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St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance: “Descendent authority decides over ancestral remains and their resting places”

The St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance is proud of the fact that Emancipation Day is formally a national holiday in St. Eustatius and Saba. This is still being fought for in the European Netherlands. Yet, Emancipation Day 2022 is a day of great worries as well. The day after the visit of the president of Unesco Netherlands, Ms. Kathleen Ferrier, to the burial ground Godet, access to the site was closed. Big rocks have been dumped in front of the graves with bulldozers and filled with sand. “To protect the Godet burial site”, as the government Facebook page claims. But the rocks were placed without the necessary measures to protect the graves, such as protective shielding in between.

Another worrisome fact was that archaeologist Ruud Stelten, found guilty in the SHRC report of malpractice in handling the remains of our ancestors at the Golden Rock site, was putting pressure on members of the Central Committee to convince them to conduct further scientific research on the excavated human remains of our ancestors. How can the government's representatives allow that to happen? Besides the inappropriateness, it is not just for the Committee to decide on this

Ms. Kathleen Ferrier visited the burial grounds on June 2 on invitation of the St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance. The Alliance wants to enroll the Godet Burial Ground and the Golden Rock Burial Ground in the famous Unesco's Routes of Enslaved People https://en.unesco.org/themes/fostering-rights-inclusion/slave-route

The St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance emphasizes that we, all Afrikans in the diaspora, and especially in St. Eustatius, are the descendant authority, not the government representatives, not the Island Council, not the Central Committee alone, but all of us. This is our heritage. The Alliance will soon present an interim report on these shocking developments that will be presented to the relevant cultural heritage organizations in the Netherlands and internationally.

The St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance wishes everyone on St. Eustatius and all other islands and countries involved a memorable and meaningful Emancipation Day 2022. We are now a free people and we have the right to decide what will happen to the remains and resting places of our ancestors. Everyone who is upset as we are with the above mentioned developments, we welcome you to contact us. Together we have a stronger voice.

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