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

Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak calls for Israel to be stripped of privilege of hosting UEFA football tournaments

October 17, 2012
/ By /

Mahmoud Sarsak is a Palestinian footballer who has played for the Palestinian national team. He was released from prison by Israel in July after three years of detention and 92 days of hunger strike that was supported by people of conscience all over the world, including prominent football figures.

Mahmoud Sarsak is a Palestinian footballer who has played for the Palestinian national team. He was released from prison by Israel in July after three years of detention and 92 days of hunger strike that was supported by people of conscience all over the world, including prominent football figures. In this appeal, he calls for action to pressure UEFA to strip Israel of the right to host major football tournaments. The men's under-21 European Championship and the women's under-19 European Championship are due to take place in Israel in 2013 and 2015 respectively. 

On July 10 of this year I was released after three years of imprisonment by the Israeli occupation forces and 92 days of hunger strike. The mobilisation by people of conscience around the world and the statements and comments by footballing organisations like FIFPro, professional footballers past and present such as Eric Cantona and Frederic Kanoute, senior football figures such as Sepp Blatter and other notable public figures, were both inspiring and immensely helpful in keeping the pressure on Israel and a major reason behind my eventual release.

I would like to offer my deepest, heartfelt gratitude to all those who spoke out against the inhumane treatment of Palestinians at a time when I and other hunger striking Palestinian political prisoners needed it most.

However, the arbitrary detention, abuse and torture of Palestinian political prisoners continue. Prisoner rights organisations have particular concerns about three who are on extended hunger strike -  Samer Al-Barq, Hassan Safadi and Ayman Sharawna.

Israel works endlessly to repress Palestinian football, just like it does many other forms of Palestinian culture. Palestinian league player Mohammed Sadi Nemer and goalkeeper Omar Khaled Omar Abu Rowis were detained in February this year and remain in prison.

Football players Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshate, as well as over 1,400 other Palestinians in Gaza, were killed and the Rafah National Stadium was destroyed during Israel’s 2008-09 onslaught on Gaza.[1]

Israel does not behave like a normal state where citizens can play sport freely. Why then, should it be granted the honour of hosting the UEFA U21s championship in 2013, or the women’s U19s in 2015? As stated in a letter from Gaza sports clubs to UEFA president Michel Platini, we must not “reward Israel for its violent repression of Palestinian rights”.[2]

Platini has cruelly stated that the 2013 tournament will “be a beautiful celebration of football that, once again, will bring people together”.[3] But by allowing Israel to host it, UEFA is legitimising Israel’s continued occupation, oppression and apartheid policies. There can be no place in football for segregation and oppression so prestigious tournaments cannot be allowed to take place in Israel.

I call on all those who spoke out for my release and the release of the Palestinian hunger strikers, to once again show their commitment to justice and equality by insisting that UEFA move their competitions away from Israel.

The cultural and sporting boycott and other forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) were vital in the fall of the South African apartheid regime, and similar initiatives will be vital to ending Israeli apartheid.

Mahmoud Sarsak

October 17, 2012
/ By /

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