The FW de Klerk Foundation said FW de Klerk, who was in February this year forced to retract statements that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, never violated any human rights while he was in power. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
The FW de Klerk Foundation said FW de Klerk, who was in February this year forced to retract statements that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, never violated any human rights while he was in power. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

FW de Klerk Foundation says allegation that De Klerk was involved in human rights violations baseless

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Jun 21, 2020

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Cape Town – In response to the decision of the American Bar Association to cancel a programme to host former president, FW de Klerk, his foundation said the allegation that the last apartheid president was involved in gross violations of human rights is baseless.

The ABA had planned to have a conversation about “rule of law, constitutional democracy, minority rights, social change, racism and global security” with De Klerk but cancelled its programme after it received a flood of objections from former truth and reconciliation commissioners, human rights activists and American academics, according to media reports.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the foundation said De Klerk was the only national leader who has ever dismantled an existing nuclear arsenal and was in defence of the country's constitution.

It said all these roles should be of considerable interest to any audience that is concerned about the peaceful resolution of long-standing racial conflicts, the promotion of a nuclear-weapon-free world and the evolution of nonracial constitutional democracy.

Responding directly to criticism that De Klerk was involved in gross human rights violations and sat in meetings of the apartheid government where assassinations and brutal raids were discussed, the foundation said the allegations are “outrageous and unfounded”.

“However, in the current superheated climate relating to issues of race, the invitation has elicited vitriolic reaction from activists in South Africa and the United States. In the process, these activists have once again made outrageous and unfounded allegations against Mr De Klerk. The role that FW de Klerk played in initiating and co-directing South Africa’s transition to non-racial democracy is a matter of historic fact – and was confirmed by Nelson Mandela,” the foundation said in the lengthy statement.

Additionally, it said the leader who was in February this year forced to retract statements that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, never violated any human rights while he was in power.

“The allegation that De Klerk was involved in gross violations of human rights is baseless. Despite its diligent investigation of all of the evidence before it, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) failed in its efforts to link him with any such action. However, it appears unacceptable in the current super-heated racial climate that any leader from South Africa’s troubled past should be permitted to retain the slightest vestige of honour. Leaders should be judged - not by the situation they inherited from their predecessors - but by their success or failure in wrestling with the historic forces and passions of their times – and by the legacy that they leave to those who come after them.”

However, Lukanyo Calata, the journalist son of former freedom fighter, Fort Calata of the Cradock 4 and another of those who had objected to ABA, insists that De Klerk has a case to answer for human rights violations and assassinations under his watch.

“Yes, it is critical that De Klerk and all other apartheid criminals are hauled to court soonest to be held accountable. These people committed crimes against our humanity. The ANC government’s failures to hold them accountable has emboldened them to a point where they even denied that apartheid was a crime. It is high time the ANC led government prioritised all matters arising from the TRC so we can finally start building a society based on accountability, justice, equality and love," Calata said. 

Responding to the decision of the American Bar Association, Calata said he was ecstatic that they were able to influence the decision of the association. 

"We hope also that other organisations around the world will follow the example of the ABA and reconsider their decisions to have De Klerk address them on issues pertaining to rule of law and constitutionalism."

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