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South African committee adopts Marwan Barghouthi's plight

Oct. 28, 2013 7:08 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 29, 2013 2:21 P.M.)
CAPE TOWN (Ma'an) -- A conference in Cape Town in South Africa taking place on Monday saw the launch of a higher international committee to free Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, a Ma'an reporter said

Noble Prize winners Desmond Tutu and his former cellmate Ahmed Kathrada were among the members of the newly formed committee.

The launch came following a global campaign demanding the release of Marwan Barghouthi from Israeli custody. The campaign was organized by the Kathrada Foundation, which was founded by former South African prisoner Ahmad Kathrada, South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela's cellmate for 26 years.

Part of the ceremony including the signing of the Robben Island Declaration, which reads that signatories commit themselves to defend Marwan Barghouthi as a symbol of the Palestinian people as well as all other Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Solidarity activists from South Africa and other countries signed the declaration.

The statement read in part, "[Marwan Barghouthi] is the most prominent and renowned Palestinian political prisoner, a symbol of the Palestinian people’s quest for freedom, a uniting figure and an advocate of peace based on international law."

Several dignitaries from different countries attended the conference Monday, including many South African former prisoners of the anti-apartheid struggle.

The ceremony took place inside the prison cell in Robben Island at the eastern coast of South Africa where Nelson Mandela served his long term imprisonment by the country's apartheid regime. The prison has since become a museum attracting visitors from all over the world.

Desmond Tutu was a long-time advocate against South Africa's apartheid regime prior to its collapse in 1994, and he is today an active proponent of the global campaign calling for divestment from Israel. He has previously likened Israel's treatment of Palestinians to the treatment of Black South Africans under the apartheid regime.

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