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

Scottish city council excludes Veolia

A pro-Palestinian pressure group claimed success last week after Edinburgh Council rejected an attempt by a controversial firm to take over a range of public contracts.

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) had argued that Veolia should be ex

A pro-Palestinian pressure group claimed success last week after Edinburgh Council rejected an attempt by a controversial firm to take over a range of public contracts.

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) had argued that Veolia should be excluded from Council contracts because of the company's involvement in Israel's Occupation of Palestine.

Veolia had been shortlisted to take over environmental services contracts, including refuse collection and street cleaning, but a Council report published Friday indicated that the firm is no longer being considered. This latest blow for Veolia comes on top of similar multi-billion pound losses around the world, and is likely to add to the pressure on the firm to cease providing waste and transport services to Israel's illegal settlements in Palestine, including the construction of a tramway that the United Nations Human Rights Council deems, "in clear violation of international law".  The line is set to link Israel with some of its illegal settlements.

Council leaders also heard from leading law firm, Hickman & Rose, who warned that employing the French multinational could expose the local authority to "legal action for failing to take on board their obligation to recognise and comply with their duties and responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions and international law."

Green Councilor Maggie Chapman, who had campaigned for Veolia's exclusion, was pleased the Council had moved in line with other local authorities such as Swansea and Dublin who had already chosen to distance themselves from the multinational. "It is not enough for us to use warm words in support of the Palestinian people; we have to act on our convictions. Veolia props up the illegal Occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territories, and the Council should have no part in such despicable activities."

The Labour group had also argued for a boycott of the company. Said Councilor Angela Blacklock, "Veolia provides services to illegal settlements in Occupied Palestinian land and is therefore complicit in grave breaches of international and human rights law committed by the state of Israel".

Unison activist, Marlyn Tweedie, is campaigning against the Council's Alternative Business Model (ABM) plans to privatise public services generally, but said she was pleased about the rejection of Veolia's bid specifically. "It's bad enough that the Council intends to privatise essential public services, but it would have really rubbed salt in our wounds if Veolia had won the bid."

SPSC Chair, Mick Napier, said the decision was "a victory for human rights". He continued, "We have a duty to stand with the Palestinians and against the Israeli Occupation. Any company that helps maintain that illegal Occupation should not be surprised when local authorities chose to avoid them."

This article was originally published at the website of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity campaign here.


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