Archbishop Desmond Tutu Encourages Continued Activism

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003 | Go to article overview

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Encourages Continued Activism


Archbishop Desmond Tutu, awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent campaign against South African apartheid, spoke to a Portland audience April 9 on "Increasing Awareness About Human Rights and Social Issues in Africa." In the final lecture of the World Affairs Council of Oregon's 2002-2003 International Speakers Series, Tutu balanced his criticism of U.S. Mideast policy with his gratitude for American anti-apartheid activism. He credited the latter for a successful divestment campaign and eventual U.S.-imposed sanctions against South Africa's apartheid regime.

Describing the success of the American anti-apartheid movement as "an extraordinary phenomenon," Tutu said, "Here we are now, free, a new democratic country, because you prayed for us, supported us, were willing to go to jail for us." Contrasting the struggle to the war on Iraq, Tutu added, "And the victory happened non-violently; we were not bombed into freedom."

Nelson Mandela, a fellow Nobel laureate and South Africa's first democratically elected president, was once called a "terrorist," Tutu reminded his audience. Nor, he argued, would Israel ever be assured of peace and security "until there is a viable Palestinian state with internationally recognized borders."

Recalling the atrocities of apartheid committed on both sides, Tutu said there was an "extraordinary display of magnanimity" involved in the work of reconciliation between black South Africans and their former oppressors. Had Britain invaded South Africa to overthrow the apartheid regime, Tutu opined, today there would be anger and resentment among those liberated. …

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