GIS – 31 October 2014: The International Indentured Labour Route Project centered around Aapravasi Ghat and symbolising the story of some 500 000 Indentured Labourers, the vast majority from India who were recruited to work on the sugar cane plantations in Mauritius after the abolition of slavery, has been approved by UNESCO, announced the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr. Mookhesswur Choonee yesterday at a press conference in Port Louis.
According to him, Aapravasi Ghat is one of the oldest surviving entry and transit point associated with indentured labour. He recalled that more than 2.2 million indentured labourers were mobilised mostly from India to more than 26 countries in various parts of the world making it one of the greatest mass movement of the diaspora worldwide. Consequently, the International Indentured Labour Route Project will complement the Slave Route Project since both relate to the movement of a mass of people across continents, he said.
The process of Indentured Labour deserves to be studied in a more systematic, scientific and global manner, added Mr. Choonee. This project will contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of the movement of millions of peoples and cultures in that age; highlight the global transformations and culture interactions that has resulted from this history; and contribute to a culture of peace by promoting reflection on culture pluralism, intercultural dialogue, sustainable development and peace.
Moreover, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has proposed the constitution of a corpus of professionals in various fields such as history, anthropology, archaeology, heritage, amongst others, to elaborate an international database on Indentured Labour accessible worldwide. The database would disseminate information about such a major historical event and build a greater understanding and cooperation among peoples.
This project will play a significant role in securing international recognition of the role played by Indentured Labour which has shaped modern societies, said Minister Choonee, adding that this is important because Indentured Labour is under-researched and hardly known as part of colonial history.
He recalled that a secretariat of the International Indentured Labour Route Project is being established under the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund to conduct research and document the indenture experience in Mauritius and in other countries where the system existed; and set up national and international links with other countries.
Moreover, Memory of the World International Advisory Committee meeting in July 2015 will take a decision on the inclusion of the Indentured Immigration Records in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
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