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Anti-apartheid, pro-BDS activist Ahmed Kathrada dies

Image of Anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada [Indian Spice/Facebook]
Image of Anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada [Indian Spice/Facebook]

South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada died in Johannesburg yesterday aged 87. Kathrada spent 26 years in jail for protesting against the white apartheid government in South Africa.

He was tried and jailed alongside Nelson Mandela in the 1964 Rivonia trial – which drew worldwide attention to the horrors of apartheid – where he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Kathrada was one of Mandela's closest colleagues and served as parliamentary counsellor to him between 1994 and 1999 in the first African National Congress (ANC) parliament.

Up until his death he campaigned for human rights, anti-racism, freedom of speech and supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In 2013, after a trip to occupied Palestinian territories, Kathrada said:

Israel is indeed an apartheid state. And in certain respects it is worse than apartheid.

 He famously called on Hollywood actor Morgan Freedman to boycott Israel, saying: "I returned from Palestine after spending a week there. To me, it was confirmation of a people living under worse forms of colonial rule, under Israel as a Colonial power, ruling under permanent conditions of Martial Law."

"This is great loss to the ANC, the broader liberation movement and South Africa as a whole," said Neeshan Balton, head of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, commenting on Kathrada's death. "'Kathy' was an inspiration to millions in different parts of the world."

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