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Afrique du sud : Building International Pressure Against Repression

Abahlali baseMjondolo press statement

D 9 octobre 2022     H 05:30     A Abahlali     C 0 messages

We have lost four comrades this year. One was murdered by a masked police officer and the other three were murdered by the izinkabi. We have lost a total of twenty-four comrades since our movement was founded on 4 October 2005.

The attack on our movement has moved the world.

We have received solidarity from movements and organisations across the Global South, and across Africa. Last week our president, S’bu Zikode, our Deputy President, Mqapheli Bonono, and our General Secretary, Thapelo Mohapi, undertook a mission to Europe to build solidarity.

Zikode held meetings with progressive MPs and others in Sweden and Norway where he also spoke at the annual bookfair in Gothenburg. Bonono addressed two meetings of human rights structures at the United Nations in Geneva and Mohapi addressed the European Parliament on the issues of Human rights and met with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Brussels.

Bonono’s mission to Geneva ran from 26 – 30 September 2022 where he participated at the 51st Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. Part of the objective of the mission was to engage with various organisations ahead of South Africa’s Universal Periodic Review, which is scheduled to take place in November 2022. He met with diplomats from across Latin America, Asia and Europe to address the dire situation of the increasing repression against our movement. Among other recommendations a request was made for the South African government to prioritise extending official invitations to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders.

A parallel side event to the 51st HRC session was also held under the theme “Defending Land and Protecting Rights : Opportunities for South Africa UPR”. The event focused on the heightened repression against Human Rights Defenders, in particular those working in the field of housing, spatial justice and equitable land distribution. It also presented an opportunity for recommendations that South Africa should consider in its upcoming UPR session. During the session, Bonono spoke on the repression and targeted assassinations the movement has endured as advocates for the rights of people living in shacks, including access to decent housing, services and education.

On Friday, 30 September Bonono delivered an oral statement before the Human Rights Council during the general debate on Item 6, which focused on South Africa’s upcoming UPR session. In the statement, he informed the Council of the unfortunate murder of Lindokuhle Mnguni, who was initially nominated to represent the movement in Geneva. Abahlali baseMjondolo called “on states to submit strong recommendations for South Africa to address historically unresolved issues of land, security of tenure and adequate housing ; to adopt legislation that ensures the protection and promotion of HRDs and to allow Special Rapporteurs on housing and HRDs to visit the country.” A further oral statement on the general debate on item 8, under the Vienna Declaration was delivered virtually on 3 October 2022. While in Geneva Bonono was also able to meet with activists from elsewhere in the world, including Palestine.

Mohapi met with numerous people and organisations in Brussels including the European External Action Services, European Union delegates to South Africa and some of the Policy Officers for Human Rights at the EU. As noted above he also had a personal meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on Issues of Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawler. His address to the EU Parliament stressed the failure of the South African government to act against ongoing political assassinations. Mohapi was also able to take the opportunity to meet with activists in exile from a number of countries.

Just as they always deny that xenophobic violence is xenophobic the ANC continues to deny that the murders of our comrades are political. As is always the case when we travel to build awareness and solidarity South African government officials in Brussels and Geneva said that they were ‘shocked’ to hear about the killings for the first time.

We thank all of the human rights organisations that worked so hard to make sure that these visits could happen, and that our movement could access the right people and structures during our mission to Europe.

The South African government says that although they are aware of the killings they are not behind them. They said nothing at all about the fact that they are an ANC government and that in almost all cases they have allowed forces within ANC to murder activists with impunity.

We will continue to work with our comrades and human rights organisations around the world to pressurise the South African government to take decisive action to stop political assassinations. We thank all the many people and organisations that worked with our movement to make this international mission possible.

We will continue to work with a broad array of forces to build a united front against political assassinations.