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

Two UK universities dump G4S

Student campaigners at King's College London hold a demonstration calling on the university not to award a lucrative security contract to G4S

Student campaigners at King’s College London hold a demonstration calling on the university not to award a lucrative security contract to G4S.

(KCL Action Palestine)

Two major

Student campaigners at King's College London hold a demonstration calling on the university not to award a lucrative security contract to G4S

Student campaigners at King’s College London hold a demonstration calling on the university not to award a lucrative security contract to G4S.

(KCL Action Palestine)

Two major UK universities have opted not to award G4S control of campus security services following student campaigns criticizing the company. G4S has a major role in providing security and equipment to Israeli prisons, settlements and checkpoints.

G4S had been a front runner to win major contracts at both King’s College London(KCL) and the University of Southampton, having already supplied services to the two universities.

But last week both announced that they had chosen to hire other companies to manage and run security on campus.

King’s College London Action Palestine, the student Palestine solidarity group that initiated a campus campaign against G4S, said in a statement that the decision was due to a “continuous effort of resistance and support by the KCL students and staff.”

KCL Action Palestine organized a protest on campus and a petition signed by more than 500 students. They successfully passed a motion in the KCL student union in support of the campaign, mandating the student union to back its campaign and lobby the university against G4S.

The visible and broadly-supported mobilization against G4S certain seems to have impacted the final decision.

In a letter to KCL student union environment and ethics officer Alberto Torres, a representative of King’s College London university management said that the university was “willing to consider the views of students and other stakeholders about services provided under contract which may affect them.”

Celebration

Palestinian civil society organizations had originally called for campaigns against G4S on the eve of the spring 2012 hunger strike by 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners. G4S was targeted for its role equipping to Israeli prisons at which Palestinians are held without trial and subjected to torture.

Student campaigners at the University of Southampton are also celebrating after their university announced on Thursday that it had decided not to award G4S a contract to provide security on campus. In a statement, University of Southampton Students for Palestine said:

We commend this decision and are glad to say that we have been assured, on behalf of the University, that student concerns are recognized and highly valued. The University invited activists to further discuss matters relating to its ethical investment and procurement policy with the hope of adopting a more comprehensive policy that truly reflects the moral ideals held by its students and the community.

A petition and public statement organized by University of Southampton Students for Palestine was signed by 24 student societies, with signatories ranging from the Marxist Society to the Taekwondo club.

In addition to raising concerns about its role in Israel’s prison system, the successful student campaigns at King’s and Southampton also both vocally opposed G4S’ role in abuses in the UK migration and deportation system.

In October 2010, 46-year-old Angolan Jimmy Mubenga was killed after G4S guards used “unreasonable force” to pin him down during deportation. An inquest in Augustfound he had been unlawfully killed.

Student campaigns against G4S are also underway at several other UK universities,including at the University of Birmingham.

Growing momentum

The news of UK universities opting not to award G4S lucrative contracts followsdecisions to exclude G4S from the contract tendering processes at universities in Oslo and Bergen in Norway due to their complicity with Israeli apartheid.

The international campaign against G4S has seen public bodies, nongovernmental organizations and financial institutions across the world terminate their contracts with G4S.

Last week, the renowned Trauma Centre in Cape Town terminated their ties and contract with G4S. The chairperson of the Trauma Centre, which played a crucial role in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, explained the decision in apublic statement:

The Trauma Centre is committed to creating a society free from violence and torture and committed to a culture of human rights … we therefore note with great concern the serious allegations leveled against the security company G4S of complicity in the illegal incarceration and torture of Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories … such acts would violate the very principles which form the basis of our existence as a human rights organisation. It is because of these serious concerns, which violate our fundamental values, that the Board of the Trauma Centre has decided to terminate our organisation’s relationship with G4S.


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