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Mandela’s grandson rebukes Labour's Lammy for Gaza protest criticism

Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela says the UK shadow foreign secretary should stop being 'an apologist for the ongoing genocide' and heed his grandfather's words
David Lammy addresses delegates on the second day of the annual Labour Party conference in Liverpool, on 9 October, 2023 (AFP)
David Lammy addresses delegates on the second day of the annual Labour Party conference in Liverpool, on 9 October 2023 (AFP)

Late South African president Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, has rebuked statements by the UK Labour Party’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy about pro-Palestine protests taking place in US universities.

In a statement posted online, Mandela’s grandson said Lammy should stop being “an apologist for genocide and instead encourage all students on UK and European university campuses to emulate their fellow students in the USA in their call for a ceasefire in Gaza and support the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom”.

The South African MP's remarks come after Lammy, who is likely to become foreign secretary if Labour wins the UK general election held later this year, suggested Nelson Mandela would not have been supportive of the ongoing largely nonviolent student protests in opposition to Israel's war on Gaza.

“There is a difference between peaceful protest of the kind Mandela would have advocated, and violence and rioting," Lammy said while addressing US Republicans in Washington.

But Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela rejected these remarks and said Lammy should echo his grandfather's “commitment to the Palestinian struggle which he affirmed during his visit to Gaza in 1995", and his statement that: “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people."

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Mandela's grandson noted that Lammy himself was of that generation of South African youth “who called for the armed struggle in the face of increasing state brutality in dealing with a peaceful protest against Apartheid”.

Nelson Mandela led the movement against apartheid in South Africa, spending a total of 27 years in prison. He initially advocated armed resistance against the white supremacist system.

Other remarks Lammy made in Washington have drawn criticism.

The shadow foreign secretary questioned why pro-Palestinian protesters were silent about other crises in the world, saying: "I am outraged at what is happening to ordinary folk in Sudan, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Yemen, in Haiti. Why are we really not up in arms about these issues as well?"

He added: “I say gently to those who concentrate singly on a very ancient and terrible, terrible war that is taking place in Gaza: but let us not crowd out a lot of people suffering in our world today and underlining that the US and UK have to stand firm on so many fronts today.”

However, people on social media condemned Lammy for bringing up other issues that he seems to have barely mentioned before, and his characterisation of the conflict as "ancient".

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