Sober­ing theme marks Tutu peace lec­ture

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - CARYN DOLLEY

SELF- en­rich­ment of a few while ig­nor­ing poverty af­fect­ing the masses is driv­ing un­rest around the county and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

That was the sober­ing mes­sage de­liv­ered re­peat­edly last night at the Sixth An­nual Des­mond Tutu In­ter­na­tional Peace Lec­ture at the Artscape. The lec­ture co­in­cided with the arch­bishop emer­i­tus’s 85th birth­day. Tutu, who was hos­pi­talised last month as a re­sult of an in­fec­tion fol­low­ing ear­lier surgery re­lated to his prostate cancer, ar­rived in a wheel­chair.

He chuck­led as guests wished him happy birth­day, and smiled broadly as a choir and scores of gath­ered guests sang to him. The lec­ture was moved to the Artscape from its usual venue at the Univer­sity of the Western Cape due to stu­dent protests.

Dur­ing a wel­come speech, UWC vice-chan­cel­lor Ty­rone Pre­to­rius said he re­gret­ted the move, but he had dis­cussed the un­rest with Tutu, who he was glad to see in good health and spir­its.

Pre­to­rius said the protests were “a di­rect re­sult of the fail­ure to ad­dress poverty”.

Tutu’s daugh­ter, Mpho Tu­tu­van Furth, said there would be no real peace in cities if the prom­ise of democ­racy was not de­liv­ered. She said “bet­ter lives for all our cit­i­zens” needed to ap­plied, rather than only for self-en­rich­ing in­di­vid­u­als who ef­fec­tively stole from the state.

Hina Ji­lani, a multi-award win­ning hu­man rights ac­tivist and ad­vo­cate for Pak­istan’s supreme court of ap­peal, de­liv­ered the of­fi­cial lec­ture, fo­cus­ing on the same theme.

Ji­lani has been awarded sev­eral na­tional and in­ter­na­tional awards, in­clud­ing the Hu­man Rights Award by the Lawyers Com­mit­tee for Hu­man Rights in 1999 and the Amnesty In­ter­na­tional Ginetta Sa­gan Award for Women’s Rights in 2000.

Ji­lani called Tutu her hero, say­ing he was not just an “in­spi­ra­tion for mil­lions around the world”, but also a voice of hope in tur­bu­lent times.

Ji­lani said sev­eral coun­tries in Africa and Asia were tran­si­tion­ing from au­thor­i­tar­ian rule.

“Some of these coun­tries show vis­i­ble signs of re­ver­sal of the ini­tial ad­vance­ments, and are trapped in a per­pet­ual state of tran­si­tion.

“Tran­si­tion to democ­racy has re­mained merely pro­ce­dural and while in­creas­ing their power to con­trol, lit­tle has been done by gov­ern­ments to build the ca­pac­ity of the state to pro­tect,” she warned.

This was caus­ing so­cial and po­lit­i­cal crises to resur­face.

Ji­lani said gov­ern­ments were ig­nor­ing hu­man rights norms too.

“Public re­ac­tion to the de­nial of eco­nomic, so­cial and cul­tural rights is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing the rea­son for public protest,” she said.

“In many coun­tries, sta­bil­ity rather than de­vel­op­ment has be­come an im­per­a­tive to be achieved through the use of state force to re­press pop­u­lar move­ments… Such ac­tions have re­sulted in in­creased public re­sent­ment against au­thor­i­ties, and in nar­row­ing the space for di­a­logue.”

The gov­er­nance prac­tices which states adopted de­ter­mined the risks faced by res­i­dents. Pre­vi­ous lec­tures were de­liv­ered by out­go­ing Public Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela and for­mer first lady Graça Machel.

Full speech in to­mor­row’s Week­end Ar­gus.

Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu is sur­rounded by well-wish­ers as he ar­rives in a wheel­chair at Artscape last night.

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