Some Sickening Accolades

Steven Katsineris with his views on the nature of the response to the death last week of Nelson Mandela. Steven Katsineris is an Australian free-lance writer of articles on Palestine, Cyprus and the rest of the Middle East region, political prisoners and human rights, environmental and social issues. He has been actively involved in the Palestine solidarity movement for over forty years. Steven lives with his family in Melbourne, Australia.


I was one of those who spent years protesting against the evil of Apartheid, boycotted the companies and countries that supported it, as well as working to aid those who suffered and struggled to be free of it, and for the release of Nelson Mandela and other South African political prisoners.

The death of Nelson Mandela and the praise that he and his legacy are receiving provoke very mixed feelings for me. I know I should feel satisfaction and pleasure at what change was achieved and that I played a very small part in that. And I do. But to see hypocrites like Australian PM Tony Abbot (and others), who actively supported Apartheid, viewed those who opposed it as terrorists and were quite happy to see people like Nelson Mandela languish in jail now giving accolades to Mandela I find just sickening.

And all those others who did nothing to help, who now also honour Nelson Mandela as a brave and righteous man, which he is, where were than they when he and the thousands of other oppressed people really needed them? And where were they when there was an international campaign for Nelson Mandela’s release. Oh that’s right, they didn’t care about the cruel plight of black South Africans, they didn’t want to get involved in politics. Playing rugby with racist South Africa was just sport, and doing business with it, is, well, just business and not racial exploitation.

And where were they when East Timorese were being brutally repressed and their leader Xanana Gusmao was imprisoned by Indonesia? And the same in Burma, with Aung San Suu Kyi. And even then I probably wouldn’t mind if they actually learned something from this experience. But today we have so many more Mandelas rotting in prisoners in West Papua, Palestine, the USA, Iran, China, Turkey, Columbia, Bahrain, Egypt, Ireland and elsewhere with little notice taken by the outside world. And people like Tony Abbot only too willing to ignore these political prisoners and support many of the regimes (Indonesia and Israel, the USA, etc) that jail and oppress them.

Despite our success in ridding the world of Apartheid and freeing Mandela, I feel a great sadness and anguish that it often takes many people a long time to open their eyes and act to stop such horrible and oppressive regimes. And of course many others do nothing except express platitudes many years after the events, like we are witnessing after Nelson Mandela’s death.

I think of Steve Biko, and the thousands of others who were imprisoned, tortured, beaten and killed under the brutal reign of the Apartheid regime. Steve Biko was another remarkable activist and leader of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, who was beaten to death. He founded the Black Consciousness Movement, which mobilized the urban black population. While living, his writings and activism empowered black people, and he was famous for his slogan "black is beautiful", which he described as meaning: 'man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being.'

On 18 August 1977, Biko was arrested at a police roadblock and interrogated by officers of the Port Elizabeth security police. The interrogation lasted twenty-two hours and included torture and beatings resulting in a coma. He also suffered a major head injury while in police custody at the Walmer Police Station, in a suburb of Port Elizabeth, and was chained to a window grille for a day.

On 11 September 1977, police loaded him in the back of a police Land Rover, naked and restrained in manacles, and began a long drive 1100 km drive to Pretoria to take him to a prison with hospital facilities. He was nearly dead owing to the previous injuries. He died shortly after arrival at the Pretoria prison, on 12 September. His autopsy revealed multiple bruises and abrasions and that he ultimately succumbed to a brain haemorrhage from the massive injuries to the head, where he had been brutally clubbed by his captors.

And I find it galling that there were concerned and committed people in Australia and elsewhere who did a lot more than me to awaken the world to the horrors and immorality of Apartheid, and who were ignored, verbally abused, jailed and beaten by the likes of Tony Abbott and his ilk. And today we have to hear and witness these supporters of Apartheid joining the chorus of Mandela supporters. So, while Tony Abbot is now praising the life of Nelson Mandela, he is still busily helping those who are oppressing those who are in prison for daring to resist the same injustices and inequalities Mandela fought against.

There’s still so much human rights abuse in the world and too much hypocrisy and plenty of history repeating itself. RIP Nelson Mandela, for those of us who remain, we pledge to stay true to your ideals and we will continue the struggle for a better world.

And we will not forget those who are fighting for the same civil and human rights and are now in jail for their political beliefs. Freedom for Ahmad Sa’adat, Marwan Barghouti, Mordechai Vanunu (Palestine), Filep Karma (West Papua), Oscar Lopez Rivera, Leonard Peltier, Sundiata Acoli (USA) and all the other imprisoned political prisoners.

1 comment:

  1. Steve a cara Mandela and the Anc sullied the memory of Steve Biko by becoming as much a part of the system that murdered Steve,they sold their souls just like quisling $inn £eind and Bobby Sands memory, All for a life of luxury for the few, thats why those hypocritical bastards like Cameron and the rest can postulate Mandela,s memory,because in effect he and his cronies became paid up members of the big boys club.they are two sides of the one coin. Mandela,s long walk to freedom was up a road that no true socialist revolutionary should ever want to go. and Cameron and his cronies are well pleased with their puppets in the ANC and
    Quisling $inn £eind.