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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!

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PRESS RELEASE: Discussion on Migration and Xenophobia to be held at the Peoples’ Justice Fan Park

17 Jun

As part of its Red Card Campaign – a month-long campaign aimed at raising awareness regarding the Apartheid Litigation (“Khulumani Reparation Lawsuit”), “red-carding” companies that supported apartheid and engaging in critical debates regarding the legacies of apartheid – Khulumani Support Group is commemorating World Refugee Day with a panel discussion on Migration and Xenophobia, in solidarity with refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants in South Africa, who have not received the warm welcome extended to visitors to the country for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. In the midst of the euphoria regarding the World Cup, this discussion seeks to highlight the on-going harassment and ill-treatment of African non-nationals living in South Africa and propose strategies to combating xenophobia. The discussion will be held at the People’s Justice Fan Centre (929 Mphuthi Street, Central Jabavu, Soweto) on Friday 18 June at 10:15am.

Just over two years have passed since the shocking events of May 2008 when some 120 people, assumed to be foreign Africans, were killed by mobs led largely by young disaffected men who rampaged through some of the country’s poorest informal settlements, searching for foreigners, disparagingly called “makwerekwere”. Thousands were displaced in these attacks and government’s response was and continues to be very inadequate as xenophobic attacks have continued. As the continent most affected by the displacement of people as a result of war, political conflict, poverty and starvation, the question will be asked what measures are being taken in South Africa to counter the scourge of xenophobia and to promote the inclusion of everyone living in the country within the guarantees and protections provided by the country’s Constitution.

Khulumani, a social movement with over 58 000 survivors of gross human rights violations committed during apartheid, with its partner, the Southern African Centre for Torture Survivors, provided capacity-building in the hosting of tough conversations on migration and xenophobia to its facilitators living in 15 informal settlements in Gauteng Province during 2008. Most of these facilitators had been military combatants in underground liberation armies and had some experience of living in different African countries. The work was powerful in starting conversations in places where people meet everyday – on public transport, in churches and taverns and at informal soccer matches. The struggle to sustain and to expand these activities to reach out to fellow South Africans, who were insulated from the rest of the African continent by apartheid, and to deal with deep-seated xenophobic attitudes and stereotypes, continues.

Khulumani has continued to build relationships with partner organisations in the sub-region, in particular with organisations in Zimbabwe and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to stand with them in solidarity. The panel will be moderated by Bishop Paul Veryn and will include speakers from these communities in South Africa as well as speakers who work on issues of forced migration in South Africa.  For more information, please contact:

Visit Khulumani’s Red Card Campaign at https://redcardcampaign.wordpress.com/

Mr Tshepo Madlingozi on 082 496 9914

Bishop Paul Verryn on 082 600 8892 or

Mr Hassen Lorgat on 082 362 6180

Not Nigeria vs Netherlands – the Ogoni vs Royal Dutch Shell!

12 Jun

Writer, poet and environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed in Nigeria on November 10, 1995. He was the leader of a non-violent movement of about 50,000 Ogoni people fighting for the protection of the Niger Delta that was being desecrated by the operations of major oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell that has the largest operation in Nigeria. Shell Oil commenced its operations in the Niger Delta in 1958.

Mr Saro-Wiwa’s campaign advocated for protection from oil spills, from the destruction of mangroves to make way for oil pipelines, and from pollution of the environment by the by-products of continuous gas flaring operations. They also complained that they had no share in the wealth being generated from oil extracted from their own land. Shell was eventually forced to quit Ogoniland in 1993. The outrage generated by the Abacha military government’s charade trial and execution of Saro-Wiwa and eight others (the MOSOP Nine) contributed to the fall of that government.

Ten plaintiffs including Saro-Wiwa’s brother and son used the Alien Tort Claims Act in a New York court to charge Royal Dutch Shell with complicity in torture, wrongful killings and human rights abuses. Just over a year ago, on 8 June 2009, a settlement was reached with Shell after a thirteen year long legal battle and three weeks of mediation. The outcome was that Shell paid out US$15,5 million to establish a Trust Fund to compensate families of the executed for their loss and to assist in providing resources for education, social services and small business enterprise support to the Ogoni People in the region. The settlement represents only about four hours or about 0,5% of Shell’s record $31.4 billion profit in 2008.

The Alien Tort Claims Act is the same legislation being used by Khulumani Support Group in its lawsuit against multinational companies — which originally also included Royal Dutch Shell for supporting the apartheid regime by supplying it with oil in defiance of the United Nations oil embargo against the apartheid government.

Last year the lawyers for the Saro-Wiwa plaintiffs said “This settlement confirms that multinational corporations can no longer act with the impunity they once enjoyed.”

If the South Africa Apartheid Litigation is won in court, the impunity of multinational corporations such as Shell, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, IBM and Rheinmettal will be further curbed.

Acknowledgment:

Remember Saro-Wiwa
c/o PLATFORM
7 Horselydown Lane
Tower Bridge
London SE1 2LN
+44 (0)207 357 0055

Feel It. It is Here…Launch of the khulumani Fan Park in Soweto!

11 Jun

Today hundreds of Khulumani members and people from around Gauteng will be gathering at the Methodist Central Mission in Jabavu to cheer on Bafana Bafana as well as engage in some critical debates about South Africa, the lawsuit, and the future for people on the margins of our societies.

Today’s panel: “Voices from the Left Field (or Sidelined?)” features organisational partners The anti-Privatisation Forum, GenderLinks, BlackWash, and Esset. These social activists will be highlighting various social issues.

Stop by the People’s Justice Fan Park for your dose of social activism and football fever combined!

Phambili Bafana Phambili! We can do it!

The Lawsuit 101: Enough is Enough – End Corporate Impunity!

9 Jun

The Red Card Campaign was established to raise awareness about the Khulumani lawsuit against 5 multinational corporations that are alleged to have aided and abetted the apartheid government in crimes against humanity. For those of you new to the case, and the reasons for bringing it, here’s the 101 version (also check out the FAQ section for more details).

In 2002 Khulumani through American attorney Michael Hausfeld lodged a complaint in the NY District Court on behalf of its members who had suffered from torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and other abuses. The complaint alleged that 23 multinational companies across sectors of Banking, Oil, Transport, Technology and Arms all aided and abetted the South African military and government to commit the brutal systemic acts which came to define Apartheid as a Crime Against Humanity. By providing financing to the military, oil to fuel tanks, technology to implement pass laws, and components to manufacture weapons the complaint alleged these companies provided the means for the apartheid government to brutally repress the vast majority of South Africans. None of these companies ever engaged with the TRC business hearings, or in any way acknowledged their complicity. They profited off the lives of Black, Indian and Coloured South Africans and so this case is an attempt for South African people to say ‘enough is enough’ – it’s time to end corporate impunity!

Over the last 8 years the case has been through many ups and downs: we’ve seen changes in governments and changes in their support for the case, refined the complaint to its present format and won unimagined victories that set precedents for what kinds of actions corporations can be held accountable for. The five companies left in the lawsuit are: Daimler, Ford, IBM, General Motors and Rheinmettal. Over the next month we will be giving full profiles of each of these companies, detailing their alleged involvement with the apartheid regime. We will also introduce you to some of the plaintiffs – Khulumani members who continue to deal with the after-effects of their brutal treatment under apartheid.

Presently we are awaiting a decision from the court about whether or not the companies will be forced to open their records fully and expose all their business relations with the apartheid government.  We need your support to show that people around the world demand full transparency and accountability from these corporations!