Nelson Mandela, Bahrain, and the US government

This video says about itself:

Nelson Mandela – Full Speech At Start Rivonia Trial (20 April 1964)

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As a rare and unknown piece of history, I feel obligated to upload this recording of Mandela‘s statement which he made on the start of the Rivonia trial. This trial, which saw him and seven other men penalized with a livelong jail sentence for supposedly taking part in 221 acts of undermining the Apartheid.

Full credits to the source: The Guardian, which in turn was helped by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Op-Ed Columnist

How to Truly Honor Mandela


Published: December 11, 2013

World leaders, including President Obama, are jostling for the chance to celebrate Nelson Mandela this week, which would surely make Mandela smile. He had a mischievous sense of humor, and he knew better than anybody that the United States and other countries now embracing him had spurned him when he could have actually used the help.

In the deluge of coverage since Mandela died, there has been surprisingly little reflection on the lessons for ourselves, and there is a whiff of hypocrisy about the adulation for Mandela even as we simultaneously sell weapons to repressive regimes around the world. We needn’t just look backward: Yes, President Reagan or Dick Cheney, as a member of Congress in the ’80s, didn’t honor Mandela when it would have helped him, but it’s more relevant today that President Obama isn’t speaking up adequately on behalf of political prisoners.

If we Americans want to uphold the spirit of Mandela, then let’s advocate for political prisoners in China, Cuba, Syria and Iran and also in allies like Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Bahrain. And we should more forcefully protest Israeli settlements in the West Bank, for Mandela himself said: “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

President Obama gave a characteristically eloquent eulogy for Mandela, but he neglected the obvious point for ourselves: We should try to stand on the right side of history.

The Obama administration didn’t even blush when, on the day Mandela died, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Bahrain — an undemocratic minority regime that violently oppresses its majority.

Hagel consorted with Bahrain’s king without speaking up forcefully and publicly about imprisoned human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab, the globally respected president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Or about Zainab al-Khawaja, an American-educated woman who quoted Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mandela — and who is now in prison for her advocacy of human rights. Granted, the United States has important security interests, but do we really need to marginalize those carrying on Mandela’s fight?

“Future elected presidents and prime ministers are sitting in jails of governments the U.S. is supporting with weapons,” notes Brian Dooley of Human Rights First. “One day, Nabeel Rajab or Zainab al-Khawaja could be part of a Bahrain government that the U.S. will need to do business with. If it’s to avoid the mistakes it made with Mandela, it should start advocating properly for their release.”

In the eulogy, Obama said of Mandela, “He changed laws, but also hearts.” So let’s indeed have a change of heart and offer a tribute not just in words but also in firmer support for other advocates of peaceful democratic change. Consider Ethiopia, where the United States has enormous clout that it hasn’t adequately used on behalf of political prisoners like Eskinder Nega, a journalist serving an 18-year sentence for terrorism.

One of the lessons of Mandela’s life is that global pressure does matter. When Mandela was put on trial in 1963 and 1964, the South African government wanted to execute him. But because of an international outcry, he was given life imprisonment instead.

Finally, to further honor Mandela’s legacy, President Obama could make a stronger push to close the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and end that stain on American national honor. Think of the gratuitous cruelty toward Samir Naji al-Hasan Moqbel, a Guantánamo inmate from Yemen who wrote in The Times of what happened when he refused food:

“I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary.”

Mr. President, you can’t blame John Boehner for that.

Granted, it’s easy for those of us outside of government to advocate for human rights, while it’s infinitely more difficult for officials in power to balance human rights against other priorities. Some political leaders reading this will undoubtedly feel that I’m being simplistic and unfair, eliding the realpolitik pressures to work with flawed allies. They should remember that a generation ago, their predecessors were citing the same reasons to keep quiet about Nelson Mandela.

The recently drafted constitutions in Egypt and Bahrain are not worth the paper they’ve been printed on: here.

9 thoughts on “Nelson Mandela, Bahrain, and the US government

  1. Bahrain attends Mandela’s memorial service

    07 : 41 PM – 11/12/2013

    Johannesburg, Dec11(BNA) Bahrain Ambassador to the UAE Mohammed bin Hamad Al Ma’awda represented His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the memorial service of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

    The ambassador conveyed the condolences of HM the King to South African President Jacob Zuma. The memorial was attended by around 95,000 people, 90 world presidents and government leaders, prime ministers and top Arab and international leaders in the political, media and intellectual fields.


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  3. Twee spelers van de Turkse voetbalclub Galatasaray moeten een eerbetoon aan Nelson Mandela hoogstwaarschijnlijk bekopen. Didier Drogba en Emmanuel Eboué trokken vrijdag na het bekerduel met SB Elagizspo hun shirt uit. Daaronder zaten shirts met de tekst ‘Thank You Madiba’ en ‘Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela’.

    In Turkije is het verboden voor voetballers om reclame of politieke boodschappen onder hun shirt te dragen. Volgens Turkse media kunnen de spelers daarom een boete tegemoet zien.

    De oud-president van Zuid-Afrika Nelson Mandela stierf afgelopen donderdag op 95-jarige leeftijd.


    • Turkse minister van Sport steunt Drogba en Eboué na eerbetoon aan Mandela

      Suat Kiliç, de Turkse minister van Sport, heeft vandaag aan de Turkse Voetbalbond (TFF) gevraagd om terug te komen op zijn beslissing om de Ivoriaanse Galatasaray-spelers Didier Drogba en Emmanuel Eboué naar de Geschillencommissie te verwijzen. Zij hadden vrijdagavond op het einde van een match hulde gebracht aan de voormalige Zuid-Afrikaanse president Nelson Mandela, die daags voordien overleed. “Ik denk niet dat dit een goede beslissing was, noch voor het imago van Turkije in het buitenland noch voor de vrijheid van meningsuiting van beide voetballers”, verklaarde Kiliç.

      Vrijdagavond toonde Drogba op het einde van de bekerwedstrijd tegen Elagizspor een t-shirt met daarop de woorden ‘Thank you Madiba’. Eboué deed hetzelfde met een t-shirt met opschrift ‘Rest in peace Nelson Mandela’. De Turkse Voetbalbond verwees hen door naar de Geschillencommissie. Volgens de bond zijn politieke slogans of berichten op shirts verboden.

      HLN.BE 09-12-2013


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