Horrors of apartheid recalled as victims' forum ends

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- The brutality of South Africa's apartheid system was vividly portrayed late Thursday by an 84-year-old black labourer who told a World Conferences Against Racism Special Forum that he was thrown off a farm and left to die after providing 40 years of service.
During the apartheid-era, Griffiths Molefe, moved from farm to farm in the Northern Province trying to keep his family, a wife and 10 children together.
Finally, in the early 1960s, they settled and worked on a farm for more than 40 years.
Although he worked hard and received meagre wages, he did not question his circumstances and did what he was told.
According to Molefe, when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, the indignation and abuse he suffered in the hands of white farmers intensified.
He described how he was stripped naked and beaten by two farmers because he arrived late for work.
When he buried his daughter on the farm, the farmer ordered him to exhume the body and bury it elsewhere.
Two years ago, Molefe was evicted from the farm and his house was burned down by the farmer.
"He told me I have to leave the farm because I am old and he has no use for me.
He said he wouldn't give me money because I am nearly dead".
Molefe now lives in a small shack alongside a road where he was dropped off after being evicted.
"I have nothing to show for my 70 years of work on farms", he said.
Two other victims of human rights abuses were also given the opportunity to address the forum.
Ana del Carmen Martinez, a 38-year-old Afro-Colombian single mother of 10 children, told the forum that the civil war and narcotics trafficking that ravages parts of Colombia contributes to the racism that marginalises Afro-Colombians.
In February 1997, the Afro-Colombian communities of the Cacarica River Basin were forcibly displaced from their lands by military and paramilitaries in civil war fighting.
From Martinezs village alone, 3,500 people have been displaced.
Eighty people in her community have been killed or disappeared since they were displaced.
In February 1997, paramilitary forces attacked them and one community member was tied up.
"While he was still alive, they cut off his arms and his legs, joint by joint, then his genitals and lastly his head, which they used as a football.
"They threatened us and said that if we made a noise, we knew what to expect.
They told us to leave the area".
Martinez is a member of the Women in Resistance Committee, which demands to be returned to their land with dignity.
The state has promised her community a collective title of 103,000 ha of land, but even that was threatened by corporate development.
Reyhan Yalcindag, a Kurdish lawyer, said the Turkish government denies the Kurdish people their identity as well as basic freedoms.
He said Kurdish political figures associated with the Democracy Party, which was shut down by the Turkish government, were sentenced and jailed for attempting to defend Kurdish identity, cultural and human rights, and the use of the Kurdish language in education, politics and broadcast media.
Yalcindag has been imprisoned and tortured for her work on behalf of Kurdish people.
Currently she is taking cases on behalf of Kurdish people to the European Court of Human Rights.
The Voices Special Forum which is part of the World Conference Against Racism ended Thursday after the panel heard testimonies from 22 victims from around the world.
Mary Robinson, United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the Conference paid tribute to the victims for the courage they had shown by describing their pain.

07 september 2001 09:13:00

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