‘Apologise, compensate us for colonisation’ — Indigenous leaders urge King Charles III

Leaders of the indigenous peoples of the Commonwealth on Thursday signed a letter urging King Charles III of the United Kingdom to apologise for the “horrific impacts” of colonisation.

They also urged the king to launch a compensation mechanism for the indigenous peoples of the Commonwealth.

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The letter, titled “Apology, Reparation, and Repatriation of Artefacts and Remains,” was issued a few days before the monarch’s coronation scheduled for May 6 and brought together indigenous leaders of 12 Commonwealth countries.

The countries include Antigua and Barbuda, New Zealand, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We, the undersigned, call on the British Monarch, King Charles III, on the date of his coronation being May 6, 2023, to acknowledge the horrific impacts on and legacy of genocide and colonisation of the indigenous and enslaved peoples,” the letter read.

The signed parties called for a formal apology, as well as for “a process of reparatory justice,” among other things, asking for the immediate start of the conversation on the enduring impact of slavery.

“Immediately commit to starting discussions about reparations for the oppression of our peoples, the plundering of our resources, denigration of our culture and to redistribute the wealth that underpins the Crown back to the peoples from whom it was stolen,” the letter read.

The letter also demanded the return of all cultural treasures and artifacts to the countries of their origin, as well as the repatriation of all remains currently held in UK museums and institutions, while also urging the UK Royal Family to adopt the renunciation of the “Doctrine of Discovery,” following in Pope Francis’ footsteps.

The doctrine used to serve as a justification of the rights of colonial powers to newly discovered territories and was denounced by the pontiff on March 30 in a statement condemning acts of violence and social injustice during colonial times.

Buckingham Palace and the UK government have not reacted to the letter so far.


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