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

BDS Victory: Alstom loses Saudi Haramain Railway contract worth $10B

Photo credit: Adri Nieuwhof

The BDS National Committee (BNC) has declared a long sought-after victory as Alstom lost the bid for the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, worth $10 billion US dollars, after pressure from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, including e

Photo credit: Adri Nieuwhof

The BDS National Committee (BNC) has declared a long sought-after victory as Alstom lost the bid for the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, worth $10 billion US dollars, after pressure from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, including effective campaigning from the newly launched KARAMA, a European campaign to Keep Alstom Rail And Metro Away.

In 2008 the BNC, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, with partners in Europe and Israel, launched the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, due to the two companies’ involvement in Israel’s illegal Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR) project, which explicitly aims to “Judaize Jerusalem,” according to official Israeli statements, by cementing Israel’s hold on the illegal colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in and around Jerusalem. Since then, Veolia has lost more than $12B worth of contracts following boycott activism in Sweden, the UK, Ireland and elsewhere. Alstom, too, suffered substantial blows when the Swedish national pension fund AP7 excluded it from its investment portfolio, after having been excluded from the Dutch ASN Bank due to the company’s involvement in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, and has recently announced its intention to withdraw from the project.

The decision is in line with a decision adopted by consensus at the Arab Summit held in Khartoum in 2006 which condemned in the JLR project and called on “the two French companies [Alstom and Veolia] to immediately withdraw from the project,” and demanding that punitive measures be taken against them “if they don’t comply.” The Arab Summit also urged the French government to take the necessary measure in this respect to honor its obligations under international law. In March 2010, the UN’s Human Rights Council denounced Israel’s JLR project for being “in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.”

In commenting on the fierce competition between the Alstom-led consortium and its Spanish-led rival over the second phase of the lucrative Haramain Railway project, Emirati newspaper, Al-Ittihad, referred to "multiple factors" affecting the decision to award the contract, suggesting that political factors may have been taken into consideration.

The BNC and several partners have used private and public channels to urge the Saudi leadership to exclude Alstom from the second phase of this large project which will connect by rail Mecca with Medina after Alstom had won the much smaller contract for the first phase.

In 2009, BNC member organizations, Stop the Wall and the Civic Coalition to Defend Palestinians' Rights in Jerusalem, have produced in-depth research about Alstom's involvement in Israel's illegal JLR project. Copies were sent to Saudi officials, prompting Palestinian leaders to address Saudi authorities urging them to exclude Alstom from their contracts.

Jamal Juma’a, Stop the Wall coordinator and BNC Secretariat member commented on the news saying: “This huge victory will be celebrated in the BDS campaign worldwide. We are hopeful that this will be the first of many decisions to kick Alstom out of the Arab world and beyond, sharply raising the price of its collusion in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.”

“The campaign to derail Veolia and Alstom will continue until they have ended their complicity with Israeli apartheid, and have paid reparations for the damage their actions have caused.”

“The global Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign has sent a strong message to corporations aiding Israel’s violations of international law: the price of their complicity will be extremely high.”

“We are deeply grateful to all our global BDS partners who made this happen through three years of diligent and effective campaigning.”

BDS National Committee (BNC)

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

*Business Week reporting Alstom’s loss of the bid: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-26/al-shoula-led-group-wins-saudi-contract-for-haramain-railway.html

*Al-Ittihad first reported on the issue on its Arabic website
http://www.alittihad.ae/details.php?id=70106&y=2011%20#%20ixzz1bj8qviOo

*The BNC is the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, representing a majority of Palestinian mass organizations, trade unions and networks: http://www.bdsmovement.net/BNC

*The BDS campaign was started in 2005 by Palestinian civil society. It calls for applying various forms of boycotts against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law and ends its occupation and colonization; ends its system of racial discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, which fits the UN definition of apartheid; and grants Palestinian refugees their right of return in accordance with UN resolution 194.

*A brief history on the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, including a timelines of previous successes, can be viewed online. http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/veoliaalstom. More information specifically on the financial institutions that have sold their shares in Alstom is available at http://electronicintifada.net/content/divestment-campaign-gains-momentum-europe/8151

*The full text of the UN Human Rights Council motion condemning the JLR is available online
http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/262DD94458BA4CA2852576F000701580

*The 2006 Arab Summit :“condemned the [JLR] project that aims to connect West Jerusalem with areas in the West Bank through occupied East Jerusalem, and affirms the illegality of this action, and calls on the two French companies [Alstom and Veolia] to immediately withdraw from the project, and take action against them if they don’t comply, and we invite the French government to take the needed decision in this area based on its obligations under international law.” http://www.sis.gov.eg/VR/arab2008/arabic/html/sudan2.pdf

*More information about the newly launched KARAMA, a European campaign to Keep Alstom Rail And Metro Away, is available on their website
http://derailalstom.org/

*The documents compiled by Palestinian organisations in support of the campaign are available online: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2009/jerusalem-light-railway-effects-legal-implications-591
http://www.stopthewall.org/downloads/pdf/alstom.pdf

 


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