.
The success of the fight against COVID19 depends on a number of factors, including clear messages and confidence in the government so that we all act in a way that, while restricting our freedoms, benefits our communities in their togetherness. The actions Dominic Cummings took and your solid defence risked all three. The frankly bizarre explanation of the trip to Barnard Castle has led to general ridicule which further weakens the government's message. We are in a critical phase of the fight against the COVID19 which is, unfortunately, likely to last a long time. The Government appears to have proposed relaxing the lockout for political rather than scientific reasons and against "science". Some have argued that it was to divert attention from the lingering anger around Cummings.
Two questions come to mind:
If you answer yes to either of these questions, I think your action should have been the same as that of many of your fellow British citizens, who have asked for the resignation of Dominic Cummings. Your opinion? I ask you to reconsider your position.
Jenny Dakosta Van Mputu, Directeur Exécutif National, Human Rights Activist-Founder and National Executive Director of ‘No Impunity for the Congolese State’ (NICS) – Human Rights Organisation
e: nicsorganisationhrdc(at)yahoo.com; w: jennyvanmputu.com