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. 

In the News

Australian student union drops SodaStream competition

The boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign initiated by Palestinian civil society has been gaining strength since its launch in 2005. The aim of BDS is to pressure companies, universities and governments to cut ties with the apartheid state of Israel. It is an international campaign that has had many victories around the world.

Artists such as Elvis Costello, Snoop Dogg, Meg Ryan and Roger Waters have all refused to perform in Israel. Companies such as Alstom, the French transport multinational, lost a US$10 billion contract in Saudi Arabia.

The boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign initiated by Palestinian civil society has been gaining strength since its launch in 2005. The aim of BDS is to pressure companies, universities and governments to cut ties with the apartheid state of Israel. It is an international campaign that has had many victories around the world.

Artists such as Elvis Costello, Snoop Dogg, Meg Ryan and Roger Waters have all refused to perform in Israel. Companies such as Alstom, the French transport multinational, lost a US$10 billion contract in Saudi Arabia. Unions across the world, including Australia, have passed resolutions in support of the Palestinian call for an Israeli boycott until the basic demands of the campaign are met. Those demands are that Israel:

  1. End the occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantle the apartheid wall;
  2. Recognise the fundamental rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Last year the La Trobe University Student Union passed a motion supporting BDS. This year we discovered that for orientation day the student union was running a competition in which the prize was a soda machine. SodaStream is an Israeli company that manufactures and distributes home carbonating devices and flavourings for soft drinks. That sounds harmless enough, but its main plant is located in the industrial zone of Mishor Edomim. an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Kav LaOved, an NGO committed to protecting the rights of disadvantaged workers in Israeli companies, has reported that SodaStream factory workers, in particular Palestinians, are paid less than half the legal minimum wage.  It has described the factory as ‘one of the worst’ in terms of working conditions, with employees being fired if they complain.

Students for Palestine (SFP), a network of university activist groups formed in the wake of Israel’s invasion of Gaza in late 2008, which has supported the BDS campaign for a number of years, was outraged to discover that the student union was offering a SodaStream machine as a prize. Several students from SFP approached the student union about this product being on the BDS boycott list and argued that giving it away would be in violation to the motion passed by the student council.

After much argument, the student union removed the SodaStream machine as a prize. This is the first victory for the BDS campaign this year. It is a lesson to keep our eyes open for this sort of thing happening on campuses, making sure that we all take motions to student councils for student union support of BDS.

This win for solidarity with Palestine at La Trobe University shows that no fight is too small. If we had chosen to ignore this incident, we would not have made any advance in the BDS campaign, which is working towards ending the terror that Palestinians live under. Free Palestine!

http://www.sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7683:a-win-for-palestine-solidarity-at-latrobe-university&Itemid=602

 


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