Johannesburg (In Palestine Today)- Nobel Peace prize laureate who was a giant of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, Desmond Tutu, has died aged 90.
Tutu died in Cape Town on Boxing Day, as he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and in recent years he was hospitalised on several occasions to treat infections associated with his treatment.
“Ultimately, at the age of 90, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning,” Dr Ramphela Mamphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust and coordinator of the Office of the Archbishop, said in a statement on behalf of the Tutu family, while providing no details on the cause of death.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said his death marked “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans”.
He said Archbishop Tutu had helped bequeath “a liberated South Africa.”
“A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world.”
Being a contemporary of the anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela, Tutu was was one of the driving forces behind the movement to end the policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.
In 1984, Tutu was awarded the Nobel prize for his role in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system.
Tutu was also known for promoting freedom for Palestine, exposing Israeli apartheid against Palestinians and endorsing Palestine in the conflict.
He was always comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the apartheid regime that discriminated against blacks in his native South Africa.
Describing Israel’s treatment to the Palestinians as “humiliating,” Tutu said once that Israel’s “humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”
He also declared his support for the use of boycotts and economic sanctions as a means to compel ‘Israel’ to alter its policies.
“In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime,” he said.
“The same issues of inequality and injustice today motivate the divestment movement trying to end Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory and the unfair and prejudicial treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government ruling over them.”
“Apartheid was horrible in South Africa and it’s horrible when Israel practises its own form of apartheid against the Palestinians, with checkpoints and a system of oppressive policies. Indeed another US statute, the Leahy law, prohibits US military aid to governments that systematically violate human rights,” he wrote in an opinion in The Guardian in 2020.
He added that the incoming Biden administration “should forthrightly acknowledge Israel as a leading state sponsor of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and properly implement US law.”
Regarding the Miss Universe pageant which took place this month in ‘Israel’ amid wide condemnation, South African government withdrew its support for Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane, while referring in the withdrawal statement to Tutu after his visit to the area while indicating that ‘Israel’ was guilty of the apartheid treatment of Palestinians.