US removes Nelson Mandela from terror list

image Nelson Mandela Just in time for his 90th birthday this month the USA has removed former South African President and Nobel Peace Price laureate Nelson Mandela from the so called “US terrorists watch list”. After the bill had been approved by the US Senate, G.W Bush has now signed it and by that bringing an end to at least one of the most visible quarrels beleaguering this “list” since a long time.

“…Today the United States moved closer at last to removing the great shame of dishonoring this great leader by including him on our government’s terror watch list…” said Senator John Kerry.

Previously Nelson Mandela like other former ANC freedom fighters required a special permit to travel to the UN that has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. The issue of not removing a public figure and declared pacifist like Nelson Mandela from that list – even almost 15 years after the apartheid regime in South Africa was defeated – has become an issue and source of concern to lawmakers and democracy supporters around the world.

Besides Mr. Mandela’s removal from that list the fact that he has been kept on it for such a long time, together with reports of 6 year old children, dead people or plain general names being included and most importantly the way such a list has been used within the US and some of its “befriended” countries clearly demonstrates that the main target of this list might not be the “hunt for terrorists” whatever this general term would mean.

While we strongly support that countries have a right to defend themselves against internal or external threats and take actions against their enemies within the boundaries of law and democracy, most often such kind of lists are solely used to execute suppressive powers and as a way to hunt dissidents, political opposition or to just plainly abuse power.

One example of such use of black lists in recent US history that older people might still remember is Sen. J.R. McCarthy’s witch hunts in the 1950s throughout American society best known for banning many well known artist, actors or political activists from performing or carrying out their professions. Some of them like worldwide renown painters or graphical artists are still banned to travel to the US and selling their work in the US is still forbidden as well. If that reminds you of darkest cold war antics – when for example the books from Huxley or Orwell were black listed in the Soviet Union countries – you might not be far away from the truth. And we all know from history that censuring and discrediting people has rarely been fruitful – particularly with the cause officially used to annul merely all civic and human rights within these raids.

Most recent addition to the ever-growing number of such lists around the world include Italy’s new list of fingerprinting all Romanies and Sinti population something not seen since Mussolini’s / Hitlers brutal reigns in Europe. And they are even using the same official argument as a “reason” for that list – like the Nazis did in Germany against the Jews – to protect this ethnic minority group against their enemies.

The US should in the next months show a true change in its approach to human and democratic rights of Americans and foreigners, otherwise the removal of Nelson Mandela from their “terrorist watch list” can only be considered as a political stunt or something to turn attention away from other pressing issues of these challenging times.

Mr. Mandela himself – most likely by his age alone – will not be in a position anymore that such a late move will remedy any of the injustices endured in the past. But this gesture could serve as a first step – just a very small one – but nevertheless a first move back towards a democratic society.

More information:
Wikipedia on Nelson Mandela
Article by ABC Australia on the topic

Image: Public domain via Wikipedia

…Even the North Korean Government managed to get itself dropped from the list before Mr Mandela…

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