On 3 October 2022, during the General Debate under Item 8 of the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council (12 September – 7 October 2022), the organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo denounced the killings of human rights defenders in South Africa, particularly those working to defend land, housing and environmental rights.
Since 2009, twenty-four leaders of the democratic grassroots Abahlali baseMjondolo movement have been killed in South Africa. The movement of over 115,000 members across South Africa was formed in 2005 to struggle for a just and equal society based on respect and dignity for all people. Most of the members live in appalling conditions in shacks. The movement organises for access to land and decent housing, to build women’s power from below, and against xenophobia – objectives that strongly align with key commitments set out in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. During HRC51 General Debate Item 8, ISHR, Abahlali baseMjondolo delivered a joint statement denouncing the killings of human rights defenders in South Africa, particularly those working to defend land, housing and environmental rights, as well as corruption activists.
Our coalition strongly condemns the continued killing of AbM members and activists and endorsed this call together with 47 organisations from around the world
Speaking on behalf of the movement, Mr Mqapheli Bonono, the Deputy President of Abahlali said “Since our movement was formed we have faced severe repression including slander, assault, arrest, violent and unlawful evictions, false imprisonment, torture and killings. The situation has been particularly dire in the city of Durban”.
The call against the persecution and assassination of Abahlali baseMjondolo members and land defenders in South Africa highlighted to
- The United Nations Human Rights Council to take a stand against the ongoing murder of the Human Rights Defenders,
- South Africa to urgently establish a national commission of inquiry into these murders to ensure justice for all victims of political killings in South Africa.
We call for an immediate halt to ongoing acts of violence and intimidation toward the community of eKhenana and all informal settlements, and for the broad protection of all land rights defenders in South Africa, in line with the UN General Assembly Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
South Africa is seeking election to the Human Rights Council. It must fulfil its obligations as enshrined in the Constitution and under international conventions to the highest standards.