March against global racism brings Durban to a standstill

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- An estimated 40,000 people marched through the streets of Durban Saturday in a dramatic protest against global racism.
Large parts of the city centre, where the World Conference Against Racism is being held, were cordoned off while the massive column snaked its way towards the International Convention Centre.
Marchers from all walks of life and all corners of the globe joined hands to call for justice and human rights throughout the world.
And for the third day in a row, the issue of Zionism took centre stage as protestors unfurled pro-Palestinian banners and chanted anti-Israeli slogans.
The United States also came under fire for its decision not to send Secretary of State Colin Powell to the conference and to downgrade its delegation.
The march was organised by South Africa's tripartite alliance - the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions.
Marchers presented a memorandum to Andrew Goledzinowski, a special assistant to UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson.
The memorandum slammed global racism, the caste system in India, violations of human rights by the Israeli government and called for an acknowledgement by the governments of the US and countries in Western Europe that they benefited from colonialism and slavery.
Goledzinowski received the memorandum and assured the marchers that the issues would be taken up "at the highest level".
The ANC described the march as a "spectacular success" and as a demonstration of the international commitment to end racism.
"For the first time in history we have the potential to act in genuine partnership as the nations of the world, to build non-racialism in action, by working together to ensure a better life for all.
"This will only be successful, however, if the nations and peoples of the world are prepared to collectively acknowledge the past, change the present and build the future free from racism, discrimination and intolerance," said ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama who took part in the march.
He said during the course of colonialism and apartheid, South Africans resisted assaults on their dignity, but did not surrender to the temptation of advocating black racial domination.
Instead they reached resolutely and optimistically for the antithesis of apartheid - the ideal of non-racialism.
"Throughout its history, the ANC-led alliance has played a decisive role in nurturing and building a humanist response to the system that sought to deny the humanity of its people.
"The transition to democracy was the product of conscious human effort over many years.
It is the result of the understanding by millions of South Africans that all of us, regardless of race and colour, are interdependent members of a common society", Ngonyama said.
Members of the American Civil Rights said the non-racial traditions of the liberation movement represent a powerful response to racism and discrimination relevant not only in South Africa, but in other contexts across the world.
A massive contingent of police, soldiers and security personnel maintained a tight cordon around the Durban International Convention Centre, and no incident of violence was reported.

01 september 2001 13:59:00

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