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Burning Spear News

International Tribunal Postponed

May 5, 2007

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Uhuru! Thank you for your support of the demand and struggle for reparations and the return of Africa's resources into the hands of African people!

Visit for more information and updates about ITRAP.

Uhuru! Brothers, Sisters and Comrades:

It is with great sorrow that I must inform you that our efforts to hold the Berlin Tribunal on Reparations for Afrikan People in June of this year have suffered a major setback and we will not be able to hold the tribunal on the scheduled date. I know this announcement will be met with regret and disappointment by many of you. Support and enthusiasm for this effort from Africans and others from around world have been absolutely amazing.

As many of you may know, the Berlin tribunal effort was initiated by the African People's Socialist Party (APSP) and the Uhuru Movement. It was an effort inspired in part by the reparations tribunals begun in the U.S. by our Party in 1982 and held successively for many years thereafter. Over the years we have witnessed the growth of the call for reparations to African people as a popular demand among African people wherever we are located.

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We believe that holding the tribunal in Berlin, Germany was particularly significant since Berlin was the scene of the 1884-5 conference that divided up Africa and parceled it out to European powers for colonial plunder. Again, we were impressed by the enthusiasm expressed by African people of all walks of life worldwide for this tribunal that would put European colonialism on trial for its heinous crimes committed against African people.

Efforts to build Tribunal challenged by political differences in organizing committee

The efforts to build this tribunal and the creation of the International Tribunal on Reparations for Afrikan People (ITRAP) were a joint venture with the participation of Africans from diverse locations throughout the world. For almost two years we have come together every few months, most recently in Berlin, with the sole purpose of holding this tribunal. While some of the Africans in ITRAP had some prior relationship with each other, we of the African People's Socialist Party and Uhuru Movement had little or no prior working relationship with most of the Africans who assumed responsibility for building this historic tribunal.

This was one of the factors that contributed to our inability to hold the tribunal in June. A myriad of political, ideological and organizational differences among us consistently undermined our ability to function with cohesion. The level of unity with the project was not equal among us. We had to contend with the fact that since the advent of neocolonialism as a general reality within the African world, many Africans are content to simply work on ways to improve the current system and basic set of relationships governing African life. We of the African People's Socialist Party see the absolute necessity of overturning this system and neocolonialism itself. From our perspective the International Tribunal is a tool for building support for that necessity.

Despite the political differences among us and the contradictions that we faced, we summed up as recently as late March that we were in a position to successfully hold the tribunal. That was a little more than two months prior to the scheduled date. At our last meeting in Berlin on March 24th and 25th, we summed up our difficulties and errors and set goals and deadlines to be met that could guarantee our ability to move forward with our June tribunal date.

April 9th was set as the crucial date where a determination would be made about whether we could move forward with the June date for the tribunal. As many of you know, the lack of resources necessary for the holding of the tribunal and travel for witnesses and judges from around the world was one of the key issues.

On April 9th I sent out to the ITRAP group my assessment, based solely on the accomplishments of which I was aware. I was quite proud of our success in resolving the contradictions that threatened our success. I was especially proud of the success we had in resolving the financial contradictions, thanks to the outpouring of your support from the world community. The following is just an excerpt of that message:

"We did it!!!!!!!!!

"Uhuru! Am'Afrika brothers and sisters;

"Today is our deadline for determining whether we are going to be able to hold our tribunal on the designated dates in June. While I am not fully aware of the success most others have had in carrying out the tasks scheduled for completion by April 9th, I am nevertheless confident we have passed the test and are ready to commit to the June date. My confidence is based on my knowledge of accomplishments within my realm of responsibility and/or influence.

"First of all, we were necessarily concerned about having the necessary funds to hold the tribunal. We agreed on the need to raise 20,000 euros with 10,000 euros having to be raised by April 9th. Unfortunately, Brother Kojo was unable to get the call out to members of ITRAP for financial commitments until Saturday, April 7th and then initially not to everyone because he was unclear on how to use the ITRAP list serve, something I completely understand due to my own ineptitude with computers and the internet.

"Nevertheless, by Monday evening, April 9th, we have been able to raise 8,186.50 euros within the Uhuru Movement and have a commitment for another 636.65 euros. With what our treasurer was already holding this takes us to at least 10,000 euros without anyone else raising any money at all. Thus we have raised a considerable amount of money within the two week timeframe we gave ourselves. This is the clearest example of our capability to move forward with our June tribunal date."

Berlin Onsite Group violates agreement

Obviously my congratulations were premature. The group designated as the Berlin Onsite Group violated the agreement that we had made at our March 24-25th meeting and returned to a position they had put forward prior to the meeting. The violation of the ITRAP collective decision by the Berlin Onsite Group threw enough uncertainty into the picture to undermine our ability to move forward. They had effectively and unilaterally vetoed the decision of the group and, objectively speaking, nullified the upcoming tribunal.

My response to the Onsite Group's reversal of our ITRAP collective decision resulted in my acknowledgement of the annulment of the tribunal. I did this in a message to ITRAP, using the ITRAP list serve. My communication to ITRAP is available to be read online at

I must state here that the Berlin Onsite Group has responded to my criticism of their actions in a very subjective and hostile manner. The Onsite Group has decided to resort to personal attacks against me while refusing to address my criticisms of their actions that led to the postponement of our tribunal. I have decided not to respond to the personal attacks. I do not think a response to such attacks will serve us well. Within the African People's Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement we do believe in political struggle. However, I think political struggle must revolve around principle. I think we do our entire movement a disservice when we substitute personal venom for principled political struggle. The African People's Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement believe that the purpose of criticism and self-criticism is to solve the problems of the revolution and the movement and not to vent personal animosities that serve to obscure the real political contradictions.

I do want to report here that we of the APSP and the Uhuru Movement do intend to press forward with the tribunal. It is presently unclear when and where the tribunal can occur. Our experience with this effort reaffirmed for us the extent of the support there is in the African world for reparations and for the reparations tribunal as a tool through which to unify the efforts of Africans worldwide for reparations.

Thank you to all who supported and built the Tribunal work

We are especially thankful for the support and work that went into this effort from all those in the ITRAP group. There are several of us who traveled long distances, sometimes crossing continents, to participate in building for the tribunal on a regular basis. In Africa we had activists who were busy working for the tribunal in Kenya in the East and Zimbabwe and Azania (South Africa) in the South. Africans were also building in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Conakry and neighboring West African post-colonial countries.

In Africa, our efforts were greatly assisted by the Africanist Movement in West Africa and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. In Kenya, the primary work was being done by members of the African People's Socialist Party who were interviewing veterans from the Mau Mau insurgency against the British colonialists and the wife of Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi, who led that struggle. Sister Claudette Duhamel from the island of Martinique had agreed to assume the task of prosecuting the case for the tribunal and a host of other Africans were involved in determining their roles as judges, witnesses and other participants. The Pan African Congress Movement (PACM) in London was also in the process of determining the extent of its involvement in the tribunal. Positive responses to the tribunal had already come from the London and Birmingham based organizations of the PACM.

Within the U.S., a number of African leaders and organizations were either actively involved or considering their involvement. One of the most outstanding examples of this support was that from Queen Mother Dorothy Lewis of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA). Not only did Queen Mother Lewis extend her hand to the effort, but she also helped us to identify and locate other Africans who would also unite with the reparations tribunal. Chokwe Lumumba, an attorney who is a leader of the New Afrikan People's Organization, also offered considerable help with the legal aspects of the tribunal work as did Ajamu Sankofa of NCOBRA and Dr. Naim Kly of the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM). The list could go on. We are grateful to all of you, as well as to those who I have not mentioned in this message. You know who you are.

Then, there was Hans Faessler from Switzerland who has written a book on Swiss participation in slavery and was prepared to present a "friend of the court" brief supporting our claim for reparations. Hans had also organized 15 members of the Swiss parliament to send a statement of solidarity with the tribunal. Union del Barrio of the Mexican national liberation movement was preparing to send a delegation of observers to the tribunal and the International League of People's Struggle, representing the liberation efforts of various peoples, from Turkey to the Philippines, was also actively engaged in determining whether to send a delegation of observers.

Thank you to all who contributed financially

However, I want to express my most sincere appreciation to those of you who responded so generously to our call for the resources to meet our deadline for determining whether we could hold the tribunal in June. The decision to set the deadline was made at the March 24th-25th ITRAP meeting in Berlin. However, it was Wednesday, March 28th before I could return to the U.S. and hold a meeting to organize for the resources.

The ITRAP goal was to raise 10,000 euros by April 9th. This was more than $13,000 and we had less than ten days from the date of my March 28 meeting to raise most of it. Our ability to raise the 10,000 euros by April 9th was the key determinant of whether we would be able to proceed with the tribunal in June. By April 9th the call for resources made by the Party and the Uhuru Movement resulted in raising between 8600 and 8800 euros and, with the money ITRAP had collected previously from among some of the membership, we had more than reached our goal.

APSP committed to building the Tribunal

We of the African People's Socialist Party are committed to holding the reparations tribunal as soon as we are able to regroup. We plan to lead the effort ourselves with the support of African organizations and individuals with a similar worldview. While we will again attempt to build a coalition effort, the core group around which the effort will be consolidated will consist of people and organizations with the highest degree of unity with the project and who are able to truly understand the historic significance of the tribunal.

I am compelled by principle to offer the money back to those of you who contributed so generously to this effort with the expectation that the tribunal would occur in June. If you contact us at [email protected] we will quickly return your donation.

However, you can also allow us to leave your contribution in the ITRAP bank account that we established at Washington Mutual Bank for use to hold the tribunal sometime in the future as quickly as we are able to regroup. Your solidarity with the tribunal effort will be eternally recognized regardless of the decision you make about the return of the resources contributed for the tribunal effort.

This entire experience with the tribunal has revealed many things to us. Not the least of these things is the capacity of our movement to prevail. I am convinced that we have entered an entirely new era in history. A social system based on the parasitism that our demand for reparations exposes is in severe crisis. A page in history is being turned and our movement represents the future for Africa and the world. History is on our side. We will prevail.

Again, for Our Africa and Our People, I thank and congratulate all of you.

One Africa! One Nation!

Omali Yeshitela,
Chairman of the APSP
and the International Tribunal on Reparations for African People

Watch the powerful video: The Scene of the Crime

/old_site_images/2007-05/tribunal-postponed/slave_ship_throwing_overboard.jpg alt="slave ship" width="205" height="115" border="1" style="float:left;margin-right:5px"/> The International Tribunal on Reparations for Afrikan People (ITRAP) is an African people's court aimed at putting the U.S.A and European imperialism on trial for their crimes against African people during the slave trade, colonialism and neocolonialism, including: genocide and theft of resources.


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