Last Friday, when I called the Egyptian embassy in South Africa for comment on events in Egypt and also their sentiment on proposed demonstrations outside the embassy, I was asked by a worried diplomat whether any South African political parties had been planning to join the demonstration. The protest last week was a spontaneous act of support by a handful of Egyptians living in South Africa. The demonstration set for later today is likely to be more organised and much better attended, various trade unions as well as activist associations have put their weight behind the protests today.
Issued by: Coalition for a Free Palestine, South African Municipal Workers Union, Palestine Solidarity Committee, Palestine Solidarity Alliance
30 January 2011
The heroic masses of Egypt have risen up against the decades-old corrupt dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Taking inspiration from the intifada in Tunisia, for six days, Egyptian protesters have been demanding that Mubarak be ejected from the office he has held for 30 years, demanding affordable prices for basic foods, and demanding jobs. Close to 200 protestors have been murdered by the security forces as they attempt to exercise their democratic rights.
As South Africans watch the unfolding events in the north of our continent, it reminds us too of our own uprisings: Sharpeville, Soweto, Langa… and spurs us on to express our solidarity with the people of Egypt and Tunisia who remain steadfast in their determination to rid themselves of corrupt and oppressive dictators.
International solidarity organisations, together with social movement activists, members of trade unions and Egyptians in South Africa have come together to celebrate the uprisings of the Egyptians and Tunisians and people’s power globally – whether in the Arab world or in Zimbabwe and Swaziland. We echo the calls of our people in the north of Africa who are demanding bread, jobs, dignity and democracy. Our anger is also directed at the tremendous support successive United States administrations have given to shore up dictators like Mubarak in the region and their collaboration with Israel and Israeli occupation.
Legions of commentators and politicians have declared that mass democratic action is a relic of the past, but events unfolding in Tunisia and Egypt have proved them all wrong. Making shoddy unmandated compromises behind closed doors, as the recent ‘Palestine Papers’ have shown, has wholly discredited the US, Israel and their fixers like Tony Blair. Instead, mass democratic action is bringing about real change, and dictators who once believed themselves to be untouchable are now shaking in their palaces! In South Africa we must now re-exercise our own mass democratic action to show solidarity with the courageous people of North Africa. Mass democratic action can move mountains!
We demand that the democratic South African government, which itself came to power as a result of the mass action of millions of South Africans, distances itself from the US and other friends of Israeli Apartheid bent on propping up Mubarak. The ANC Government must take the lead in the world, and publicly align itself with the courageous peoples of Egypt and Tunisia and their fight for democracy.
Over the next weeks, a number of activities will be held in solidarity with these struggles. These activities will kick off with a demonstration outside the Egyptian embassy in Pretoria, with South Africans repeating the calls of our Egyptian comrades: “Mubarak out”, “Affordable food”, “Jobs now”, “Democracy and dignity”.
Where: Embassy of Egypt, 270 Bourke Street, Muckelneuk, Pretoria
When: 14:30, Friday, 4 February 2011
For more information, call:
Samantha Hargreaves – 083 384 0088
Steve Faulkner – 082 817 5455
Melissa Hoole – 084 574 2674
Salim Vally – 082 802 5936