'Mine massacre talk diverts attention from Israel'

South African union leader slams Irish colleague who complained about statements condemning Israel.

By ERIC LEE
August 21, 2012 06:08
1 minute read.
South African police clash with strikers

South African police clash with strikers 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A top official of South Africa’s COSATU trade union has slammed an Irish colleague who complained about two statements condemning Israel issued on the very day that South African police opened fire and killed 34 of striking workers at the Marikana platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg.

“Stop colonialism and apartheid and stealing of Palestinian land, and stop diverting attention from that,” Bongani Masuku, international relations secretary of COSATU, South Africa’s national trade union center, said in response to a written complaint from Ireland’s Tom Carew.

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Carew, who described himself as a “committed member of the antiapartheid movement” and “a very active trade unionist” for his entire life, had complained in an email that he could not “recall anything like the Marikana massacre since the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. I also cannot recall either 36 Arab (or Jewish) workers ever being slaughtered like that by any Israeli police.”

He added that Masuku’s group had been silent about the recent events in Syria.

“The whole world knows that the [Bashar] Assad Syrian regime has slaughtered over 20,000 of their own citizens,” Carew said. “Can you kindly send me any COSATU statement denouncing the ongoing Assad massacres? Has COSATU demanded the immediate suspension from duty, arrest and prosecution of the police commanders and killers involved in the Marikana massacre?” Masuku, who was previously convicted of hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission, responded to Carew with vitriol.

“In one month, you massacred 1,400 Gazans to colonize and enforce your apartheid. You are lying that you were in the antiapartheid movement, with your garbage ideas you obviously supported apartheid, you liar.”

Carew was active in the anti-apartheid struggle, first as a student leader. He was later national president of the Public Service Executive Union, representing managers in the civil service and public sector, and for 24 years served on the union’s national executive. He was also a full-time union official, serving as secretary-treasurer of the Post Office Trade Union Group, which represented all unions in that state-owned business.


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