CFP salutes Vavi for speaking truth to power
Cii News | 09 October 2012
The newly constitute Coalition for a free Palestine (CFP) has lauded Zwelinzima Vavi, the secretary – general of South Africa’s powerful trade union federation, Cosatu, for his statement at the Russel Tribunal in New York.
“The Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP), the largest Palestinian solidarity coalition in South Africa, applauds Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi for so powerfully speaking up and out for justice and freedom for the Palestinian people at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, held over the weekend in New York (October 6-7, 2012),” the statement noted.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) is an International People’s Tribunal created by a large group of citizens involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East. Members include Nobel Prize laureates, a former United Nations Secretary-General, two former heads of state, former politician, representatives of civil society, writers, journalists, poets, actors, film directors, scientists, professors, lawyers and judges.
According to the Tribunals website, proceedings comprise a number of sessions which deal with different aspects of complicities and omissions by states, international organisations and corporations in the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel and the perpetuation of the violations of international law committed by Israel.
The CFP noted that South Africans remain grateful to the international community for their stance against apartheid and that, “Vavi sent a strong message to the Palestinian people, reminding them that the world has not forgotten them or their plight.”
“I know what life was like under a brutal regime supported by equally brutal employers whose profits depended on the creation and maintenance of slavery conditions. I know the pain of humiliation, deprivation and hunger. I have known what it is like to sleep in the open in the middle of the coldest winter night following the eviction of my parents in the farms,” Vavi said.
“I believe that whilst apartheid was atrocious beyond the description of words, the difference between South Africa and Palestine is that the latter is facing an aggressive attempt to drive all the citizens of the country into exile and take away their right to their citizenship. Today only 20% of the land that used to be in the hands of the people of Palestine remains. As we heard yesterday, Palestinians constitute the biggest group of refugees in the world, with over 6 million having been forced to flee,” he added.
Concluding the Tribunal on its fourth and final day on Monday, it declared that Israel has achieved a status of immunity and impunity by their complete disregard for the norms and standards of international law.
The SABC reported that the tribunal examined the role of the United Nations (UN) and the United States (US), finding that both were complicit in Israel’s ‘international wrongful acts.
*The Coalition for a Free Palestine includes youth groups, trade unions, human rights organisations, faith based groups, artists collectives, student organisations and political parties. Some member organizations include the South African Council of Churches, Congress of South African Trade Unions, African National Congress, South African Communist Party, Muslim Judicial Council, Muslim Students Association, Palestine Solidarity Alliance, Palestine Solidarity Committee, Palestine Solidarity Group, and the Media Review Network.
Ebrahim Moosa – Cii News | 04 October 2012
Despite having its hands tied by increasingly turbulent labour relations in South Africa coupled with the challenges posed by breakaway unions, South Africa’s largest trade union federation remains resolute in its commitment to the Palestinian cause.
Addressing participants at the launch of an historic pro-Palestinian solidarity alliance in Johannesburg, the Coalition for a Free Palestine(CFP), COSATU President Sdumo Dlamini reaffirmed his movements belief that the South African and Palestinian quests for freedom were inextricably linked.
“We believe that until Palestine is free, even South Africa remains with an incomplete assignment of freeing itself,” he said, echoing the familiar refrain of former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Dlamini asserted that COSATU were not outsiders to the cause of Palestinian solidarity, but rather had been active players in the field for some time. He cited an example of the outspokenness of COSATU’s international relations secretary Bongani Masuku at a symposium in Canada to illustrate what he said was the movement’s unflinching commitment to achieving justice for Palestinians, even internationally. “Whilst he(Masuku) was championing the cause of the Palestinians, a delegation of some Americans and Israelis approached me to complain, and demanded he be excluded from the conference as they interpreted his statements as inciting towards violence against Israel. (But we stood by him) as this is an ideal that COSATU believes in.”
The trade union leader said he was gratified by the formation of the umbrella body, calling it a “bold and important statement” that needed to be supported by all progressive formations who sought to contribute to the Palestinian cause in a more visible and meaningful way.
“We will within our power, within our ability, ensure that this campaign is escalated both in South Africa and anywhere in the world – this is how massive this campaign is, anywhere we go, COSATU does not forget to say ‘Remember the people of Palestine (who) live on a daily basis under massive mistreatment from the Israelis, the Americans and everybody who hates freedom.’ “
COSATU President Sdumo Dlamini at the launch of the Coalition for a Free Palestine(CFP)
The President of the largest of the country’s trade union federations, with 21 affiliated movements representing a collective of 1.8 million workers, said he was optimistic about the prospects for Palestinian freedom.
“The people of Palestine must be free, and this freedom is growing nigh; its drawing closer; we’re almost there.”
Historic Palestinian Solidarity Coalition Launched
JOHANNESBURG – Palestinian solidarity efforts in South Africa have been charged a breath of fresh air, with the launch of the Coalition for a Free Palestine(CFP) in Johannesburg this week.
The initiative endorsed by a broad range of civil society organisations seeks to develop a clear, well co-ordinated and sustained programme of action for solidarity activities in support of Palestine. In attendance at the launch hosted by COSATU House on Friday were representatives from the ANC, COSATU, National Union of Mineworkers(NUM), South African Municipal Workers Union(SAMWU), The Palestine Solidarity Alliance(PSA), Al Quds Foundation, Boycott Divestment Sanctions(BDS), Jamiatul Ulama and others.
Coalition convener Tahir Sema said the principles guiding the work of the organisation were chosen carefully to accommodate divergent voices in the solidarity movement. “All organisations will never agree on the ideological posture of certain campaigns nor will they agree on everything we discuss with regard to Palestinian solidarity. (However) these set of principles are going to ensure that we all unite on the lowest common denominator to ensure unity in our solidarity.”
A founding document for the Coalition, adopted at the launch, lists among these guiding principles opposition to the illegal occupation and siege on Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the continued construction of the Apartheid Wall and settlements. It also berates the US, EU and others for their contempt shown to Palestinian democracy in the wake of the Palestinian elections of 2006, draws attention to Israeli war crimes during its Gaza invasion and highlights the continued exile of millions of Palestinian refugees.
Organisers say the CFP was inspired and humbled by international solidarity that turned the tide for the oppressed during the struggle against apartheid, and now wanted to repay this to the Palestinian people who were fighting for the just solution of a democratic state for all citizens. “After the defeat of Apartheid, the workers movement and the masses of South Africa did not forget their historic duty to recognise the Palestinian struggle as a continuing part of their own revolutionary struggles,” read a draft of the Founding Document.
The umbrella body which will embrace youth groups, trade unions, human rights and faith based organisations, artists collectives and political parties announced that its campaigns seek to send a clear signal to all those locally and globally who are keen to maintain the oppression of Palestinians. “Our solidarity knows no borders and we are keen to work with all who share our values for a new, just and democratic world order.”
Speaking at the launch, visiting Palestinian academic Professor Mustafa Abu Sway welcomed the establishment of the formation. “Let alone the light at the end of the tunnel, Palestinians do not even manage to see the tunnel..(Nonethless) such a coalition is very, very important for us. It sends us the message that we are not alone. It tells us that we should not be desperate, we should not be frustrated. It is very important that the world stands with us and I hope that this coalition will be repeated elsewhere(in other countries).”
As part of its strategic focus, the CFP will ensure information sharing and networking among member organisations and work towards the implementation of commonly agreed programmes and actions. It also envisages the convening of regular open meetings and the scheduling of an annual conference.