By TANJA NOWOTNY
The United Nations has declared the situation in South Africa a crime against humanity and the best way to overcome this problem is to implement sanctions, a member of the African National Congress said yesterday.
“All of humanity has to be concerned about the plight of the people and the ramifications of racial discrimination in South Africa,” Yusuf Salooje said to about 30 people at a seminar at Centennial College’s Progress campus last Wednesday.
The seminar, entitled The Need For Sanctions, was part of the college’s South African Awareness day. Seminar was held at each of the college’s four campuses.
In 1972, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said ‘either stop trading or stop condemning” South Africa, Salooje said, adding that no other leader has chosen to put it in such a “clear-cut” manner since.
Today, Canada continues to condemn South Africa, yet still trades with them, he said.
In 1985, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney spoke before the United Nations and said that no changes had been made with apartheid in South Africa for a year, so he agreed to mandatory sanctions and a withdrawal of contact with the country, Salooje said.
But, in actuality, the opposite scenario occurred, as trade between Canada and South Africa increased by 10 per cent, he said.
“We (ANC) are suggesting that apartheid isn’t just a South African problem, but a global issue,” Salooje said.
Within South Africa, however, it is illegal to advocate sanctions and those who do face imprisonment without “recourse or trial,” Salooje said.
Sanctions alone won’t bring the South African government down, but they can be considered merely an “ajunct to broaden the struggle of liberalization within South Africa,” he said.
“No country can simply come in and liberate another,” Salooje said. “Liberation must come fromwithin, but (sanctions) can aid to making the process of isolating a regime that is so dispicable, easier.”
Isolation, he said, will help “to drive home the point” that apartheid isn’t something that should be promoted and it shows that other countries are willing to do something to stop it.
The External Affairs office of the Canadian government, along with other European countries, can’t isolate South Africa because they feel they don’t have the “contact,” Salooje said.
Yet over the past two days, European countries, including Canada, have withdrawn their ambassadors from Iran because the Iranian government issued a death warrant for Salman Rushdie.
South Africa has issued death threats against black people for many years, he said.
In June 1976, hundreds of children between seven and 17 years of age were murdered for demonstrating against the inferior education blacks receive, Salooje said.
But not one country recalled their ambas- sadors or isolated South Africa over this incident, he said.
For one intellectual life, society is prepared to go out on a limb in the name of free speech, “but why not in the name of freedom of humanity?” he said.
“What (countries) did to Iran may or may not be correct, but what’s good for the goose, let’s be consistent, is good for the gander,” he said about the withdrawal of ambassadors.
Salooje said that the world feels the only way to reach solutions is to release Nelson Mandela and have a round table discussion with Mandela, international leaders and the South African government to “hammer out a solution.”
Even though South Africa has persisted in not releasing Mandela, Salooje said that if Europe, Canada and the United States would apply considerable pres- sure, “I bet the last dollar I have that within a matter of months Nelson Mandela will be released,” he said.