Press release by South African Union on Russell Tribunal on Palestine

[The following press release was issued by the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) on 7 November, 2011. It was recently published on]    

Jacob Zuma and Government must implement recommendations made by Russell Tribunal

07 November 2011

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) welcomes the findings of the international citizen-based Tribunal of conscience, The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP). This important Tribunal will form a historical reference point in stamping out the institutionalised regime of domination amounting to apartheid, perpetrated against the innocent Palestinians.

We urge President Jacob Zuma and our Government to do all within its power to implement the noble recommendations of this important Tribunal, held on our shores. We as South Africans, who know what it was like to live under oppressive conditions, must be the first to carry out all the recommendations made by the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

In view of the above findings, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and SAMWU resolutely urges all relevant parties to act in accordance with their legal obligations.

Accordingly, the Tribunal urges:

  • The state of Israel to immediately dismantle its system of apartheid over the Palestinian people, to rescind all discriminatory laws and practices, not to pass any further discriminatory legislation, and to cease forthwith acts of persecution against Palestinians;
  • All states to cooperate to bring to an end the illegal situation arising from Israel’s practices of apartheid and persecution.  In light of the obligation not to render aid or assistance, all states must consider appropriate measures to exert sufficient pressure on Israel, including the imposition of sanctions, the severing of diplomatic relations collectively through international organisations, or in the absence of consensus, individually by breaking bilateral relations with Israel.
  • The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to accept jurisdiction as requested by the Palestinian authorities in January 2009, and to initiate an investigation ‘as expeditiously as possible’ as called for by the ‘Goldstone Report’, into international crimes committed in Palestinian territory since 1 July 2002, including crimes of apartheid and persecution;
  • Palestine to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
  • Global civil society (including all groups and individuals working diligently inside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory to oppose the system of racial domination that exists therein) to replicate the spirit of solidarity that contributed to the end of apartheid in South Africa, including by making national parliaments aware of the findings of this Tribunal and supporting the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS);
  • The UN General Assembly to reconstitute the UN Special Committee against Apartheid, and to convene a special session to consider the question of apartheid against the Palestinian people.  In this connection the Committee should compile a list of individuals, organisations, banks, companies, corporations, charities, and any other private or public bodies which assist Israel’s apartheid regime with a view to taking appropriate measures;
  • The UN General Assembly to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice as called for by the current and former UN Special Rapporteurs for human rights to the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, to examine the nature of Israel’s prolonged occupation and apartheid;
  • The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to address the issue of apartheid in its forthcoming review of Israel in February 2012;
  • The government of South Africa, as the host country for the third session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, to ensure that no reprisals of any sort are taken by the state of Israel against the witnesses that testified before the Tribunal.

The world is looking upon us as South African politicians, activists, trade-unionists and citizens of this country to lead the struggle to stamp out the institutionalised regime of domination amounting to apartheid, perpetrated by Israel.

Now that the tribunal has officially come to an end, many South African Trade-Unions, NGOs, charities, and faith-based organisations have agreed to mobilise public opinion and put pressure on decision makers to prevent the crime of silence.

( / 17.11.2011)

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