Monday 21 March 2011

Western Cape Religious Leaders' Statement on Human Rights Day

The following statement was issued on 21 March 2011


We the religious leaders of the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, present at the Human Rights Day Celebration in Athlone on 21st March 2011, wish to voice our condemnation of the public behaviour allowed in response to the presence of the Acting Premier of the Western Cape Provincial Government, Ms. Patricia De Lille. We were shocked and saddened that the majority of those present in the stadium, vociferously continued to heckle and boo the Acting Premier of the Province throughout her speech of welcome. Neither the intervention of the Programme Director, Mr. Marius Fransman, or that of the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr. J. Radebe, helped the situation. We felt that only the intervention of the President himself might have saved this moment of gross humiliation, but this was not forthcoming.

That such a demonstration of extreme intolerance should be displayed at the opening of a Human Rights Day celebration is a sad indictment of how far we have grown as a new democracy, with a Constitution based on fundamental human rights, which include freedom of speech and respect for all. Such a display of the abuse of human dignity in a programme entitled ‘Working together to Protect Human Dignity’ does not bode well on our ability to sustain a mature and respectful electoral process in the forthcoming months.

We strongly support the statement from the Human Rights Commission on this matter and call upon all political leaders to uphold the Electoral Code of Conduct and to instil in the electorate an unwavering commitment to the basic rights of respect and human dignity for all.

The Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba. Patron WCRLF

Fr John Oliver. Chairperson WCRLF

Mrs Tahirih Matthee Deputy Chairperson

For further details, contact Fr. John Oliver, 082 7333500, or the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, 021 462 2277

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