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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU in solidarity with the Palestinian Political Prisoners on their hunger strike under the slogan "Freedom and Dignity"

5 May 2017

The Congress of South African Trade Unions stands in full solidarity with the Palestinian Political Prisoners who, on the 17th April, 2017 went on a hunger strike demanding among other things family visits, proper medical care, ending abusive conditions and solitary confinement as well as administrative detention without charge or trial.

The hunger strike launched by a prominent Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti under the slogan “Freedom and Dignity” is a reminder to many South Africans of their hard earned freedom and dignity, bolstered through international solidarity, of their own hard and painful sacrifices.

This slogan hits home as it reminds us of our own struggle, where heroic individuals selflessly gave their lives, so that many can live free and dignified lives. During the apartheid era, political prisoners were denied their basic rights which, as is the case in apartheid Israel, included prevention of visits by family members, brutal beatings\torture and denial of proper health care, solitary confinements and administrative detention.

South African political prisoners also took on a similar campaign. We know very well that when the state is illegitimately ruling on illegally occupied land, it can be brutal and this is not new to us and other Africans who suffered colonialism.

It is for this reason we strongly add our voice to the many international organizations and the overwhelming global condemnation of Israel, in support for this initiative. In this regard, we urge our comrades, “ Yes you can stand on our shoulders, just like we stood on yours during our own struggle”.
It was through the pressure from international solidarity, that we as South Africans gained our freedom and dignity and we are fully aware of what value international solidarity brings to such struggles; as such it will be through the same that the oppressed Palestinians will gain their own freedom and dignity. We applaud the more than 1500 Palestinian political prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, who have taken the hunger strike and further remind them that we know what they are going through and that theirs is a struggle nearing its end, which is the hardest part in any struggle.

South Africans will never fully enjoy their freedom and rights while fellow Palestinians remain imprisoned and their families continue to leave under brutal occupation. Your struggle is now known globally and your fight picked up in all continents, you will feel and enjoy your freedom very soon. We condemn the brutal, apartheid state of Israel for their heavy handedness, deplorable and undermining approach towards the freedom deserving state and people of Palestine. Their reign of terror and racism has gone on too long and as with everything, the end of it is nearer.

Apartheid Israel continues to test our humanity and we should gear up never to fail. This test we must, together pass at all costs. We call on fellow churches to refuse to be blackmailed and used to spread lies that justify the holocaust unfolding in Palestine, but firmly stand for justice and the truth. COSATU will continue to actively support and stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine in their struggle for self determination and for their land and freedom. We support fully the work of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) and other like minded campaigns in fighting for the realization of the full freedom of the oppressed people of Palestinian.


Bongani Masuku (International Relations Secretary)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street

P.O.Box 1019
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1337
Fax: +27 11 339-5080
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E-Mail: bongani@cosatu.org.za