Victims of racism describe their horrific ordeals

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- A 15-year-old South African schoolgirl fought back tears as she described the humiliation she endured when she was wrongfully accused of shoplifting and painted white last year.
Lorraine Nesane told delegates at the Voices Special Forum at the World Conference Against Racism that the incident had scarred her for life and she still suffered from flashbacks.
The incident happened in the conservative Northern Province town of Louis Trichard and she said she was confronted by a white manager who instructed a black employee to strip her and paint her white.
The case went to court and the white manager was acquitted while the black employee received a small fine and a suspended sentence.
"I feel like an animal - I know that walls are supposed to be painted, not people," Nesane said Monday choking back her tears.
Nusreta Sivac, a Muslim living in Bosnia, recounted to the same forum how she was caught up in the Bosnian conflict in the early 1990s and arrested by Serb soldiers.
Sivac was taken to the Omarska concentration camp and repeatedly raped and beaten along with approximately 40 other women.
"I hoped they would spare me because there were younger women, but they didn't," she said.
The rapes had a political purchase - to intimidate and humiliate and degrade the women and ensure that they would flee and never return.
The Ad Hoc International Tribunal determined that in Bosnia, systematic rape was used as a tool of genocide.
Sivac said there were thousands of men and just 36 women in the camp.
Numerous people died from torture and poor living conditions.
"In my camp, some of my best friends, some of my family and some of my colleagues were killed," she said.
A panel of UN officials and UN Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover are listening to these accounts of human rights abuses from victims around the world.
On the final day of the Voices Special Forum, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson will receive a statement from the 21 people who testified, making their statements part of the official proceedings at the conference.
Seen together, these personal stories paint a larger picture of racial discrimination in the 21st century.
Familiar manifestations of discrimination such as hate crimes remain, but there are more insidious forms that are illustrated by these stories - stories that show the systematic effects of racial discrimination.

04 september 2001 08:32:00

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