Friday, January 28

Desmond Tutu: from the scourge of apartheid to an ally of Otegi and Mas

From Barack Obama to the Queen of England, leading world figures lamented this Sunday the death of the Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, considered a benchmark in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for it.

Tutu passed away peacefully at the age of 90, according to what was reported to the agency France Press (Afp) by people close to him. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, he had not spoken in public for a long time, although lately he could be seen going to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or attend a religious ceremony on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday. Leave a widow, Mama Leah, and four children.

years old, when he turned 85, he claimed that he did not want to be kept alive at any cost. “The dying must have the right to choose how and when they leave Mother Earth,” he wrote in a platform published in ‘The Washington Post’ -. I believe that, along with the wonderful palliative care that exists, among your options should be that of a dignified assisted death.

As a religious leader, he led peaceful marches against racial segregation in South Africa and demanded sanctions against the Pretoria regime, a task for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize nine years before it was jointly received by the leader of the anti-racist struggle Nelson Mandela, friend of Tutu, and the South African president who ended apartheid, Frederick de Klerk, died precisely on November 11. Unlike Madiba, who was imprisoned for 27 years, Tutu did not enter prison due to his religious status.

Truth Commission

Following the end of the racist regime and Mandela’s coming to power in 1994, the charismatic archbishop became president of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that sought reconciliation among the inhabitants of a country divided for decades.

That did not prevent him from harshly criticizing the governments of the African National Congress (ANC), Mandela’s party, as well as denouncing corruption and deficiencies in social aspects such as the fight against AIDS.

Citizens pay tribute to Tutu at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town – Reuters

His aura as a defender of human rights made him a character that different causes sought to take advantage of. In this sense, he lent himself to the interests of the Basque and Catalan independentists after being captured with the awarding of prizes that carried significant remuneration. The government of Juan Jose Ibarretxe In 2008 he was awarded the René Cassin Prize for Human Rights, endowed with more than 15,000 euros, for his “constant” fight against racial discrimination. Ibarretxe himself informed him on a trip to Cape Town. At the meeting, Tutu reciprocated by guaranteeing the Lendakari that he would lead the “Basque conflict” to the so-called Group of Elders, of which Mandela, the former US president, was a part. Jimmy Carter and the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Later, in 2014, he joined the campaign to demand the release of the former Batasuna leader. Arnaldo Otegi, then in prison after being convicted of trying to rebuild the political arm of ETA and described the “more than 500” imprisoned ETA members as “political prisoners”. Otegi, today the leader of EHBildu, thanked him on Twitter yesterday.

The Generalitat of Catalonia, under the presidency of Artur Mas, also awarded Desmond Tutu. In this case it was the 2014 Catalonia International Prize, endowed with 80,000 euros. After receiving it, he asked the Spanish Government to “listen” to the “desire for independence” of “the majority” of Catalans and, although he was in favor of consensus, he considered that a unilateral declaration of independence would be the “second best option.”

Three years later, in 2017, he adhered to a manifesto promoted by Òmnium Cultural in support of the illegal referendum to be held in October of that year.