South African solidarity event to launch international Free Marwan Barghouthi campaign

marwanThis Sunday, 27 October, the international “Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners” campaign will be launched from the historic South African landmark of Robben Island, where anti-apartheid struggle icons Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and others were imprisoned during Apartheid in South Africa.

The Palestinian based Popular Campaign for the Release of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian Political Prisoners and the South African based Ahmed Kathrada Foundation are the primary organisers of the Robben Island launch event. Ahmed Kathrada launched the “Free Nelson Mandela and all South African Political Prisoners” campaign in 1962, just prior to his own arrest and subsequent imprisonment with Nelson Mandela and others on Robben Island (click here for a short video by actor Morgan Freeman on the life and legacy of Ahmed Now half a century later, the 84-year-old anti-apartheid struggle veteran, is launching yet another campaign for an iconic freedom fighter, Marwan Barghouti, commonly dubbed “Palestine’s Mandela” ( Barghouti is one of the most prominent –of over 5000– Palestinian political prisoners currently detained in Israeli prisons and jails.

On Sunday, from Robben Island, BDS South Africa will also be announcing and detailing an upcoming South African boycott campaign against G4S Security, the international security company contracted in 2007 to equip and service Israeli prisons, torture centres and detention facilities where Marwan Barghouti and other Palestinian political detainees are held (

Following Sunday’s Robben Island launch, public events will be held in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.


WHERE: Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa
WHEN: Sunday, 27 October 2013
TIME: Starting from 09h00
RSVP: Event full.


DAY: Sunday, 27 October
TIME: 18h00
WHERE: Drommedaris Hall, Good Hope Centre
ADDRESS: Christiaan Barnard Street, Cape Town
CONTACT: 0823731143


DAY: Tuesday, 29 October
TIME: 19h00
WHERE: Durban Art Gallery, Durban City Hall
ADDRESS: 2nd Floor, Durban Art Gallery, Durban City Hall, Anton Lembede Street (Smith St.), Durban
CONTACT: 0823731143


DAY: Wednesday, 30 October
TIME: 18h30
ADDRESS: Mountain View Avenue (off Hendry Road), Morningside, Durban
CONTACT AND RSVP: 0823731143 / 0827757860
COST: R300 pp


DAY: Thursday, 31 October
TIME: 18h30
WHERE: Baitun Noor Centre
ADDRESS: Topaas Street, Extension 5, Lenasia
CONTACT: 0823731143


DAY: Saturday, 02 November
TIME: 09h00
WHERE: Constitutional Hill, Braamfontein
CONTACT: 0823731143
HOSTS: The Foundation for Human Rights, Constitutional Hill and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

The Robben Island launch and follow up events in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg will be addressed by Ms. Fadwa Bargouti (wife of Marwan Barghouti and head of the Palestinian based Popular Campaign for the Release of Marwan Barghouti & All Palestinian Political Prisoners), Azzam Ahmad (Former Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Palestinian delegation to the international Inter-Parliamentary Union), Qaddura Fares (Former Palestinian Minister of Detainees), Majed Bamya (Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Shawqi Issa (Director of Ensan, the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Human Rights), Sahar Francis (Director of Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association), Helmi Al Araj (Director of Hurriyat), Nasser Alrayyes (Al Haq, the Palestinian Human Rights Organization), Yasser Amouri (Birzeit University) and Luisa Morgantini (the former Vice President of the European Parliament). The Palestinian delegates will be accompanied by Ahmed Kathrada and a host of other former South African political prisoners.


Marwan Barghouthi (54) is known as the ‘Palestinian Mandela’. At the age of 15, Barghouthi joined the Palestinian political party, Fatah, where he co-founded the Fatah Youth Movement. At the age of 18, in 1976, Barghouthi was first arrested by Israel for involvement in Palestinian political and resistance groups. Barghouthi completed his secondary education and received a high school diploma while he was in jail.

Once released, Barghouthi became a member of the Palestinian parliament, where he served until he was abducted and arrested in 2002 by the Israeli army and thereafter tried, convicted and sentenced to five life sentences. The international Inter-Parliamentary Union has subsequently found that Barghouthi’s abduction, arrest and transfer to Israeli territory was in violation of international law and has, together with other international human rights organisations, called for his immediate release. At his trial in 2002, Barghouthi did not participate in its proceedings. Instead, he refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli courts and maintained that his abduction and the Israeli trial were illegal and illegitimate. From within prison, he pursued his efforts for Palestinian unity and freedom, including through his central role in the elaboration of the prisoners’ document for national reconciliation.

Over 750 000 Palestinians (roughly 40% of Palestinian men) have been imprisoned by Israel at one point in time. About 100 000 Palestinians have been held by Israel in “administrative detention” (the equivalent of Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention without trial”). In the last 11 years alone, more than 7500 Palestinian children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention facilities (including being held in solitary confinement) with Muhammad Daoud Dirbas, at the age of six, being the youngest Palestinian child to have been detained by Israeli soldiers – such practices are considered illegal under international law. Similar to the experience of Black families under Apartheid, almost every Palestinian family has been affected by the Israeli imprisonment of a relative. Currently, as of October 2013, there are over 5000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel; 137 of them are being held under Israel’s “administrative detention” (Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention Without Trial”) and 180 of them are children. Click here to read the 2012 United Nations report on Israel’s detention of Palestinian children:

In 2007 the international security company, G4S, was contracted to provide and maintain Israeli prisons, torture centres and detention facilities. Although claiming that it intends to terminate its Israeli contracts, G4S still operates in Israel and with the Israeli regime. G4S also provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints and Israel’s illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank (click here to download the United Nations Special Rapporteur report with details of G4S and its illegal activities in Israel [Pages 15 & 16]: More information on the South African G4S boycott together with campaign material and ways in which members of the public can get involved will be distributed shortly after the Robben Island launch and official announcement of the South African “G4S Boycott” campaign…

The launch of this International Campaign follows a visit by Ahmed Kathrada to Palestine earlier this year. On his return, Kathrada, who himself spent 26 years imprisoned on Robben Island during Apartheid, said: “I believe the International Community has a moral, legal and political responsibility to secure the freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian political prisoners…hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have experienced imprisonment at a certain point in their lives, in one of the most striking examples of mass detention in recent history. Some of these prisoners have spent over 30 years in Israeli jails … the freedom of the Palestinian people is intricately linked to the freedom of Palestinian political prisoners.”