PRESS RELEASE: Palestinian Workers Write To COSATU & Fellow South Africans Workers on May Day
Below and attached is a message of support that will be delivered by the General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW) at today's COSATU May Day (International Worker's Day) Rally in Polokwane, South Africa. The rally will be attended by COSATU President Sidumo Dlamini; General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, Blade Nzimande; as well as the President of the ANC and the Republic of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma.
The General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW) is the largest, most representative Palestinian trade union federation and one of the largest constituent-based mass organizations making up the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO has close relations with South Africa's ruling ANC and Government.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has been at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle in South Africa and abroad actively championing in recent years the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.
DEAR WORKERS AND WORKER UNIONS OF SOUTH AFRICA,
DEAR COMRADES IN COSATU,
RE: MESSAGE OF SUPPORT FROM PALESTINIAN WORKERS TO COSATU & FELLOW SOUTH AFRICAN WORKERS ON MAY DAY
Occupied Ramallah, Palestine. 1 May 2014 -- On behalf of the Palestinian trade union movement and all Palestinian workers, in Palestine and in exile, the General Union of Palestinian Workers extends to you our warmest solidarity and fraternal greetings.
We salute you as we observe International Workers' Day. A day that binds workers and the working class across the world in our struggle for justice, equality and freedom from all forms oppression - gender oppression, economic exploitation and racial discrimination. This day binds all workers from Palestine to Portugal, Cuba to Canada, South Africa to South America.
We salute your steadfastness, workers of South Africa, in your continued opposition and resistance to injustice. We as Palestinians take much inspiration from you, both in the decisive role you played in the struggle to end apartheid during the 1980s and also in your leading role today to continue the struggle for worker rights and social justice. Crucially, we are also inspired by and grateful for your unwavering, principled solidarity with the Palestinian people in our struggle for self determination, as well as with other oppressed peoples of the world.
In the face of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid imposed on Palestinians everywhere, we are struggling together with the absolute majority of our people, particularly through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, to achieve freedom, justice and equality. But like the long march to freedom in South Africa, our struggle cannot prevail over Israel’s oppression and the structures of imperial and corporate complicity that maintain it without the effective solidarity of international social movements, particularly trade unions, and other components of civil society.
We are proud that COSATU was the first international trade union body to endorse BDS against Israel, almost immediately upon launching the call in 2005. We are proud of the African National Congress’ position in support of BDS at its 2012 national conference. We cannot think of a more worthy or effective contribution to our struggle for freedom than holding Israel to account by endorsing and implementing BDS campaigns against it and against the institutions and corporations that enable its regime of occupation and apartheid.
With your principled support, the BDS movement continues to gain momentum. Israeli officials themselves are today admitting that the BDS movement is “growing exponentially” and are treating it as a “strategic threat” to their regime of oppression. Scores of artists and bands refuse to play in Israel and many cultural figures support BDS, including Angela Davis, Alice Walker and Roger Waters. Trade unions internationally are adopting BDS resolutions and rethinking their relationship with Israel’s Histadrut, a quasi-state union that is foundational to Israel’s apartheid – there is much more work to be done on this front and we will continue our campaigning to ensure no trade union supports the oppression of Palestinian workers knowingly or unknowingly.
We write to you today as we approach the 66th anniversary of the Nakba, the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing of a majority of the indigenous Palestinians and destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages to create the racist and colonial state of Israel on the ruins of our society. Inside the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in occupied Jerusalem, we are faced with the daily arrests, killings, demolition of homes, uprooting of ancient olive groves, desecration of mosques, churches and cemeteries, enforcement of pass laws, confiscation of our most fertile lands and water resources and relentless forced displacement. We are sure this all sounds eerily familiar to you, brothers and sisters. As leading South African figures have recognized, Israel’s system of apartheid is in many respects even worse than South Africa’s.
On behalf of all Palestinian workers, we would like to thank you for your consistent solidarity with our Palestinian cause. Palestinian workers proudly stand in solidarity with you and your struggle against unjust and exploitative anti-worker practices.
Long live the friendship and solidarity between the workers of Palestine and South Africa!
General Union of Palestinian Workers
ISSUED BY MUHAMMED DESAI ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA. FOR COMMENT CONTACT:
MUHAMMED DESAI: 0842119988
KWARA KEKANA: 0724491774
BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL in SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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