Friday, July 9, 2010

From Desmond Tutu and "The Elders" on Gaza, Poverty, World Cup & More

Dear friends,

It is with great pride that I have been watching a marvellous World Cup - what a fantastic time it is for Africa! As my dear friend Graça Machel says, it is really showing “how good we are, and how good we can be.”

Just before the tournament started we spoke to the BBC about the challenges Africa faces, and how we can also use our tremendous potential to overcome them. Watch the interview here. (Look out for Kofi Annan’s rather impressive soccer skills and my snazzy purple boots!)= The Elders on what the 2010 World Cup means for Africa

Optimism about Africa’s future was also strong at the recent Global Forum in Cape Town. Nothing inspires us oldies more than young people and Mary Robinson, Graça Machel and I were lucky to be joined by three wonderful students from across the continent. They discussed their vision for Africa with such passion.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is a personal hero of mine and an international symbol of freedom and democracy. She has now spent fifteen of the past twenty years in detention. Last month my fellow Elders and I marked her 65th birthday, and called for international action to help the people of Burma.

At our recent meeting in Johannesburg we placed an empty chair beside us, draped in Burmese silk, as we do in all our meetings. It serves as a powerful reminder of the continued suffering of Daw Suu Kyi and over two thousand other political prisoners in Burma.

Every Human Has Rights Campaign

Fighting poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals has to happen much faster. This year, as world leaders prepare for a special MDG summit in September, we want to remind them that poverty is a question of human rights.

Your messages on Gaza

The Elders during their Middle East visit, August 2009

We received many messages in response to our statement about Israel’s attack on the Gaza aid flotilla last month. While most were supportive, some of you were disappointed that we did not also criticise Palestinian attacks on Israel.

The statement was issued in response to a specific event and we stand by our comments, however I would like to assure you that we are concerned for all who are caught up in this long and terrible conflict.

While we are critical of Israeli actions at times, we always defend its right to exist and its right to defend itself. We have consistently spoken out against Palestinian attacks on Israel and its citizens. Our primary concern is to ensure that our leaders don’t forget the impact of the Middle East conflict on ordinary people – both Israelis and Palestinians.

I encourage you to visit our website, where we have tried to bring together the viewpoints of both Israelis and Palestinians who are working to achieve a more peaceful and secure future.

God bless you,

PS See more from The Elders here

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