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As the final whistle blows…Aluta Continua!

12 Jul

On Sunday night (11 July 2010) in a spectacular closing ceremony, and somewhat less spectacular final game, the World Cup drew to a close. The event, which took over South Africa’s every waking moment, showed that despite all the doubts and pessimism that dominated public discourse worldwide about our abilities we made this an unforgettable World Cup.

Unsurprisingly, as the end approached many South Africans were left chewing over the question of what comes after the World Cup, and how we can learn lessons from the last month to take us forward as a nation. Here at the Red Card Campaign headquarters we’re also taking stock of the past month and what it’s meant: while we’ve kept things updated on this blog, the real success of the campaign has been its reach from rural and urban communities across South Africa, to protest marches in Germany, to intense dialogue between different sectors of society. In five weeks we’ve had 4,000 blog hits, 900 ‘listens’ to the Officially Offside album online, exceptional panels, films and exhibitions at the People’s Justice Fan Centre, media coverage ranging from Der Spiegel to the Mail and Guardian to Al Jazeera, not to mention a reparations workshop and a march by the groups from Indwe and the East Rand.

As we contemplate the future for South Africa post-World Cup fever, we’re also exploring the various avenues the Red Card Campaign can take after our intensive launch period. What we will definitely be doing is keeping this blog up-to-date with the latest news about the South Africa apartheid litigation; ongoing struggles for reparations and redress for the Khulumani victims and survivors; and the broader global struggle for justice and corporate accountability. We’ll also be promoting the Officially Offside CD, and holding events around the country to keep the momentum going!

So long World Cup…Aluta Continua Red Card Campaign!

Spotlight on Activism Through Film – Clarity Films and Active Voice

9 Jul

As mentioned in a previous post about the activities at the People’s Justice Fan Centre, we recently screened two of the seven-part documentary series Have You Heard from Johannesburg. Just as we have embraced the arts such as Hip Hop – see our Music 4 Justice project and Officially Offside album – so we have been lucky to connect with like-minded organisations and creative people using fim, theatre, arts and music to further the cause of global justice.

One organisation doing just that is Connie Field’s production company Clarity Films who describe their mission as follows: “to encourage a re-examination of our past to better inform social progress in our future and to stimulate thought provoking discussion around issues of major social concern in today’s society.” Clarity Films has worked closely with Active Voice, a multimedia company that tries to bring public policy issues to public attention through putting a human face on the issues. Together these two companies have tried to use the moment of the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from jail to shine a spotlight onto the global struggle to overcome apartheid – highlighting the many untold stories of how the world united to put an end to the horrific oppression of the former regime. If you would like to get involved in their campaign, or find a way to get hold of the films for your own screenings, check out the campaign website here.

As these films look back at the success of the world uniting against apartheid, we look forward to galvanising similar global solidarity to stand up to the corporate abuses that continue to go unchecked worldwide. 30 years ago global public opinion forced many companies to leave South Africa pushing the apartheid government closer to negotiations. Today we say that giving up making a profit off the lives and abuses of South Africans was the first step in a broader process of reparations and acknowledgement for their involvement.

Introducing Michael Hausfeld – Litigator and Human Rights Defender

5 Jul

The Khulumani Red Card Campaign has two major components: advocacy and campaigning in South Africa and across the world (as carried out on this blog, for example); and the actual legal battles in the New York courtroom. While we head things up here, we thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to our ‘man on the ground’ in New York, the exceptional lawyer Michael Hausfeld, and his firm Hausfeld LLP.

Hausfeld has a long history of work in the field of human rights – on a domestic US-level as well as internationally. He tried the first case that established the principle that sexual harassment was a form of discrimination prohibited under the US Title VII laws. In 1989 he represented the Native Alaskans who were horrifically affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, where he negotiated a $176-million settlement from Texaco Inc. He later successfully represented a class of Holocaust victims whose assets were retained by private Swiss banks during and after WWII; and separately represented the Republics of Poland, Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation on issues of slave and forced labour for both Jewish and non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution.

His firm, Hausfeld LLP, describes its work as follows: “Hausfeld LLP is a global claimants firm founded on a very simple yet largely unmet premise: global wrongs must be accountable to global rights. With unique global resources, unlimited creativity and steadfast integrity, we seek to achieve unprecedented results on behalf of citizens and corporations involved in large and complex disputes that touch every corner of the globe and impact every industry and population.”

Hausfeld and his incredible international team have been an excellent example of a legal team that are dedicated to standing for justice, accountability and most importantly making a tangible positive difference to the lives of the people on whose behalf they work. As Hausfeld writes:

“The U.S. law under which the [Khulumani] case is proceeding—the Alien Tort Claims Act—provides a place for foreign nationals to bring cases against U.S. citizens or other foreign nationals for violations of customary international law, including gross human rights abuses.

The Defendants in the case…have opposed being held to account for their conduct in the U.S. court. When, however, they were given the opportunity in South Africa to tell the truth about their participation in Apartheid and their relationship with its enforcement through terrorist type behavior, they failed to do so. Now they do not want to be held accountable in a court of law in a country in which most of them are citizens or in which they routinely do business. What they are really saying is that they should not be responsible to anyone, for anything, at anytime, anywhere.

Human rights abusers should not dictate where, when, and to whom they are accountable.  They cannot silence their victims or camouflage their misconduct by disappearing, shutting down or foreclosing all legitimate avenues of inquiry. Those who have been wronged have rights.  Those who have done wrong have responsibilities.”

Officially Offside Album in the Media!

28 Jun

Having only been launched last Friday at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and yesterday online, the Officially Offside album has already been noticed by the media here in the Eastern Cape.

On Friday, the Herald and Daily Dispatch both covered stories about Creamy Ewok Baggends, whose first track on the album ‘Shame on the Game’ has captured people’s imaginations worldwide. Check out the story on Ewok here.

And getting some well-deserved credit for all his hardwork to make the dream of this album a reality, today’s Daily Dispatch is carrying a story on Xolile ‘X’ Madinda (the brains behind the operation) and how the whole thing came together so beautifully.

Big ups to X and to all the artists on the album.

Listen to the Music. Join the Movement. Demand Corporate Accountability.

Officially Offside album goes LIVE!

27 Jun

Today we can officially announce  the launch of the amazing album in support of the Khulumani Red Card Campaign: Officially Offside! Produced in South Africa, but including artists from 14 countries, this album is a global collaboration of social justice minded hip hop artists who are all calling for corporate accountability.

Grahamstown-based group Defboyz coordinated the project and write the following:

“This compilation was compiled to show solidarity with the Khulumani Support Group legal action against several multi-national corporations who supplied the apartheid regime with the military equipment it used to suppress the majority of South Africa’s people. The core message of this CD is that social justice should never be subordinated in the pursuit of profits. Global society is confronted with a serious dilemma – our personal and national economic goals very often contradict basic human rights in other parts of the world. Should we throw our hands up in despair, or stick our heads in the sand? No, we must constantly strive to transform human society and human systems such that they sustain life and freedom. The artists represented on this CD come from all over the world (South Africa, Ghana, Congo, Togo, Uganda, Mozambique, Iran, the UK, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Chile, the US and Canada) and in a variety of languages – put one message across – that the powers that be must be held accountable for their actions! Peace.”

Check the album below, or on our Music 4 Justice page:

The album was launched at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival on Friday, 26 June, with a line-up of artists including Wordsuntame (track 21) and half of Blk Sonshine, Masauko Chipembere.

Follow-up spoken word gigs to promote the album will be held at Equilibrium on Friday and Saturday 2 & 3 July.

Red Card Campaign and Khulumani in the Media

25 Jun

The Red Card Campaign has officially been running for three weeks and the response has been fantastic! With growing interest in our partner campaigns in Switzerland and Germany (and a fair bit of media coverage to boot), over 3000 visitors to the blog, and hundreds of people participating in activities at the People’s Justice Fan Centre we’re all thrilled by the success of the campaign thus far!

In the last week or so we’ve had a few major engagements with the media:

– Today, the Mail and Guardian features an excellent op-ed by Khulumani Advocacy Coordinator Tshepo Madlingozi, which focuses on the Constitutional Court case to secure the right for victims and survivors to call out their perpetrators as ‘murderers’ or ‘torturers’ even where these individuals received amnesty from the TRC. Check out that op-ed here.  (This story was also covered by the Pretoria News)

– Yesterday Khulumani Executive Director Marje Jobson was interviewed on SAfm’s Otherwise programme about the campaign and its importance for broader corporate accountability struggles.

– Last week, the Mail and Guardian published an investigative report on the work of the Khulumani group in Zamdela township, outside Sasolburg, who are trying to secure reparations from Sasol for the injuries caused, and killing of 77 workers, when Sasol called in the apartheid police force to break up a strike in 1987. For more on that struggle, see the story here.

A huge well done to everyone working on the campaign, and a plea to those following its progress to spread the word even further. As the world’s attention begins to turn to the G8 meeting in Canada, this is an ideal time to raise the importance of corporate accountability to the functioning of a just world!

The Corporations On Trial – IBM, Ford, GM, Daimler and Rheinmettal

21 Jun

The Khulumani Apartheid litigation currently targets 5 multinational corporations using unique legislation in the USA. As part of the Red Card campaign, today’s major focus will be exploring who these companies are and why they’re on the list of alleged aiders and abettors of apartheid crimes. All these companies are being charged not because they were simply in South Africa at the time and selling to everyday civilians (“just doing business”) – these companies are charged because they specifically did business with the apartheid security forces who were perpetrating one of the clearly identified crimes against humanity of the 20th century. The following summary does not include the full details of the complaint, but some key points of what actions these corporations undertook.

International Business Machines (IBM)

Global Headquarters: New York, USA

Profits (2009): $12.334 Billion

Total CEO compensation (2005): $14.394 Million

International Business Machines (IBM) is the only technology company still listed in the Khulumani case. As many people may remember, IBM faced similar charges for aiding and abetting the commission of the Holocaust through its subsidiaries providing the technology for the Nazi regime to process millions of Jews in concentration camps (a little known fact is that the number tattoos branded onto Jews in these camps, were actually identity numbers for use in IBM machines). The case for IBM’s involvement with the Nazi regime was propounded in the book: IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black.

The allegations against IBM in the Khulumani lawsuit are similar. In the complaint, Khulumani argues that IBM provided the equipment to facilitate the apartheid government’s system of pass laws that disenfrachised, tracked, and violated the rights of non-white South Africans on a daily basis, and was the cornerstone of apartheid.In 1952 IBM-SA received its first order for an ‘electronic tabulator’ which was the first step in its automation and expansion of the population control programme. IBM leased the equipment to the South African government (and thus could have easily withdrawn support) and carried out maintenance on the machines even after it was clear that they were being used to uphold a crime against humanity.

Ford Motor Company:

Global Headquarters: Michigan, USA

Profit (2009): $2.7 Billion

Total CEO Compensation: $17.9 Million

The Khulumani litigation alleges that transport and motor companies such as Ford Motor Company aided and abetted the commission of apartheid crimes by providing the military forces with military-style vehicles and parts. Ford’s vehicles were used to patrol townships, and to arrest, detain and assault their inhabitants. Ford sold at least 1,582 F-series US-origin trucks to the police. Ford argued in 1986 that it could not refuse to sell vehicles to the security forces, because that would then cause them to lose their contracts with the broader apartheid government which would affect profitability.

General Motors Corporation:

Global Headquarters: Michigan, USA

Revenue (2009): $148,979 Billion

Total CEO Compensation: $9 Million

General Motors, alongside the other transport companies, is alleged to have sold parts and vehicles to the apartheid security forces that enabled them to carry out crimes against humanity. In 1978, GM reported that it annually sold 1,500 vehicles to the South African Police and military. For at least 15 years GMSA provided Bedford trucks directly to the SA military. In addition to selling these vehicles to the apartheid government, General Motors also assisted with the repair and maintenance of vehicles.

Daimler AG:

Global Headquarters: Stuttgart, Germany

Profit (Q1 2010): $817 Million

Total CEO Compensation: €5 Million

Daimler AG is charged with having sold military vehicles such as Unimogs, Casspirs, Hippos, and other vehicles that were used by security forces to track, arrest, detain and assault people across South Africa. When it came to the 6,000 Unimogs shipped to South Africa, their military purpose was clear in that they had mountings for arms—such as the “Valkiri,” a 127mm rocket launcher—gloss paint to avoid infrared detection, a 24-volt battery, and bulletproof tires. These Unimogs were shipped despite a UN Security Council mandatory arms embargo against South Africa. Components of Unimogs also formed the basis of the commonly used Casspirs and Hippos which wreaked havoc on townships, and from which police indiscriminately shot and killed Black, Indian and Coloured South Africans.

Rheinmettal AG:

Global Headquarters: Dusseldorf, Germany

Profit (2009): $15 million

Total CEO Compensation: €1.16 Million

Rheinmettal AG was a top producer of armaments including the MK 20RH 202 (a component of the armored personnel carrier), the MG3 machine gun, and various weapons systems for battle tanks, exported significant quantities of armaments and related equipment and expertise to South Africa, for use by the security forces. In the 1970s, Rheinmetall, under fraudulent export declarations, exported a complete ammunition factory to apartheid South Africa to manufacture the 155mm extended range projectiles needed by the South African security forces. The plant was erected in Pretoria and began operations in 1979. The plant made ammunition at the rate of 80 to 100 rounds per hour. In addition to the munitions plant, Rheinmetall aided the South African security forces in other ways, such as training members of the SADF in the use of certain artillery systems on its Unterlüss test range. Even after a criminal investigation was launched against Rheinmetall in 1980, Rheinmetall continued these trainings.

For more information about the lawsuit and the specific complaints against these corporations, please visit the lawsuit documents section of the Khulumani website.

Music 4 Justice

8 Jun

As part of the movement to demand justice musicians and hip hop artists from around the world have joined forces to support the Khulumani Support Group and its campaign for corporate accountability. We’ll be adding their songs and giving updates about their activities on the Music 4 Justice page – so check that out for your dose of Hip Hop activism!

A BIG thank you to the guys on the ground who have been driving this part of the campaign! Watch this space for details of the CD Launch this Friday…

One of the key organisations helping out with the music is NomadicWax an African-focussed hip hop and social activism record label. Check out this BBC article about the label and some of its other work.

Here’s a sneak-peek of some of the international artists that have contributed to the album:

– Italian Hip Hop artists Zero Plastica and El V and the Gardenhouse

– US Hip Hop artist Zee Santiago

– Ugandan Hip Hop activist Babaluku

All this alongside fantastic SA musicians from across the country…

Join the movement. Listen to the music. Take action to demand corporate accountability.

Show the Red Card to Corporate Abuses!

7 Jun

Welcome to the Khulumani Support Group Red Card Campaign headquarters. Over the next 5 weeks this blog will take you on a journey into the various aspects of the so-called ‘Apartheid Litigation’ against five multinational corporations that are charged with aiding and abetting the commission of apartheid gross human rights violations. For the quick and easy answer to all your questions, check out the Frequently Asked Questions section of this blog.

The case in question has been undertaken by the Khulumani Support Group, a South African social movement with 55,000 members across all races, rural, urban, rich and poor who have all been affected by the gross human rights violations of the apartheid-era. While South Africa celebrates hosting the world this month, Khulumani celebrates the victories it has had on the long road of the lawsuit, and calls for support from people across the globe to stand up for corporate accountability. Let us show the corporations that now sponsor football teams in the World Cup that we demand accountability for their sponsorship of apartheid abuses!

During this month we’ll shine a spotlight on some of the plaintiffs in the case, the corporations in question, and some of the bigger issues of reconciliation and reparations in South Africa. We also profile the work of our members and their continued struggles for human rights and dignity; as well as their actvities at the Soweto-based Khulumani People’s Justice Fan Centre. Finally, this is your place to hear that latest fantastic tunes from a local and international Hip Hop collective’s awesome album produced specifically for the red card campaign: Niet vir Niet/Nothing for Nothing.

Join us in this global people’s movement for justice and corporate accountability!