8 December 2023

The SA BDS Coalition welcomes the report just released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) which “demonstrates that Israel is carrying out apartheid” through detailing specific actions that constitute persecution and apartheid – crimes against humanity considered among the most odious in international law.

The UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines this crime against humanity as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The HRW report examines concretely how Israel fits this definition.

We are also heartened by the fact that the South African Cabinet has finally signed off on our accession to the UN Apartheid Convention and we are confident it will soon be adopted in parliament.

Our government should acknowledge the role the international community played in taking action against apartheid South Africa by using our accession to the Convention to call out Israeli apartheid and play a decisive role within the UN system to end Israel’s impunity.

It is extremely significant that both HRW, a globally renowned NGO, as well as the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, have this year come out clearly against Israeli apartheid. The narrative amongst international human rights organisations has moved substantially towards characterising Israeli actions as crimes against humanity in terms of international law.

We call on the South African government to urgently support and implement the recommendations in the report which include targeted sanctions; an embargo on military and security equipment; establishment of a UN global envoy for crimes of apartheid the launch of a UN commission of enquiry to investigate systematic discrimination and repression in OPT; and an international commission of inquiry to investigate systematic discrimination and repression based on group identity in the OPT and Israel.

It is opportune that this Freedom Day as we remembered the support we received from the international community in our struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, we recommit and intensify the BDS campaign and maintain pressure on our government to take concrete actions against impunity for apartheid Israel.

As South Africa celebrates twenty-seven years since our historic first democratic elections in a unitary South Africa, we are reminded of the prescient words of former President Nelson Mandela: “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

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