Coalition of Caribbean Civil Society Organizations: A Call to Establish October 6th as the International Day Against Terrorism

Press Statement

By Coalition of Caribbean Civil Society Organizations

A Call To Designate October 6th as

International Day Against Terrorism

Background

The people of the Caribbean have had a collective historical experience which, since the early 15th Century, has been defined and shaped largely by genocide, enslavement, forced labour and a daily existence characterised by fear and uncertainty.  Despite a history defined by terror, our Caribbean has constructed its post-colonial life in pursuit of democracy, inclusiveness, dignity, peace and the non-interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations.  This commitment to peace has been enshrined in our conscious and deliberate definition of the Caribbean as a zone of peace, perhaps as catharsis for the many navigation wars which were fought in the Caribbean Sea, and the untold number of African bodies for whom the Atlantic Ocean served as their final resting place. 

We are confident that our pre and post-colonial historical experience has given the Caribbean the moral legitimacy to serve as a global voice on issues pertaining to human rights, economic upliftment, dignified living and a life free from terror for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or political persuasion.  It is against this background that a Coalition of Organizations, comprising the  Caribbean Chapter of the International Network In Defense of Humanity, the Clement Payne Movement (CPM), the Caribbean Pan-African Network (CPAN), the Global Afrikan Congress (GAC), the Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP), the Pan-African Coalition of Organizations (PACO), the Israel Lovell Foundation (ILF),  the Barbadian / Cuban Friendship Association, and Caribbean Against Apartheid In Palestine (CAAP) use the 46th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Cubana Airways flight over the territorial waters of Barbados to make a formal appeal to the United Nations to designate October 6th, as International Day Against Terrorism

Rationale

On the 1st of July 2016, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted Resolution 70/291, entitled “The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review”, and outlined therein the international community’s unwavering determination to prevent and combat terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations, as well as the UN’s ongoing commitment to actively pursue a comprehensive range of anti-terrorism initiatives, measures, programmes and policies. 

In furtherance of this resolution, and in this week of commemorative activities to mark the 1976 bombing of the Cubana Airways flight over Barbados we, the coalition of Civil Society Organizations (listed below), meet to make public our proposal that the United Nations should declare an “International Day Against Terrorism” and that the 6th day of October – the day that is eternally linked to the 1976 Cubana terrorist tragedy – should be chosen as the designated day.  

The idea of designating a “United Nations International Day Against Terrorism”, and the associated idea of calling upon all member states of the UN and their civil society organizations to use such a “Day” to highlight the evils and dangers of terrorism; to educate the people of the world about terrorism; to promote the UN’s anti-terrorism message and agenda; and to express a world-wide commitment to combat and eradicate terrorism, is fully consonant with the many public, educational and people-centered anti-terrorism initiatives detailed in General Assembly Resolution 70/291.  

It is noteworthy that while Resolution 70/291 affirms “the importance of education as a tool to prevent terrorism”, encourages civil society to engage in efforts to enhance the implementation of the UN’s anti-terrorism strategy, encourages UN member states to involve youth and other relevant sectors in the promotion of a culture of peace and tolerance, and outlines a plethora of anti-terrorism initiatives and programmes, it seemingly overlooked one very potentially powerful, high profile measure: namely, the designation of a UN “International Day Against Terrorism”.  

The United Nations has a noble tradition of designating “International Days” as a mechanism for highlighting and facilitating international mass mobilization around an issue. Such Days include International Holocaust Remembrance Day, International Women’s Day, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, International Day for the Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and the list goes on. 

Why October 6th – Why the Air Cubana Tragedy?

The historical record confirms that the 6th of October, 1976, the Air Cubana terrorist tragedy occupies a special precedent-setting place in the history of international terrorist atrocities.  

The reality is that a full quarter of a century before the perpetrators of the infamous September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attack conceived of the evil idea of using an in-flight civilian airliner as an instrument of terror, a cabal of anti-Cuba terrorists demonstrated the devilish horror of such a concept in the skies over the Caribbean island of Barbados!  

It was on the 6th day of October 1976 that — within minutes of a Cuban civilian airliner taking off from the national Airport in Barbados — a bomb that had been planted in the cabin of the aircraft by anti-Castro terrorists linked to and supported by the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) exploded! As had been planned, the devastating explosion caused the Cubana airplane to plunge into the waters of the Caribbean Sea in close proximity to the west coast of Barbados, and every single one of the 73 Cubans, Guyanese and North Koreans on board the aircraft perished in this precedent setting act of terrorism!   

In the aftermath of the downing of the Cubana airline, the people of Barbados were faced with the horrendous task of retrieving the mangled, dismembered bodies of the victims – mostly young Cuban athletes and Guyanese medical students – from the Caribbean Sea, and of coming to terms with the shock and trauma that this unprecedented act of butchery generated in that small 166 square mile island nation. 

The two master-minds of the terrorist bombing of Air Cubana Flight 455 – Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles – were arrested in Venezuela, but were never really held accountable and punished for their role in the Cubana tragedy! Indeed, Carriles evaded justice altogether when he escaped from his Venezuelan prison, while Bosch benefitted from a protracted 11 year trial, marred by a contamination of the evidence against him, and was ultimately acquitted. Furthermore, in the years after 1976, both of these arch terrorists were permitted to reside in the USA, and were given protection and support by the several Cuban-American counter-revolutionary terrorist organizations stationed in the city of Miami.  

Indeed, Carriles and Bosch became so emboldened by their US based support that in the mid 1990’s, Bosch embarked upon a new conspiracy to assassinate Fidel Castro, while Carriles masterminded and carried out a terrorist campaign to blow up hotels in Cuba.  

The Air Cubana terrorist atrocity is therefore particularly significant, in that it constitutes a convergence of state-sponsored terrorism and the use of a civilian airliner full of civilian passengers, as an instrument of terror directed at a national state. It is also an example of the dire consequences of permitting terrorists to benefit from any form of impunity.  

The selection of October 6th as the UN International Day Against Terrorism  has the  benefit of sending a very powerful message that there are to be no double standards where this issue of denouncing and eradicating terrorism is concerned! In the words of General Assembly Resolution 70/291, the international community must reaffirm that “all acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation (and) wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.” 

We make the appeal for October 6th to be designated as the International Day Against Terrorism in order that public consciousness against terrorism is not confined to the geo-political interests of great powers, and to guard against the error of globally condemning acts of terrorism only when they are perpetrated against great powers.  We propose October 6th not only because the Cubana Airways tragedy has served as an original template for many of the tragedies which have followed, but also because of the global and cosmopolitan nature of the tragedy, perpetrated in the airspace of a peaceful, neutral, non-aligned developing Caribbean state, Barbados.

Already several of the Governments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have signaled their willingness and intention to support this proposal and to undertake responsibility for placing the appropriate Resolution before the General Assembly of the United Nations.  Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been very proactive, and has already taken steps to bring the proposal to the attention of all of his fellow CARICOM heads of Government.

The Way Forward

Following this week of commemorative activities to mark the tragedy, the Coalition of Organizations will:

  • Write to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Bolivarian Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA) and will formally request that these multilateral organizations place this matter before the United Nations General Assembly through the modality of an appropriate Resolution. 

  • Engage with the Cuban Chapter of the International Network In Defense of Humanity and Cuba’s Institute For Friendship With The Peoples (ICAP) to formally request the Government of Cuba to support such an effort to introduce an appropriate Resolution before the General Assembly of the United Nations.

  • Launch and maintain a comprehensive international civil society education campaign in support of the entire effort, with critical support from the Cuban Chapter of the International Network In Defense of Humanity and the Institute For Friendship With The Peoples (ICAP).

We Invite the Barbadian, Caribbean and International media to participate with us as we undertake this important initiative on behalf of humanity.  Our collective Civilization will be the richer for it.

Caribbean Chapter of the International Network In Defense of Humanity

Clement Payne Movement (CPM)

Caribbean Pan-African Network (CPAN)

Global Afrikan Congress (GAC)

Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP),

Pan-African Coalition of Organizations (PACO)

Israel Lovell Foundation (ILF)

Barbadian / Cuban Friendship Association,

Caribbean Against Apartheid In Palestine