Palestinian BNC Mourns Loss of Anti-Apartheid Icon Ahmed Kathrada

March 28, 2017, Occupied Palestine —The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) has heard with great sadness the news of Comrade Ahmed Kathrada’s passing. Mr. Kathrada, born to an Indian Muslim family, was the most prominent Asian South African in the movement to end apartheid, the system of racial discrimination, segregation and white dominance that existed in South Africa until it was defeated in 1994.

Comrade Kathrada was also an active and consistent supporter of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. He visited Palestine, and saw the apartheid system we endure for himself. He said when in Palestine: "In our short stay here we have seen and heard enough to conclude that Apartheid has been reborn here. In its reborn form it is however worse than its predecessor. Even during the worst days of Apartheid we did not have walls to divide and control people, we also did not have separate roads for separate races, and we did not have the system of checkpoints that exist here."

The Foundation which bears his name engages in activities in support of Israeli Apartheid Week, which aims to raise awareness of Israel's apartheid policies towards Palestinians. It also supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, believing that this is the way to bring an end to Israel's apartheid policies and violations of international law. 

Kathrada’s own long imprisonment — 26 years and 3 months — alongside the anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and his lifelong struggle against apartheid and injustice are an example to all Palestinians that integrity and perseverance will lead to justice and freedom.

The BDS movement is working to increase international civil society and government support for the Palestinian struggle for justice. We were honored to count Comrade Kathrada as a supporter of our struggle and remain inspired by his life.

We send out our condolences to his family, friends, comrades and all South Africans during these difficult days.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. 

BNC Statement

“Racism and Racial Discrimination are the Antithesis of Freedom, Justice & Equality”

Statement of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) reiterating the BDS Movement’s Position against All Forms of Racism and Racial Discrimination

The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for freedom, justice and equality of the Palestinian people is an inclusive, nonviolent human rights movement that rejects all forms of racism and racial discrimination. The movement is led by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian political parties, labor and professional unions, networks of refugees, popular committees and organizations.

The 2005 Palestinian civil society Call for BDS, which calls for ending Israel’s flagrant violations of international law and for safeguarding the human rights of the Palestinian people, is anchored in the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As the Declaration stipulates, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and everyone is entitled to all fundamental rights and freedoms “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Based on this principled commitment of the BDS movement to the equal rights of every human being, irrespective of identity, we stand firmly against political ideologies, laws, policies and practices that promote racism. We reject Zionism, as it constitutes the racist and discriminatory ideological pillar of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid that has deprived the Palestinian people of its fundamental human rights since 1948.

Adhering to the UN definition of racial discrimination, the BDS movement does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, or homophobia.

We strongly condemn apartheid, genocide, slavery, colonial exploitation and ethnic cleansing, which are crimes against humanity that are founded on racism and racial supremacy, and we call for the right of their victims, including descendants, to full reparation. We equally condemn and stand in solidarity with the victims of other human rights violations including human trafficking, workers’ exploitation, and sexual exploitation.

Guided by the inclusive agenda of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa, the principles of the BDS movement include the values of cultural diversity, solidarity and mutual support among victims of racism and racial discrimination.

Based on these values, we stand in solidarity with people of African descent, indigenous peoples, landless people, refugees and migrants, people exploited and oppressed for the economic advancement of a few, and those discriminated against and persecuted for their beliefs or identity, including caste. We stand with their respective struggles for racial, economic, gender, environmental and social justice.

We extend our support to all marginalized communities, inter alia Arab, Black, indigenous, Muslim, Jewish, Asian, Latino, Roma and Dalit, who are targets of xenophobic and far-right racist movements that have risen or are rising to power, particularly in the US, Europe, South America, India and elsewhere.

We also stand in solidarity with the struggles of all minorities in the Arab world against racism and racial discrimination and for full equality and justice.

The principles of the BDS movement call for proactive solidarity with oppressed communities worldwide and with all the victims of racist acts and rhetoric, as ours is a common cause. We support their resistance, in harmony with international law, against bigotry, racist ideologies and practices.

Racism and racial discrimination are the antithesis of freedom, justice and equality.


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