By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Sat. Mar. 5, 2022: Two prominent black Jamaican attorneys have joined with renowned US attorney Benjamin Crump and other prominent civil rights lawyers from around the world to file an appeal to the United Nations on behalf of Black refugees, including Jamaicans, facing discrimination while trying to flee Ukraine.
Professor Rosalea Hamilton, founding director of the Institute of Law and Economics in Jamaica, and Anthony Hylton, Jamaican member of parliament and attorney, have joined the alliance.
Professor Rosalea Hamilton.
Hamilton, at a news conference hosted by Crump and Jasmine Rand, noted that Jamaica awaits more details of the “horrible experiences” lived by Jamaican students in Ukraine and will share them moving forward.
“Jamaicans have watched with deep concern the plight of our students in Ukraine,” she said. “It is imperative that we stand strong and we built a strong coalition to fight against all forms of racial discrimination facing people African descent across the world. In 2022, we ought not to be fighting for basic human rights and being treated as human beings; the fact that we’re doing this speaks volumes to where we are.”
Professor Hamilton then proceeded to quote lines from ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, a reggae song composed by Peter Tosh and Bob Marley – musicians who she described as “two of Jamaica’s strongest human rights advocates”.
“We are ready to get up, stand up and stand up for our rights,” she added.
Hylton added: “What we’re witnessing is Black people of African descent fighting two wars – one against the Russians and the other against racial discrimination in Ukraine itself and Polish law enforcement officers.”
“We particularly want the UN to hold accountable those governments who, either through policies or practices, are encouraging discriminating against people,” Hylton said. “I think it’s high time the international community and the UN in particularly step into this space, because this is not the first time we’ve seen people of Africans descent treated in disparate ways.”
The coalition’s appeal comes after both the Ukrainian government and the UN acknowledged that some refugees had been subjected to racially discriminatory treatment after their experiences were dismissed as lies and “Russian disinformation” by online commentators.
Crump said “This is an urgent matter, and the UN has the power to ring the alarm. For whatever reasons we don’t think that alarm has been rang. How many more guns have to be put to the heads of descendants of Africans, how many have to be told to get off the train or go to the back of the bus before the UN says: ‘This is an urgent matter’?”
“Our sympathy for the Ukrainian people in this conflict remains unstinting; at the same time we cannot allow that to dilute our vigilance in resisting racism against Black students who have been trying to leave Ukraine under these circumstances,” he added.
JAMAICAN STUDENTS’ DISCRIMINATION
Jamaicans were among students on a bus from Lviv to the Polish border that was attacked by an angry mob on Sunday, Feb. 27th, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith.
The students then opted to walk instead of turning back and during the trek, two of the group fell and one had to receive medical care in an ambulance.
Prior to their voyage, one of the group members was reportedly threatened with a gun by a “white Ukrainian” in an incident described as racist. He was ordered to disembark a train to Lviv, temporarily splitting him up from his peers.
During an interview with Jamaican cable network TVJ, his pal told anchor Giovanni Dennis: “While getting on the train, a Ukrainian actually put a gun to his head and told him that he needs to get off the train so he couldn’t get to Lviv.”
“So because of that his journey got delayed and he had to come back to the train station another day in order to get on a train to Lviv,” he added.