ON MAY 30, 1845, the Fath Al Razak docked at the
Those 225 men and women came from different classes, creeds, castes, cultures and geographic regions. Their languages were different, as were their spiritual beliefs and manner of worship.
But in the 103 days they spent huddled inside a wooden ship crossing
They made sacrifices and endured hardships so that future generations would have a better life. They struggled to give their children opportunities. They struggled to break free of discrimination, poverty, persecution and injustice.
Today, the fruits of that struggle can be seen everywhere. The children of the indentured are lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers and professionals of all kinds.
But while many enjoy lives of relative comfort, there are thousands of others who are decaying below the poverty line. For them, the injustice continues. They remain exploited at the hands of an uncaring and unconcerned corrupt government. They see a bleak future for the present and future generations.
The noble traditions from which East Indians are descended teach the principles of dharma or sacred duty. The sacred duty of all persons is to persevere always for the benefit of truth and justice.
We must not, as citizens of this twin-island nation, sit down in our homes and watch the television chronicles of our home land being shredded to pieces by gang violence and state-sanctioned corruption. We must not roll up the windows of our cars and simply drive past the injustices that we see on our streets.
We must do more than shake our heads in dismay and disapproval. We must speak up. We must speak out. We must express our disapproval for that which is wrong. We must not abandon the ideals and dreams of our forefathers. We must repay their sacrifice in the spirit in which that sacrifice was made.
We must not be ignorant to the plight of our neighbours and our brothers and sisters. We must not deliberately turn our eyes away from the injustices we know are prevailing.
Newspaper headlines remind us every day that we are neither isolated nor immune from the madness that is ravaging our communities. They remind us that tragedy can knock on the door for any one of us at any time.
The struggle for equality and dignity for all is far from over.
It will not be over until we unite in common purpose.
Leader of the Opposition
Chairman and Political Leader
United National Congress