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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

RD/963
6 September 2001

CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM CONTINUES TO HEAR CONCERNS

OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS


DURBAN, 6 September -- This afternoon, the Conference heard from 32 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) during the general debate of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, who covered a number of national concerns as well as problems in more general areas such as health care and social work. As the Conference moved closer to the adoption of its Declaration and Programme of Action, the NGO Forum caucuses detailed their wishes and objections.

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Statements

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PALESTINIAN CAUCUS: Palestinians have been seeking an opportunity to have their daily sufferings from racism discussed here. Instead, attempts have been made to delete references to the Palestinian conflict in the outcome documents or to water them down. Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian rights are not perpetrated in a vacuum. It is in the interest of the international community to tackle Israel’s violation for reasons of peace and security. As in the case of apartheid, Israel’s policies are destabilizing the entire region and are a threat to world peace. Our common humanity demands that that racism and apartheid system, a crime against humanity, be combated. Naming Israel and its racist practices is not being anti-Jewish. Palestinians within the occupied territories have suffered from a colonial military occupation. We condemn the application of discriminatory laws of return which deny the right of return and compensatory measures to Palestinian refugees. Israel’s crimes have included acts of genocide, war crimes, methods of ethnic cleansing and the crime of apartheid. The victims of racism cannot be blamed for success or failure of the Conference by seeking to have their claims addressed. That responsibility lies with the governments. Failure of the Conference will deny the voice of the victims. We ask delegates not to allow certain governments to derail the proceedings.

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LABOR CAUCUS: We are working men and women of all colours, ethnic origins, sexual orientations and levels of ability. We believe the Conference provides an unprecedented opportunity for the heads of State and government to address the past evils of racism. We also believe that anti-Semitism is unacceptable, regardless of wherever it rears its ugly head. We also support the struggle of the Palestinian people. We hope the Conference can contribute to a lasting peace in the Middle East. As an organization, we must also do our part. We must ensure that our members do not practice or engage in racism or discriminatory behaviour. We will ensure that our members work in environments free of discrimination and intolerance, and that employer organizations live up to their national and international commitments.
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