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Letter from Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary

14 February 2017

Dear Bheki Ntshalintshali,
COSATU General Secretary

The International Trade Union Confederation [ITUC] stands in solidarity with Bongani Masuku, the International Relations Secretary of South African Trade Unions [COSATU], who is facing a trial before the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg today, 14 February 2017.

We raise our concern by the fact that brother Bongani is charged with anti-semitism and hate-speech for solely defending and supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people and for the link of COSATU with the international solidarity movement against Israeli settlement in the Palestinian territories.

Moreover, we denounce the South African Human Rights Commission [SAHRC] ruling which is clearly in contradiction with the provisions contained in section 9[06] of the South African Human Rights Commission Act, No. 54 of 1994 which stipulates that ‘the procedure to be followed in conducting an investigation shall be determined by the Commission with due regard to the circumstances of each case’.

We believe that the hastiness of the ruling constitutes a misuse of the mechanisms in which the Commission should operate in order to guarantee the respect and full realization of the rights enshrined in the constitution, including the right of freedom of expression.

We consider the charges pressed against Bongani are a tool for further silencing the trade union movement and all supporters for Palestinian people’s freedom. We stand in solidarity with COSATU to ensure that Bongani is guaranteed a fair trial and right to appeal and that his right to freedom of expression is duly respected as enshrined in the South African Constitution.

We remain at your disposal for any solidarity action that might be needed in support of COSATU and brother Bongani in the upcoming period.

Please do not hesitate to get back to us and share additional information and updates of the trial.

Yours sincerely,

Sharan Burrow
ITUC General Secretary