Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Desmond Tutu, South Africa, Apartheid, Israel – An unpublished letter to the Irish Times

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An unpublished Irish Times Letter : Desmond Tutu, South Africa, Apartheid, Israel – the author is Betty Purcell :

“Dear Editor,
It was with the deepest sadness, that I learnt of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, (South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu dies age 90, IT December 26th )this week. He was indeed a moral giant, an unequivocal fighter for human rights, a compassionate and funny individual, who used his voice so articulately, for the betterment of humanity.
I had the honour of meeting him twice; once while filming on the subject of human rights in South Africa, and once here in Ireland, when he came to speak for Afri, the small Irish Justice campaign of which he was a sponsor. He was passionate and informed on so many issues, and eloquently argued the rights based approach.

A Limerick 1970 Protest Against the Apartheid South Africa Rugby 🏉 Tour in Ireland. Pat O’Connor, carrying “PD Opposes Racism” was a comrade of Betty Purcell at that time.

From the early days of his fight against Apartheid in South Africa, ( which I supported as a Dublin teenager), to his bravery in speaking out for LGBTQ rights and against corruption in South Africa, and his courageous and moral support for Palestinian Rights, he refused to bow to bogus leaders and celebrities. He preferred to spend time with activists in struggle

Betty Purcell Demonstrating for Palestine, New Year’s Eve 2021, Halfpenny Bridge, Dublin.

He was clear in speaking of his “distress” when the saw the conditions of Palestinians, and like his friend, Nelson Mandela, saw Palestine as the Human Rights issue of our day.
“We have visited Israel/ Palestine on a number of occasions and every time have been struck by the similarities with the South African apartheid regime, “he wrote in 2011, ”the separate roads and areas for Palestinians, the humiliation at roadblocks and checkpoints ,the evictions and house demolitions.“” He compared areas in East Jerusalem, where Palestinian live under threat of eviction, to the notorious District Six in Capetown. In 2014, he called for support of the BDS campaign to boycott Israel, pointing to the success of boycott as a non violent means of bringing about change.

The world has lost a great leader, a person of clarity, and humanity. His quip that he would rather be in “ the other place” , if Heaven was filled with homophobes, sums him up so well! May he Rest in Power.

Betty Purcell

Link to a Report : New Year’s Eve Protest Supporting Palestine, Halfpenny Bridge, Dublin

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