Wednesday, July 25, 2007

High South African Union official detained by Israeli security in South African airport:

South African Municipal

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Press Statement July 19th 2007 11am

SAMWU First Vice President detained,
strip searched by Israeli security

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The First Vice-President of SAMWU, Mr Xolile Nxu, was detained, interrogated and strip searched by Israeli security en route to the Second Annual Conference on Popular Non-Violent Resistance held recently in the West Bank village of Bil’in, Occupied Palestine. The conference was attended by 400 people from across the world, including EU Parliamentarian, Luisa Morgantini. Mr Nxu spoke on South African resistance to Apartheid, and also held discussions with Palestinians about the need for a One State solution to the current occupation.

Mr Nxu arrived at OR Tambo Airport at 9am for a flight leaving at 11am. He was detained by a man in plain clothes who claimed to be “The Chief of Security”. “I was taken to a small room and subjected to a long and abusive interview, during which I was forced to take off my belt and my pants” says Mr Nxu. The Israeli security eventually escorted Mr Nxu directly through customs and onto the plane itself, one minute before it was about to take off, after plastering all his luggage and hand luggage with red stickers.

SAMWU feels that it is very alarming that Israeli security has free reign in OR Tambo airport, with apparently even more power than customs officials. The union was under the impression that South Africa is a sovereign state and that our citizens are not accountable to the Israeli secret police. It is quite notable that no other country apart from Israel has their own offices, secret police and power to bypass customs at our airports.

Mr Nxu’s ordeal did not end there. When he arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel that night at 10pm he was again interrogated until after midnight. He was the last person to be released from the airport. Mr Nxu was then transported to a checkpoint in the West Bank where he was dropped off at 1am. Because of the apartheid system imposed by Israel on the Palestinians, no Palestinian was permitted to collect Mr Nxu at the airport. Mr Nxu had to cross the checkpoint before meeting the Palestinian activists who took him to his accommodation in Bil’in village.

The next day, Mr Nxu accompanied the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Apartheid Wall to a rally demanding the release of Palestinian detainees in the city of Ramallah, just 10 kms away. The group was suddenly stopped at a “temporary checkpoint” and informed that “people from Bil’in are no longer allowed to visit Ramallah”. Mr Abu Ma’an, an elderly leader of the Land Defence Committee in Palestine, was then arrested by Israeli soldiers when he told them that their roadblock was illegal. Mr Nxu then had to intervene and negotiate for Mr Abu Ma’an’s release. Thereafter, the group had to take another arduous route, driving through mountains, to get to Ramallah.

Mr Nxu said that “Israeli Apartheid is worse than South African apartheid. I cannot accept that the very people who were subjected to pogroms in Europe, who understand how it feels, are now doing the very same thing to the Palestinians that was done to them in Europe.”

“Israel must release all detainees now. Israel cannot pretend to want talks with the Palestinians while others are still in prison. America is supporting the consolidation of Israeli Apartheid. The Apartheid Wall itself contravenes the International Court of Justice decision that it must be dismantled. The forced removals of Palestinians from Jerusalem, the imprisonment of children, the humiliation of Palestinians at checkpoints, the theft of their land and house demolitions – all this is tantamount to refusing the Palestinians their rights”.

Mr Nxu also visited the eight meter high concrete wall built by Israel which divides the West Bank into ten Bantustans. “The Apartheid Wall is not for security but has been built specifically to set up a new Palestinian border and to steal land that is now annexed into Israel. Israel is not a democracy but an ethnocracy” said Mr Nxu.

When Mr Nxu left the country he was detained for eight hours at Ben Gurion airport and interrogated about each and every country stamp on his passport. Israeli security also threatened him physically in a failed bid to extract the names of the Palestinian conference organisers from him.

“What I want to know is why was I the only one at that airport who had to go through this? I want to return to a one state democratic Palestine and not a Bantustan homeland, next time I go back. Any two state solution will simply be a Bantustan solution” said Mr Nxu.


For comment call Xolile Nxu, SAMWU First Vice-President on 021 6971151 or 0767549331. For more information on Bil’in village, visit

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