Jamaica is calling for Britain to pay billions of pounds in reparations for slavery.
Sir Hilary Beckles told David Cameron in an open letter that he has benefited from slavery on the island through his ancestral links to General Sir James Duff.
‘You are a grandson of the Jamaican soil who has been privileged and enriched by your forebears’ sins of the enslavement of our ancestors,’ Sir Hilary, chairman of the Caricom Reparations Commission, wrote in the Jamaica Observer.
‘Successive governments in this land, a place still groaning under the weight of this injustice, have done well during the 53 years of sovereignty, but the burden of inherited mess from slavery and colonialism has overwhelmed many of our best efforts.’
Downing Street have always dismissed reparation demands, but now Cameron faces being shunned if he doesn’t address the issue.
‘If it is not on the agenda, I will not attend any functions involving the visiting prime minister, and I will cry shame on those who do, considering that there was not a dissenting voice in the debate in Parliament,’ Jamaican MP Mike Henry told the Jamaica Gleaner.
However, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: ‘We don’t think reparations are the right approach. The PM’s point will be, he wants to focus on the future. We are talking about issues that are centuries old and taken under a different government when he was not even born.’
This isn’t the first time Britain has been called on to pay compensation for colonialism and slavery.
In 2013, Jamaica’s prime minister Portia Simpson Miller called for reparation discussions at the UN, but the UK didn’t agree to pay reparations.
And earlier this year, a speech by Indian MP Shashi Tharoor went viral after he argued that Britain should pay reparations for colonialism in India.
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