19 January 2014, South Africa
As the South African Students Congress (SASCO) we note with shock and great sadness the decision by the University of Witwatersrand to expel about 11 of our comrades from the university (suspended for two years) for fighting for justice and the liberation of the people of Palestine. The comrades were sentenced for having protested against an Israeli sponsored music concert early in 2013 (http://tinyurl.com/p5aek5p). Their protest was due to a variety of resolutions SASCO took and thus supported by all its structures including the Wits Students Representative Council (Wits SRC) to support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
In the sentencing document, SC JC Woodward claims that the protest and “disruption to the [Israeli sponsored] concert damaged the reputation of the University”. As SASCO we are of the opinion that the hosting of the Israeli concert, in the first place (in violation of the cultural boycott of Israel), is what brought the university into disrepute. The Wits 11 students were upholding the good name of Wits University by protesting against the Israeli concert.
We are appalled that in the sentencing of the students Wits University was advocating for a 12 year expulsion for the Wits 11. This is completely anti-education and Wits University should be ashamed that it even asked for such a ridiculous punishment. We are of the opinion that Wits University is punishing its students due to pressure from the Israeli lobby, which professor Habib himself; the Vice Chancellor of Wits University admitted having come under (http://tinyurl.com/puag339).
We are further appalled to hear from the charged students that they were not even informed by Wits University of their sentences yet Professor Adam Habib saw it fit to go to the media and divulge this information. We remind Professor Habib that he is accountable to the students not the media, even though he may enjoy the media spotlight.
SASCO is not shaken and it will continue to struggle for the liberation of the people of Palestine against Apartheid Israel. We will ensure that this year’s Isreal Apartheid Week (IAW2014) taking place in March (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKzzSLC_Xl0) is vibrant and is able to raise the consciousness of the people of this land on the struggle of the people of Palestine. We are very aware that repression, such as that meted by wits management on our comrades, is full proof that our struggle is being felt by the oppressors hence we will accelerate it from here onwards.
Issued by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Students Congress (SASCO)
For more information contact
Ntuthuko Makhombothi (President): 0823125840
Luzuko Buku (Secretary General): 0718793258