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Activists angry after BRICS Summit protest moved to venue far from gathering of leaders

Activists angry after BRICS Summit protest moved to venue far from gathering of leaders
People gathered at Innisfree Park in Sandton on 22 August 2023 protest against the BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Law enforcement agencies gave permission for a protest against the BRICS Summit — but at a venue nearly 4km from the gathering.

Lesya Karpenko, the Gauteng representative of the Ukrainian Association of South Africa (Uaza), was informed on Tuesday that their protest against the BRICS Summit could go ahead at Innisfree Park in Johannesburg, which, she said, defeated the purpose as the park was about 4km from where the summit was being held.

“We were put here, at the park … not to spoil the picture that Russia is welcome here [in South Africa],” Karpenko said, standing near law enforcement officers from the SAPS and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department who were observing the protest.

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People gathered at Innisfree Park in Sandton on 22 August 2023 protest against the BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

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People gathered at Innisfree Park. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“In the morning, there were more police than protesters,” she remarked.  

Amnesty International Africa and the All United Amhara Association in South Africa also joined the protest, voicing concerns about human rights violations by BRICS countries.

Uaza called for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. “Currently, Russia is bombing our grain stores and so grain is just being destroyed and nobody is getting it,” Karpenko said.

“We also call for our children to be returned. There are thousands of illegally misplaced children who are detained in Russia, and we want them to be back as soon as possible.

“Leaders of countries [should] demand the immediate release of prisoners of war and political prisoners so that they can get the necessary attention and medical treatment … because they are illegally detained.”

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A protestor at Innisfree Park at a protest against the BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Sibusiso Khasa, a campaigner for Amnesty International South Africa, said civil society was deeply concerned at the Russian crackdown on human rights activists, including anti-war activists.

Khasa said that as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, South Africa was expected to play a key role among BRICS member states in promoting and protecting human rights. This had not recently been evident, as demonstrated by South Africa’s lack of condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an action that goes against the UN Charter.

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Police visibility outside the Sandton Convention Centre ahead of the BRICS summit on 22 August 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

The charter “codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations”.  

Khasa said BRICS’ promotion and protection of human rights had regressed. This was evident with the maltreatment of Muslim communities in parts of India and China. Freedom of association, assembly and expression were also consistently violated in India and China, where human rights activists faced intimidation, detention and harassment by state authorities.

Yilmsahewa Tate Kebede, an organiser at the All United Amhara Association in South Africa, said BRICS had to stop giving the current Ethiopian government aid while it was killing and displacing persons who belong to the Amhara ethno-linguistic group, one of the two largest in Ethiopia. DM

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  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Typical of the spineless, fraudulent and cowardly Cyril and his government. They want to paint a picture of SA being prosperous, modern, orderly and functioning by hiding the truth. All choreographed but go a couple of miles away and the truth will be out. We prevent the Dalai Lama from arriving, but welcome murderers, dictators, psychopaths and the worst human rights abusers. We roll out the carpet for Mnangagwa etc. and no doubt would have bent over backwards and tripped all over ourselves to accommodate the evil mass-murdering monster Putin. This is what SA is under the vile anc! They think by sanitizing the Ukrainian protest by deliberately preventing them their civic right to protest where it matters, it will go away. It just shows how insecure, pathetic and hypocritical Cyril and his obnoxious anc is whilst they sprout that our foreign policy etc. is based on human rights. Only an utter idiot would believe the bile that they utter! I hope the US and the West take note, especially the former on AGOA. Cyril’s recent “about turn” on the war and his super cozy relationship with Russia is all smoke and mirrors designed to show our “non-alignment” credentials and placate them. SA is so firmly in the Putin camp and all the human rights abusers and murderers.

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