February 11–The 20th Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s Release from Prison; South Africa’s Support for Zimbabwe, Iran

February 11 is a big day for human rights advocates in South Africa, and around the world.

It is the 20th anniversary of the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, on February 11, 1990. The Hindu (Cape Town), February 10, 2010

Meanwhile, the opposition is criticizing South Africa’s lack of support for human rights abroad.

Ian Davidson of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance has charged that South Africa’s failure to criticize human rights violations in Zimbabwe, and poorly timed efforts to improve relations with Iran, undercut that country’s claim to be a leader in the field of human rights. From Johannesburg, Christian Ncube reports:

Ian Davidson, chief whip of the opposition Democratic Alliance has slammed the ruling African National Congress for putting the country’s historic liberation ties ahead of human rights.

Citing Zimbabwe as an example, Davidson was raising concern at Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu’s visit to Iran last week, despite the country being one of the world’s worst violators of human rights. The visit coincided with Iran’s execution of two opposition activists, convicted of “trying to topple the Islamic establishment” after they were linked to protests that took place last June…

“The question is: why is the Speaker of South Africa’s Parliament visiting a country with such an appalling human rights record and, instead of speaking out against the obvious abuses, using it as a platform to attack the West? The answer is: because the ANC, from Zimbabwe through to Iran, has always placed a country’s historic ties with its liberation cause above any other consideration; and so principle has been subverted by political solidarity and our international reputation on human rights, reduced to nothing more than empty rhetoric and meaningless gestures,” Davidson told The Zimbabwean.

Christian Ncube, “Human Rightrs Overshadow,” The Zimbabwean, February 10, 2010

Ian Davidson’s full statement was issued on February 6, 2010.

Regarding Mr. Sisulu’s visit, The Tehran Times reported,

Max Sisulu, for his part, said that South Africa has always looked up to Islamic Revolution of Iran as a model and added that Iran proved that one should fight against arrogant powers to win independence.

He also stated that every nation has the right to peaceful nuclear technology and added that South Africa will continue to support Iran on the issue.

Tehran Times, January 26, 2010

The Trenchant Observer

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