Wits mustn't bend to Israel lobby - YCL

League calls for university to drop charges against 11 students who peacefully protested at piano concert

Wits University must drop charges against students and not bend to Israel lobby

The Young Communist League of South Africa [uFasimba] notes with extreme concern, the charges laid by the University of the Witwatersrand against 11 of the students who protested peacefully at a concert sponsored by the Israeli embassy in March.

The students have been accused of spurious charges including singing, protesting and dancing. None of the charges relate to violence or assault. Rather, the students were racially profiled by the concerts organisers and had racist terms hurled at them by the white concert goers such as "monkeys" and "savages".

We believe that outside interference has played a major role in pressuring Wits University to pursue these flimsy charges. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), the main organisation pushing for disciplinary action against the students has a long history of supporting apartheid in South Africa and lobbying against attempts to end it.

The SAJBD intimidated Jewish anti-apartheid activists and did their utmost to prevent US Jews from adopting the global call for the boycott of apartheid South Africa

It is therefore of no surprise that the SAJBD, a supporter of Israeli apartheid and war crimes, is trying to prevents students' right to protest and freedom of association. While our leaders were imprisoned and in exile, students and peace loving people all over the world supported our struggle by disrupting and protesting against South African cultural and sporting events. 

International solidarity was one of the pillars that helped us in our fight against an oppressive regime and thus we have an enormous debt of gratitude to repay by standing in solidarity with the Palestinians and all oppressed people of the world.

Last month, the Community Security Organisation (CSO), under the supervision of the SAJBD president Zev Krengel, assaulted peaceful protestors, illegally restrained them and stole their property. 

Our hard earned freedom and right to protest are under threat from a powerful lobby, acting with total impunity and disregard or South African law.

All students and peace loving people should join us in recognising the threat to our democracy that the charges against the 11 students represent. We call on Wits University, with its proud history of struggle against the oppressive South African regime, to reject the Israel lobbies efforts to eradicate all opposition and resistance to both South African and Israeli apartheid. 

Statement issued by Khaya Xaba, YCLSA National Spokesperson, May 8 2013

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter