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Protests Against Obama Visit to South Africa

A broad coalition of South African organizations, including COSATU, has called for mass demonstrations against President Obama's visit to Johannesburg. Coalition is in opposition to the University of Johannesburg plan to award Obama with an honorary doctorate for his contributions to the international community. Among the coalition demands are freedom for Bradley Manning, support for the Cuban Five, and the closing of Guantanamo.

No You Can't Honor Obama Coalition, protesting the honorary award from the University of Johannesburg,San Francisco BayView
June 20, 2013
COSATU joins the millions of people and workers the world over, particularly on the African continent and in South Africa, who are outraged at the horrifying record of US foreign policy in the world. We are particularly disappointed by the Obama administration`s record in continuing the appalling US foreign policy performance as per the following indicators, amongst others;
  • The militarisation of international relations for the multinational companies and their profit-seeking classes in the US, as evidently manifested in the role of the US in world affairs. For instance, just before the April 14 Presidential elections in Venezuela, RT News reported on a Wikileaks Cable from 2006 in which, in the words of RT, then "ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to infiltrate and destabilize former President Hugo Chavez` government," including through programs of the USAID and its Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). On May Day, Bolivian President Evo Morales informed the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia that he wanted USAID to leave Bolivia because he (quite reasonably) suspected USAID of trying to subvert his own government as well.
  • Linda J. Bilmes and Michael D. Intriligator, ask in a recent paper, "How many wars is the US fighting today?" they then proceed to answer the question by saying that, "today US military operations are involved in scores of countries across all the five continents. The US military is the world`s largest landlord, with massive military facilities in nations around the world, and with a significant presence in Bahrain, Djibouti,Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Kyrgyzstan, in addition to long-established bases in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and the UK. Some of these are vast, such as the Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar, the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command, which has recently been expanded to accommodate up to 10,000 troops and 120 aircraft".
  • It must also be further noted that, there are Special Operations forces in different countries, which are largely responsible for the destabilisation of various countries and communities. Jeremy Scahill in Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, writes, "By mid-2010, the Obama administration had increased the presence of Special Operations forces from 60 countries to 74 countries". The world is literally a battlefield with conflicts being waged by the US (or with the "help" of the US). And, no country is off-limits to US military forces.
  • US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is said to be involved in direct or indirect military-to-military relationships with 54 African countries.
The devastating result of all these is that we see the intensification of;
  • The Brutal occupation of Palestine by the Israeli apartheid state, with the full support of the US and the EU, together with their Middle East puppet regimes
  • The Continued jailing of the 5 (now 4) Cuban heroes in US jails for their role in fighting terrorism against the Cuban people
  • The Continued existence of the Guantanamo Bay prison, which has been condemned by various international bodies, including Amnesty International and Nobel laureates as very inhumane and in contravention of international law
  • The ruthless and savage looting of our natural resources by US and other multinational companies in close collaboration with corrupt elites in various countries
  • The US support for oppressive regimes that benefit US narrow interests
  • US aggressive opposition to climate justice and ways to end global warming and destruction of our environment, in pursuit of narrow profit interests
  • US policies that perpetuate unequal and exploitative trade relations and underdevelopment in Africa and the rest of the developing world
  • US policies of nuclear proliferation and arming of space to the detriment of peace, justice, democracy and human rights.
In this regard, COSATU fully supports and actively participate in the growing global and national movement for peace, justice, human rights, environmental justice and the right to development for all.
We call on all workers, communities and activists, particularly working with our alliance partners, the SACP and the ANC, as well as the various progressive civil society formations, to join the announced activities throughout the country, to demand an end to US warmongering and for a new foreign policy based on respect for human dignity and justice for the people of the world, including the people of the US itself.
The world-wide struggle against imperialism must be intensified and the people of Africa must lead the struggle to reclaim their natural resources and rise against oppressive dictators of various kinds that undermine their developmental and democratic aspirations for a better world. This means building progressive and popular working class alternatives to the crisis and failures of capitalism and dictatorship.
A new and just world is not only possible, but necessary NOW!
    Cosatu backs `NObama' coalition's protests plan
By Karl Gernetzky
June 24, 2013   
Successive US presidents have presided over increasing militarisation of the country's foreign policy, and mass protests over US President Barack Obama's state visit this week will seek to "persuade and influence" the South African government to challenge how the US acts in the global community.
This is according to a coalition of groups planning mass protests against Mr Obama's state visit, part of a three-country African tour that includes Senegal and Tanzania.
Speaking in Johannesburg on Sunday, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Gauteng chairman Phutas Tseki said "progressive forces" in South Africa would unite to reject the "unwelcome visit".
"Friendship with South Africa must be based on valued justice, freedom and equality and these the US has offended, undermined and ridiculed through its actions in the global front," said Mr Tseki.
The group, which also includes, among others, the South African Communist Party, student organisations, Friends of Cuba Society and Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel, has planned a "national day of action" on Friday, when Mr Obama lands in South Africa.
They will march from the Union Buildings to the US embassy in Pretoria. Other protests are planned for Friday outside the University of Johannesburg, and in Lenasia.
The group has cited, among other things, US economic sanctions on Cuba, failure by the US to act on climate change and the continued existence of the Guantanamo Bay prison. The group on Sunday demanded the disbanding of the US's African Command, which has about 5,000 personnel mostly based at its German headquarters and in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
This is Mr Obama's second trip to sub-Saharan Africa having visited Ghana during his first term.
In a transcript of a briefing given on the visit last Friday, US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said trade and investment as well as democracy and democratic institution building would be part of the agenda.
He said the trip "ultimately disproves the notion that we are somehow securitising the relationship with Africa" as the focus was on "broader agenda and the fundamental interconnection between democracy, development and security".
Deputy International Relations and Co-operation Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said the strength of South Africa's political and economic relations with the US spoke of the importance of the visit, adding that in terms of the protests South Africa is a "democratic country and anyone who wants to protest for whatever reason can do so".
The visit was likely to focus on regional issues and continental issues, such as stimulating trade and investment, he said.
The Democratic Alliance has called on International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to distance herself and the government from Cosatu's planned anti-Obama demonstrations, saying that the protests were "cheap political point scoring" and "an embarrassment".
The Muslim Lawyers Association had requested the National Prosecuting Authority issue an arrest warrant for Mr Obama, based on the use of drones for targeted killings, however this had been turned down and indication had also been given than an investigation would not be initiated during Mr Obama's visit.
June 19, 2013
We as South Africans in the form of the South African Communist Party (SACP), the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL), the South African Students Congress (SASCO), the Muslim Students Association(MSA), the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Friend of Cuba Society (FOCUS), Boycott, Divestment and Sanctionsagainst Israel in South Africa (BDS South African), and the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), declare our utmost rejection of visit of the United States of America President, Barak Obama to our country.
Our rejection is based the USA`s arrogant, selfish and oppressive foreignpolicies, treatment of workers and international trade relations that are rooted in war mongering, neo-liberal super-exploitation, colonial racism and the disregard and destruction of the environment, thus making the realisation of a just and peaceful world impossible.
The coming of President Barak Obama to South Africa is the first ever since he was elected head of state. The USA under his leadership has escalated its assault on human rights, militarisation of international relations and continuing galloping of world resources at the absolute expense of the environment and oppressed peoples of the world.
The USA is deeply implicated in the oppression of the people of Western Sahara, the only remaining colonised country on the African continent,colonised by Morocco. And to this day, the release of the Cuban Five and a continuing baseless embargo against the country and peoples of Cuba still seems unmovable issues of commitment for the USA. The call for therelease of the Cuban Five has been an important international campaignsupported even by Nobel Prize winners who released a document calling on their freedom; Zhores Alferov (Nobel Prize for Physics, 2000), Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize, 1984), Nadine Gordimer (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1991), Rigoberta Menchú (Nobel Peace Prize, 1992), Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (Nobel Peace Prize, 1980), Wole Soyinka (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1986), José Saramago (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1996), Günter Grass (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1999).
The criminal occupation of Palestine by the Apartheid State of Israel, as awell-known fact in our country, has only been made possible by the USA`s financial and political support for the Racist Israeli regime. This is expressed in the main, through both its open support and military donations that come to billions of dollars every year - with USA aid to Israel being more than that of Africa, Latin America and Asia combined.
In addition, the USA has for years been singlehandedly blocking any progress and is totally divorced and isolated from the consensus of the international community. In fact, the USA is the most frequent user of the UN veto: it has used its veto power over 40 times to defend Apartheid Israel. As South Africans, we painfully recall how the US used its veto power to defend Apartheid South Africa, particularly from UN resolutions imposing economic and military sanctions. The USA, under Regan and others, suported Apartheid South Africa and was on the wrong side of history. Why does the USA not learn from its history, and be on the right side of history this time?
Finally, the United States` policies on the environment, specifically the fact that it is one of the largest contributors to global warming, yet to this day continues to refuse the observing and singing of the Kyoto protocol, is simply unacceptable.
Progressive forces in South Africa have consistently been raising theseissues and many others regarding the role of the USA in the global community. We categorically make it known, that the visit of the USA President to South Africa is an unwelcomed visit that will be protested, picketed and resisted by all justice and peace-loving peoples of this country. Friendship with South Africa must be based on values of justice, freedom and equality and these the USA has offended, undermined and ridiculed through its actions in the global front.
The following issues will be highlighted in upcmoing protests of PresidentBarak Obama:
1. The championing and maintenance, by the USA, in the militarisation of international relations and co-operation. It is a well-known fact that the USA approaches conflicts in the world through inciting, encouraging as well and championing war, primarily driven by its business interests often masqueraded in the language of defence of human rights. The militarisation of international relations is in the main exemplified by institutions like Africom, NATO, and the continuing double standards around nuclear disarmament that the USA preaches when it comes to countries in the South, whilst continuing to collaborate with on nuclearweapones with Israel.
2. The continued greed in the guzzling of world resources by the USA epitomised by its encouragement and support of its multinational companies that have no regard for the environment, human rights,progressive labour laws etc.
3. The USA`s active support and defence of colonial and oppressive regimes. This is the one aspect of USA foreign policy that most exposes its hypocritical character where regimes that support its interest are never opposed; instead they are not only supported but maintained through amongst other things, the USA war machinery. Chief amongst these is Israel, which continues to serve as the USA`s frontline state in the Middle-East whilst suppressing and maintaining its racist apartheid policies on Palestinian people. Another example, is the USA`s support to Morrocco, that is oppressiing and colonialally occuppying Western Sahara, and increasingly the support of oppressive regimes like the onein Colombia.
4. The USA`s role maintaining the underdevelopment of the African continent and its imperialistinc trade realtions with African countries.
5. The unjustifiable bloacke on Cuba and unfair imprisonment of the Cuban 5.
6. The United States of America is the single largest contributor to global warming which is condemning the world into catastrophic environmental disasters.
Key Programs
Members of the public are invited to participate in a National Day of Actionon the 28th of June, with a primary event taking place in the form of a protestmarch from Union Building to the United States of America Embassy in Pretoria: Date: 28 June, 2013, Friday - 10h00