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

Israel must be held accountable for its collective punishment of Palestinians

The Israeli military has conducted hundred of raids across the West Bank and launched dozens of attacks on Gaza...

  - Palestinian organisations condemn Israeli operations in West Bank and Gaza as collective punishment - Palestinians call for military embargo and boycott action Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists are urging governments and international civil society to take action to hold Israel to account for its continued collective punishment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza following the disappearance and killing of three Israeli settlers. Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the civil society coalition that leads and supports the BDS movement, said: "Israel's on-going actions are designed to terrorise Palestinians and constitute collective punishment. Military violence, collective punishment and the deliberate targeting of civilians are endemic to Israel’s of decades old system of occupation, colonisation and apartheid." "Israel is able to act with utter impunity because of the military, economic and political support it receives from governments around the world. We call on international governments to impose a two-way arms embargo immediately and to suspend bilateral agreements until Israel fully complies with international law”. "At a time when mainstream bodies such as the Bill Gates Foundation, the Presbyterian Church USA and the US​ United Methodist Church are divesting from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation, including G4S and Hewlett Packard, we call on people of conscience to intensify BDS pressure." Shuabi also called on people of conscience and supporters of BDS to consider joining the Month Against the Apartheid Wall that is marking the 10th anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling that Israel's apartheid Wall is illegal. Hundreds of military raids have been launched across the occupied West Bank since June 12, with more than 1000 private homes and refugee camps and the offices of civil society organisations ransacked. At least 10 Palestinians have been killed and many more have been injured. More than 500 Palestinians have been detained and initial reports suggest that many of those arrested are held under administrative detention, a form of detention without charge or trial on secret evidence. The number of children held in Israeli jails has risen to 250. Israel has also imposed severe restrictions of movement. On Wednesday, Israeli settlers kidnapped and killed a 16 year old from the Shuafat area of Palestinian East Jerusalem and Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem. Palestinian organisations have detailed how Israel's recent actions constitute collective punishment, a crime prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as customary international humanitarian law. Israeli occupation forces have also targeted the campuses of Birzeit University near Ramallah and the Arab American University in Jenin, resulting in the detention and arrest of students and staff and greatly infringing the Palestinian right to education. Samia Botmeh, a professor at Birzeit University and a steering committee member with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said: "Israel’s latest violations against Palestinian universities are part of its long history of oppression aimed at Palestinian education. Closure of universities for periods stretching to years, murder and detention of students and professors, destruction of universities’ properties and labs as well as the banning of lists of books have been Israel’s systematic policies targeting Palestinian education." "It must be emphasized that throughout the decades of oppression, no Israeli university or association of Israeli academics has ever protested the sustained assaults on Palestinian universities.  It is essential to intensify all forms of BDS, including the academic and cultural boycott, until Israel ends its violations of Palestinian rights." Israel has conducted at least 100 airstrikes and shellings of Gaza in recent days, including an intense bombing of dozens of locations in the early hours of Tuesday, further worsening the situation for Palestinians in Gaza, which has been under a brutal military siege for more than 7 years. Haidar Eid, associate professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza and a PACBI steering committee member, said: "We, residents of Gaza, have been unable to fathom how it is that official bodies of the international community tolerate blatant war crimes committed against the people of Gaza, in spite of thousands of reports by mainstream human rights organizations!" "Is it farfetched to expect people of conscience to heed our call to boycott this intransigent, racist and militarized Israeli regime and the institutions that keep it thriving, the same way apartheid South Africa was boycotted until it crumbled?" Ayah Abubasheer, a youth and BDS activist in Gaza, added: "During the past few weeks, Israel has been violently and intensely launching a series of air strikes against the Gaza Strip. The population of the Gaza Strip continues to pay the price and bear the blaze of Israel's polices." "Because collective punishment is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, we urge the international community to pressure Israel to end its all-out military assault aimed against the total population of Gaza, open Rafah crossing permanently and heed our call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions."  


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