Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
التضامن الإيرلندي الفلسطيني

Over 30 Irish Anti-Apartheid veterans call for Irish Eurovision boycott

In an Open Letter published in today’s Irish Times, 32 veterans of the Irish movement against South African apartheid have called for an Irish boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest due to be held in Israel next week, comparing Israel to Apartheid-era South Africa.

It is the latest move in the Irish Campaign to Boycott Eurovision 2019 in Apartheid Israel.

The signatories to the letter include renowned Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid strikers Mary Manning and Karen Gearon, former Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and Secretary of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement (IAAM) Gary Kilgallen, Rafique Mottiar and Louise Asmal respectively. Further signatories comprise 10 former members of the IAAM Executive Committee, including co-founder Anthony Coughlan, Sister Cora Richardson and Lalloo Bhagwan, and many anti-apartheid activists such as travel writers Dervla Murphy and Mary Russell, artist Robert Ballagh, playwrights Margaretta D’Arcy and Donal O’Kelly, and journalist and humanitarian Lynn Geldof.

The letter compares repression under South African apartheid to repression against Palestinians under Israel’s apartheid regime, saying that “Israel is an extremely repressive state that oppresses and discriminates against the millions of Palestinians who live under its control, and which forces millions more Palestinian refugees to live in involuntary exile. It is a state that we believe practices apartheid against the Palestinian people.”

It goes on to note that many South African veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle and the ANC itself see the same parallels, with some like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils believing Israel’s is a worse form apartheid.

The authors then go on to state that when “we were active in the South African solidarity movement, we supported and promoted an international boycott of that apartheid regime” and say this campaign “played a significant role in the ultimate defeat of that regime and the end of racial discrimination in the country.”

Finally, they state their support for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, “including its call for a cultural boycott of Israel”, compare Tel Aviv to South Africa’s notorious Sun City, and call for the Irish Eurovision entrant Sarah McTernan to “stand on the right side of history” by “[listening] to the call from the Palestinian people to do no harm, to not cross their picket line” in the hope that “she will be remembered as an artist who took a brave and principled stance against oppression.”

Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Fatin Al Tamimi, herself a Palestinian, welcomed the letter, saying “This is a wonderful act of solidarity with the Palestinian people’s decades-long struggle for freedom, justice and equality from these giants of the anti-apartheid movement here in Ireland. Those who signed clearly understood what Nelson Mandela meant when he said that ‘our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’ We thank you all for your very moving gesture of support.”


The letter can be read in full on the Irish Times website

The full list and designations (not listed in the Irish Times) for signatories are as follows:

Louise Asmal, co-founder and former Secretary of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement (IAAM)

Robert Ballagh, former member of IAAM

Lalloo Bhagwan, former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Nóra Bhagwan, former member of IAAM

Roger Cole, former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Anthony Coughlan, co-founder and former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Margaretta D’Arcy, former member of IAAM

Seán Edwards, former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Karen Gearon, former Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid striker

Lynn Geldof, former member of IAAM

Eddie Glackin, former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Anne Halliday, former anti-apartheid activist

Charlie Hayes, former Chairperson of East Cork branch of IAAM

Joan Hayes, former member of IAAM

Carla King, former member of IAAM

Frank Keoghan, former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Gary Kilgallen, co-founder and former Chairperson of the IAAM

Deccie Lucey, former member of IAAM

Micheál Mac Aonghusa, former member of IAAM

Cathal Mac Liam, former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Seán Marlow, former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Eugene McCartan, former member of IAAM

Mary Manning, former Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid striker

Bill Meek, former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Frances Mottiar, former member of IAAM

Rafique Mottiar, former Vice-Chairperson of IAAM

Dervla Murphy, former member of IAAM

Daltun O’Ceallaigh, former member of IAAM

Donal O’Kelly, former anti-apartheid activist

Sr. Cora Richardson, former member of the Executive Committee of IAAM

Mary Russell, former member of IAAM

John Swift, former member of IAAM

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