This new year’s eve, 31 December 2009, thousands of people and activists from all over the world will gather in Gaza for a historic march against the naked brutality being carried out by Israel in enforcing the illegal occupation there. A COSATU delegation, together with other South Africans, including former Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, will be part of the march to the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel. Its aim is to focus international attention on the ongoing and inhumane siege of Gaza and its population of 1.5 million people.
Marking the one-year anniversary of the December 2008 Israeli massacre that killed more than 1,400 people — mostly civilians — thousands of Arab and Jewish activists, intellectuals, artists, professionals, trade unionists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors, among others will express solidarity with beleaguered Palestinians in Gaza.
COSATU will join the global march to pledge our continued support for the freedom of all Palestinians, for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and, specifically, for the lifting of the siege on Gaza.
Israel’s blockade of Gaza is an unashamed violation of international law and is collective punishment which has led to massive suffering. For South Africans who lived through our own crime against humanity, we cannot but fully support the condemnation by United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Richard Falk, of Israel’s siege of Gaza as a "crime against humanity."
Amnesty International has called the Gaza blockade "a form of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza, a flagrant violation of Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention." Human Rights Watch has called it a "serious violation of international law". The law is clear. Yet, the siege of Gaza continues, along with the myriad of other illegal acts Israel continues to perpetuate within the Palestinian territories and against Palestinians.
A COSATU delegation has just returned from a meeting organised by UK trade unions and solidarity movements to build support for a global campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. It was a hugely successful programme also involving academics. The global momentum generated is unstoppable and can only build more unity and resoluteness on the part of the global BDS movement.
In the words of South Africa’s great statesman, Nelson Mandela, "Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." Supporting the brave and heroic people of Palestine is therefore a moral, political and collective responsibility of all who are opposed to apartheid as a heinous crime against humanity. The global BDS movement is the only remaining hope for peaceful pressure against Israel and must be supported by all progressive agents of peace and change globally.
Bongani Masuku (International Relations Secretary)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
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