Global Peace & Justice Auckland Media Release: Picketing South Africa 20 years on…
17 August 2012
For the first time in 20 years New Zealanders will picket a South African
government institution in Auckland tomorrow in protest at yesterday’s killing
of striking mine-workers by South African police.
The appalling scenes where up to 18 workers were shot dead are reminiscent of
the darkest days of apartheid – the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and the
murder of black school children in Soweto in June 1976 come immediately to
The precise details of the killings are unclear but irrespective of this the
blame lies squarely with the ANC government which has been in power for 18
years while conditions have become worse for most South Africans.
The mineworkers strike and the struggle for decent housing, health, incomes
and education are the same struggles the ANC once supported but have turned
their backs on since gaining power.
They have betrayed the core principles of the historic “Freedom Charter” and
instead followed free-market economic policies which has meant little change
in the lives of the poorest South Africans while a wealthy elite, which
includes a few black faces now, has become obscenely rich.
Race-based apartheid has been replaced with economic apartheid.
New Zealanders didn’t protest on the streets to pave the way for a small
number of black millionaires to be created at the expense of the majority.
Last year in a withering attack on the ANC Bishop Desmond Tutu said the ANC
government was in some ways worse than the old apartheid regime and told South
African President Jacob Zuma that the day would come when people would pray
for the defeat of the ANC.
For many that day can’t come soon enough.
The picket will be held outside the new South African consulate in Auckland at
1 Kimberley Road, Epsom, Auckland from 2pm tomorrow, Saturday 18th August.
Included on the picket line will be some veterans of the anti-apartheid
Ph (09) 8463173 (H)
[Internationalist solidarity is more than a phrase, a statement, or a single act. It is a lifelong orientation to affirm our common humanity, a determination to end the oppressive and dehumanizing conditions that arise from imperialist power relations, and to bring an end to the system of imperialism, along with all the damage it has done. It is a commitment to build a productive and creative world where the contributions of all are valued. The motivations, visions, and politics of internationalists are forged in response to specific struggles against oppression. While the particularities of these struggles generate a wide range of views among internationalists–often contradictory and sharply contested–the heartfelt assertion toward a common humanity is the basis of our unity and our struggle.
The Olympia Food Co-op boycott of Israeli goods is one step in a solidarity that has grown through the work of grassroots activists over many years. Olympia is the home town of Rachel Corrie, the International Solidarity Movement activist who was killed by an Israeli militarized Caterpillar bulldozer that was destroying a Palestinian home. (See: http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/). Others, outraged at this horror, took up the challenge. An Olympia Rafah (Palestine) Sister City Project was formed (http://www.orscp.org/), and sister city relations were established. The Olympia Rafah Solidarity Mural Project (http://olympiarafahmural.org/) was planned, organized and created, as artists brought their vision and skills to join the grassroots solidarity movement. (http://www.breakthesilencearts.typepad.com/). The Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/755) was adopted by activists in Olympia who wanted to give material teeth to the struggle for solidarity, and the Olympia BDS committee (http://www.olympiabds.org/) was organized with ongoing educational efforts with film, speakers, and community discussions. The struggle to launch a boycott of Israeli goods at the local Food Co-op was built, even as other BDS efforts in the area were taken up by students at Evergreen College. (http://www.olympiabds.org/2010/students-at-the-evergreen-state-college-vote-to-divest-from-israel.html).
Each step in this process has been attacked by the opponents of such internationalist solidarity–most prominantly by Zionist defenders of the siege of Gaza, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israel, and the Israeli killings of humanitarian aid activists. The struggle of internationalist solidarity activists in Olympia has yielded much experience, and the tools may be useful or adaptable for grassroots internationalists in other locales as well.-ed.]
July 19, 2010
The Olympia Food Co-op Board of Directors has decided to boycott Israeli goods at their two locations in Olympia, Washington. At a July 15th meeting packed with Co-op members, the Board reached this consensus. The Co-op becomes the first US grocery store to publicly join the international grassroots movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) on Israel for its human rights abuses.Co-op board member Rob Richards explained, “My hope is that by being the first in the US to adopt the boycott we act as a catalyst for other co-ops to join in. Each additional organizational entity that joins may have a very small effect on the big picture, but drop by drop fills the tub.”
Noah Sochet, a Co-op member and OlympiaBDS organizer adds, “As a US citizen and as a Jew, I’m proud to say that my Co-op no longer underwrites the suffering in Palestine.”
In accordance with its mission statement, the Olympia Food Co-op has a longstanding boycott policy, which includes a boycott of China (for its occupation of Tibet) and a previous boycott of Colorado (for legalizing discrimination against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in 1992). The Co-op also has policies for rejecting items whose packaging feature exploitive or oppressive imagery.
One Israeli product is exempt from the boycott: “Peace Oil,” a brand of olive oil fairly traded from Palestinian farmers in the West Bank and the Galilee, will continue to be carried by the Co-op.
The boycott follows on the heels of a similarly historic event at the nearby Evergreen State College. On June 2, students at the Olympia-based college voted overwhelmingly to approve two resolutions calling on the college’s foundation to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine, as well as calling on the college to ban the use of Caterpillar equipment due to Caterpillar’s complicity in Israeli war crimes. The college is the alma mater of Rachel Corrie, who was killed by a weaponized Caterpillar bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Continue reading