South Africa: COSATU’s double standard on deaths in police custody
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause, has issued a very strong statement whose headline belies its content.
The headline reads “COSATU calls for an international investigation into the death of Arafat Jaradat in the hands of Israeli security forces” which, on the face of it, doesn’t seem totally unreasonable. That’s Arafat’s picture on the left.
After all, it would not be inappropriate for unions in, say, Israel ,to issue a call for an international investigation into the death in South Africa this week of Mido Macia (pictured, right), a taxi driver, at the hands of the police.
The Histadrut could, if it wished, join with COSATU which has condemned the brutal attack - which was captured on video and which has shocked the world.
After all, the deaths of prisoners anywhere are a matter of concern and trade unions have the right to speak out on these issues.
COSATU’s statement on the police killing in South Africa uses carefully-chosen and objective language — it “welcomes the investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate … In the meantime the officers identified in the video footage, who are still working, must be immediately suspended…. if those responsible are found guilty, they must be harshly punished. We cannot tolerate such conduct from the very people who are employed to protect our safety and security.”
But when writing about Israeli security forces their statement refers to “the Israeli murderous security forces” and instead of calling for a judicial investigation, the punishment of anyone found guilty and so on, as they do in South Africa, they write: “We must isolate anything to do with the apartheid state of Israel and its murderous security regime.”
That’s a double standard that has no place in the labour movement.