6 December 2013 – FIDH and its 178 member organisations throughout the world, including Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) in South Africa, pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and express their sincere condolences to his wife and children and to the entire nation of South Africa.
Mandela was a man who tirelessly dedicated his life to fighting arbitrariness and injustice. He was imprisoned for 27 years for his resolute fight against racism and segregation and was a symbol of courage and self-sacrifice in the face of oppressive regimes. His isolation allowed those upholding apartheid to preserve a political system entirely built upon violence, racial discrimination and inequalities; his liberation marked the inevitable dismantling of this system.
Today, in a South Africa that is still characterised by challenges of equality, social justice and security, and in a world where resistance to authoritarianism, discrimination, and the temptation of isolationism still holds its place, it is essential to draw inspiration from the immeasurable political, intellectual and ideological legacy of this pioneer of modern revolutions. His outstanding contribution to the promotion of human rights and democratic principles throughout the world will remain in everyone’s memories.
The Embodiment of Universal Struggles
“Nelson Mandela was the true embodiment of the legitimate and universal fight against oppression, discrimination, racism, colonialism, poverty, conflicts. He will forever remain an extraordinary inspiration for all those who defend democratic principles and universality of human rights,” declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.
The Symbol of Transformation
“Mandela symbolised ubuntu and the strength of principles, in the face of oppression. His courage and determination showed us how, in the face of injustice, we should never give up the struggle for truth, fairness and justice. He transformed his society and indeed the world, by living his values” says Alice Mogwe, FIDH Deputy Secretary General (Botswana).
Laying the Foundations of a Democratic Society
“The South Africa under apartheid wanted to establish differences in law, the South Africa under Mandela has tirelessly tried to draw its strength from differences. This man of peace, who dedicated his restored freedom to found a democratic and multi-racial South African society, never showed hatred or resentment,” declared Sheila Muwanga Nabachwa, FIDH Vice-President (Uganda).
“Nelson Mandela succeeded in giving a humanistic vision to his political action to reconcile a population that had been divided by decades of arbitrariness and discrimination. He is a true model from who our present rulers should draw inspiration,” declared Dismas Kitenge, FIDH Vice President (DRC).
Promoting Peace and Democracy Beyond Borders
“The fight of Nelson Mandela for human rights continued to illuminate the twilight of his life, beyond the borders of his country. While many conflicts in Africa continue to claim thousands of victims, it is time for our continent to build the foundations of the peace advocated by Mandela,” declared Drissa Traoré, FIDH Vice President (Côte d’Ivoire)
Standing by the Most Vulnerable
“Nelson Mandela’s struggle against social and economic inequalities, for women’s rights, children’s rights, and against the stigmatisation of people living with HIV-AIDS, has made of him one of the best ambassadors of the voiceless,” declared Paul Nsapu, FIDH Secretary General (DRC).