Open letter from Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela to Comrade President Cyril Ramaphosa

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We write to congratulate you on your appointment as President of the African National Congress and affirm our support as the Royal House of Mandela (RHOM) for your leadership at a critical time in the life of our country and the world.

We do so not only because it is widely known that you were President Nelson Mandela’s first choice to succeed him as leader of our movement but also because of your leadership qualities that have already restored a great deal of hope and optimism for ordinary South Africans and I dare say for the oppressed masses of the world.

South Africa’s voice remains a great moral conscience and source of inspiration for millions around the world and especially in global multilateral forums. I recently returned from occupied Palestine and can convey to you the high regard and great respect in which our support for the Palestinian struggle is held. In Hebron we were flocked by young Palestinians on the streets elated at our presence and appreciative of our solidarity.

The unanimous adoption of the resolution in support of the Palestinian struggle at the 54th ANC national general conference has been widely met with jubilation and great expectation.

Whilst we were deliberating at conference a 16-year-old Palestinian girl‚ Ahed Tamimi‚ was arrested from her home in Nabi Saleh in the West Bank. This follows the shooting in the head of her 15-year-old cousin. Earlier this month a 12-year-old boy was arrested and brutally assaulted in Hebron by the heavily armed Israeli Defence Force.

Ahed joins nearly 300 minors languishing in Israeli jails and reports of their abuse is widespread.

This litany of abuse follows a long history of killings‚ massacres and ethnic cleansing since the founding of the state of Israel and continues unabated to this day. One only has to be reminded of the massacres of Deir Yassin‚ Shabra and Chatilla and the seizing of Gaza that saw the world stand by in hopeless silence as innocent children and civilians were bombed to smithereens.

Ahed‚ like most Palestinian youth living under occupation‚ are fearless in their protest against the occupation and witness daily how their parents are humiliated and stripped of their dignity at the hands of the IDF. They also see first hand how innocent children often innocent bystanders are bullied‚ brutalised and beaten.

We know too well from our South African struggle of the great role that youth played in liberating our country and the immense sacrifices that they have made. It is this inspiration that drew Ahed and another 12-year-old girl to visit South Africa to share the story and talk about the realities of living under the brutal apartheid Israeli occupation.

On that occasion she had the opportunity to first-hand relate the harrowing experience of Palestinian children in jail to the president of South Africa.

Today she is not able to tell her story of arrest‚ suffering and trauma because she is imprisoned. The world has responded to the cry of this young girl and her plight at the hands of the IDF. She now enters her sixth day in prison as a minor and we appeal to you to add your voice in calling for her immediate release.

Ahed was dragged out of her bed in the night and arrested. Ahed is a child and‚ like thousands of Palestinian children‚ she could be humiliated and abused if we don’t get her out fast.

Ahed’s been on the frontline defending Palestine since she was seven years old.

Now Ahed needs us to stand up for her. We demand that Ahed and all Palestinian children are released from Israeli prisons now. The international community must put an end to the ill-treatment and detention of Palestinian children. Enough is enough.

We request that you demand that Ahed and all Palestinian children are released from Israeli prisons now. We implore you to add your voice to all the freedom loving citizens of the international community calling for an end to the ill-treatment and detention of Palestinian children. These children are our children just as their struggle is our struggle.

We call on children around the world to join the young souls in Bethlehem where Jesus was born and the rest of the occupied territories who are living under Israeli occupation‚ many of whom are Christian and will be celebrating Christmas in fear and the threat of arrest.

Comrade President‚ let your voice be heard in giving hope to Ahed and all the children in Israeli jails. Let them know that we will not abandon them‚ nor stand by in silence as they face abuse‚ beating and cruel acts of torture.

Let the children of Palestine know that the children of Mandela feel their pain‚ suffering and trauma. Let them know that we stand by their side and are holding them in our hearts. We will not give up until they are all free.

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