South African President advocates century of hope

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- South African President Thabo Mbeki Friday acknowledged international support in ending apartheid, saying the victory should inspire the Durban world conference against racism to work at making the 21st Century one that restored to all, their human dignity.
In his opening address, Mbeki said the conference had to convey the message that the people of the world were determined to unite to repair gross human rights violations of the past.
"Nobody ever chose to be a slave, to be colonised, to be racially oppressed," he pointed out, observing that "the impulses of the time caused these crimes to be committed by human beings against others".
Stating it somewhat bluntly, Mbeki said millions of people around the world suffer indignity and humiliation just because they are not white.
"Their cultures and traditions are despised as savage and primitive and their identities denied," he bemoaned.
"They are not white and are deeply immersed in poverty," he noted.
Borrowing from the lyrics of past American blues, Mbeki quipped: "To those who have to bear the pain of this real world, it seems the blues singers were right when they decried the world in which it was said 'if you're white you're alright, if you are brown stick around, but if you are black, oh brother, get back'.
" Turning to the Middle East, he said the region cries out for a just, stable and permanent peace that is long overdue, and that the people of Palestine and Israel are also entitled to pursue their fullest and all-round development in conditions of freedom, safety and security.
He said Africa also deserves peace and the opportunity to develop in conditions of peace and freedom.
"Thus would the conditions be created for us as Africans to take to the long road towards the eradication of the legacy, which is our daily companion, of slavery, colonialism and racism," the host president opined.
Mbeki said that only recently had the world bade farewell to a century that had visited terrible suffering to millions of people.
Yet that century had also given a global compact in the form of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It had given humanity as a whole the possibility to accumulate the knowledge and the means to realise the noble vision contained in that document, Mbeki said.
"We have gathered in Durban to make the commitment that this we will do, together, to decide what steps we will take to ensure what has to be done, is done," he concluded.

31 august 2001 11:44:00

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