A cold clear Saturday in November. Hundreds of people have gathered on Sergelstorg in the heart of Stockholm to protest. We are here to protest slavery. I simply cannot fathom that this is actually happening - an anti-slavery protest in 2017. Yet, we know that there are more slaves today than in any previous point in history, with more than 40 million people being exploited around the world (Global Slavery Index 2016).
Today, we are protesting the slave trade in Libya. African lives that are being auctioned for $400 as CNN reported, it obviously reminds us of two of the worst chapters in human history, the Atlantic and Arab slave trade.
Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come is sung from stage. People chime in. Different speakers, sub-cultural profiles, take the floor. Swedish politicians are accused of not speaking up. Swedish media are accused of not reporting enough. Representation is failing and important voices go unheard. The proximity principle does not apply when you are in a position of privilege.
Meanwhile, there are Swedish citizens of African origin who get a call and learn that one of their relatives is captured in northern-Africa and that a ransom is demanded. What is the price of a human life… They pay, time and again, regardless of the increase. It is easy to see how the world is more interconnected than ever before.
One speaker reminds us that even if you cannot relate through relatives, everyone can relate as a fellow human being. As someone who believes that every life is free. We are encouraged to be the voice of change, in our homes, at our kitchen tables. Because the idea that one human life would be less valuable than another’s starts in our minds, with our perceptions, ideas and prejudices.
The protest is ending and I walk home with a heavy heart. I realize that the current migration situation in the world is vast and complicated. And that the problems of failed state Libya are many. But the auctioning of human lifes is beyond any opinion or discussion. It is simply evil. And we must do everything in our power to end its practise.