Our Lawyers Made Us So Proud at the ICJ

Abahlali baseMjondolo commend the outstanding work by the South African legal team at the International Court of Justice in Hague. Many of us watched with great pride as our brilliant legal team stood in front of the world to protect humanity and end the devastating attacks against the people of Gaza that have led to the loss of more than 23 000 lives, including more than 8 000 children.

We do not see the importance of this case as being restricted to proving to the ICJ that the Israeli state is committing genocide. It is also a statement of conscience to the people of the world, and encouragement to the huge numbers of people around the world who have taken to the streets in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

We welcome the support of progressive governments in Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia for the action taken by the South African government. We also support the very strong statement issued by the government of Namibia condemning the decision by the German government to support the Israeli state at the ICJ.

The western media continues to condone the attacks on civilians in Gaza with its obvious and crude biases towards the oppressors and against the oppressed. They continue to refer to the attacks as a war between Israel and Hamas. This is not a war, it is a cowardly and genocidal attack on civilians by a country with one of the most powerful armies in the world, an army backed by the United States, the most powerful and dangerous state in the world.

Our movement has always been on the side of the oppressed. Until the South African government opened the case against Israel at the ICJ we had never taken a position or issued a statement commending our government in almost twenty years of struggle. We have faced severe repression under the South African government, ranging from illegal and violent evictions to the jailing and assassination of our leaders. However, politics must be guided by principles and when the South African government took the decision to stand up for justice for Palestine we offered our full support for that decision. We will continue to support any further actions motivated by genuine solidarity with the people of Gaza, and with any other oppressed people anywhere in the world.

We have a long and great tradition of radical lawyering in South Africa. Our movement has worked with a number of brilliant and committed radical lawyers since 2005. We were so proud to see this tradition show itself to the world in the struggle to insist that the humanity of every person must be recognised and defended.

The great step that the South African government has taken on the global stage to end genocide must also be undertaken internally to end oppression. They must treat their own people with the same dignity. Brutal evictions, cuts to social spending, corruption and political repression cannot continue to be the order of the day. Singalingisi ihlamvu lona elishanela kude kube kungcolile eduze.

Abahlali baseMjondolo, or AbM, is a shack-dwellers' movement in South Africa. It campaigns to improve the living conditions of poor people and to democratize society from below. The movement refuses party politics and boycotts elections. It's key demand is that the social value of urban land should take priority over its commercial value and it campaigns for the public expropriation of large privately owned landholdings. Read other articles by Abahlali baseMjondolo, or visit Abahlali baseMjondolo's website.