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Khulumani International Lawsuit appeal lodged

Eleven years after democracy, on Freedom Day 2005, the Khulumani International Lawsuit Appeal to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, was lodged in New York.

Eleven years after democracy, on Freedom Day 2005, the Khulumani International Lawsuit Appeal to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, was lodged in New York.

Khulumani Support Group is the only national South African organisation of victims and survivors of gross human rights apartheid abuses. The organisation is the first named plaintiff in the lawsuit, in addition to nearly 100 other named individual plaintiffs. A significant proportion of Khulumani's membership did not have the opportunity to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and are thus not among the "designated" victims of the TRC.

The appeal lodged today is a step forward towards real freedom for these victims and survivors who have mostly been pushed to the very fringes of society following the completion of the TRC's work.

The lawsuit is also known as "Khulumani et al., vs Barclays National Bank Ltd et al.". That Barclays Bank is the first named of 23 foreign corporations being accused of "aiding and abetting" the apartheid regime is an alphabetical accident. The irony is, that in the same week that Barclays Bank announced its intention to take control of ABSA bank in South Africa, an appeal for a lawsuit to make Barclays Bank, amongst others, accountable for profiting from apartheid, has been lodged in New York.

South Africa does not have an international law that can require foreign corporations to be accountable to the victims and survivors of gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the apartheid regime.

Khulumani Support Group does not object to foreign investment - and if such foreign investment does in fact improve the living conditions of most South Africans - Khulumani would welcome it. But those corporations that profited from the torture, extrajudicial killings (murder and assassinations), rape, detention without trial, and indiscriminate shootings of South African citizens should not be welcomed with open arms until they have made a commitment to participating in redressing these past wrongs.

Business granted itself a "blanket amnesty" by failing to appear before the TRC. Khulumani Support Group would be prepared to co-operate with Barclays Bank and the other corporations in providing support for programmes that address the needs of identified victims and survivors of gross apartheid human rights abuses and to determine a mechanism for redressing these injustices. It is now time for "VEE" - "victims' economic empowerment" - to be instituted alongside BEE.

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