Statement on #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners by SA’s International Relations Deputy Ministernc4psouthafrica
Message from South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Nomaindia Mfeketo on the occasion of the 24 hour #DignityStrike fast in solidarity with #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners
15 May 2017
It is with a heavy heart that I, along with many other South Africans from all walks of life embark on this symbolic 24 hour #DignityStrikeSA solidarity hunger fast to lend our support to the #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners on hunger strike.
The history we have makes us particularly saddened by the protracted hunger strike that Palestinians have embarked on in their demands for an end to Israel’s detention without trial and in protest against other Israeli human rights violations.
To many of us our solidarity in this campaign is very personal because of our own experience under Apartheid. We too, like the heroic Palestinians, were once called terrorists. We, like the Palestinians, were detained. We, like the Palestinians today, embarked on hunger strikes in from our prison cells in protest against Apartheid South Africa’s human rights violations.
It is precisely because of our own history that myself and so many other government officials including our deputy president and my colleagues in cabinet have joined this solidarity action with members of South African civil society.
We also note the growing number of the South African Jews who have joined this 24 hour fast and are in protest against Israel’s discriminatory policies. They remind us of our own white comrades who refused to let the Apartheid Government speak in their name.
We hope that our contribution will help bring some strength to the #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners and their families.
I myself was detained during the 1980s and embarked on a hunger strike in protest against Apartheid South Africa’s practice of detention without trial among other issues. The first time was when I was arrested on 7th January 1987 and held for 9 months and the second time when I detained in August 1988 until May 1989. When I was arrested in 1988 I was with my 3 week old child. My heart and strength goes out to my fellow Palestinian mothers.
Those of us in government are committed to assist the Palestinian hunger strikers. I have received proposals from solidarity organisations leading this initiative including the request for a solidarity mission to #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners and will ensure that they receive the most urgent attention.
We also note actions worldwide, for example, the move in Ireland of the Palestinian flag flying above certain government buildings in support of the Palestinians (click here) as well as the motion in the Portuguese Parliament in support of the #PalestinainPoliticalPrisoners (click here).
South Africa must be at the forefront in support of the Palestinian people, a people that gave so much to us during the darkest days of our own Apartheid. We are reminded of the words of our former president Nelson Mandela: “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people”.