Archbishop Tutu says WCAR can learn from South Africa

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Wednesday told journalists covering the World Conference Against Racism that the entire world could draw lessons from South Africa's experience in dealing with the legacy of apartheid.
During a surprise visit to the meeting, Tutu described the WCAR as a "moral universe" which has given countries around the world the opportunity to state their cases.
"God dreams that one day his children will realise they are members of one family.
In God's family there are no outsiders.
Blacks, whites, yellows, reds, rich, poor, gay straight.
we all belong to the same family.
Let us celebrate our diversity," he said.
The Nobel Laureate who is receiving treatment for prostrate cancer said white South Africans, in particular, had learned from the power of forgiveness.
He said that in the late 1980s they still regarded Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and, in the 1990s they were terrified of a backlash if blacks assumed power.
"But in 1994, they discovered that when black people became free, they were free too - the burden had been lifted," he said.
He said the world has also recognised that since 1994, South Africa has chalked up some incredible successes including establishing the most advanced Constitution in the world and setting up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to deal with the atrocities of the past.
Turning to the Middle East crisis, Tutu said South Africa had also demonstrated that you cannot get peace and security "through the barrel of a gun".
"We had a nightmare called apartheid and it has ended - yours will also end," Tutu said, referring to the conflict.
He said although he was disappointed by the withdrawal of the US delegation from the WCAR, that country was still well represented by many influential Americans.
Tutu also addressed the issue of reparations for slavery - another hot potato at the WCAR - saying Africans are seeking an explicit apology and not compensation for slavery.
But, he warned, there are numerous issues from the past that need to be addressed.
"There are wounds too deep to speak about.
There is hurt sitting in the pit of the tummy which needs to come out.
In this conference we want to open them and then cleanse them and then put balm on them.
"We want to hear the word sorry.
Remember, it is a strong person who says 'sorry, I was wrong'," the retired Tutu said.

05 september 2001 17:10:00

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