‘I didn’t want to embarrass myself’ – SA’s F.W de Klerk withdraws from racism seminar

Former South African President FW de Klerk addresses a news conference in Cape Town, July 26, 2007. De Klerk denied that he had ever condoned apartheid era murders or other gross violations of human rights, following the announcement that his former cabinet minister Adriaan Vlok would be prosecuted for a 1989 attempt on the life of a prominent anti-Apartheid activist. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA) - RTR1SA08

South Africa’s last apartheid President, F.W de Klerk, has withdrawn from a scheduled seminar in the U.S about minority rights because he did not want to embarrass himself or his host in the current racial climate, according to his foundation.

De Klerk, who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela was scheduled to speak on July 1 at an American Bar Association (ABA) virtual event on issues such as minority rights, racism, and the rule of law, Reuters reported.

The announcement, however, was met with criticisms from South Africa’s opposition parties who called on the American Bar Association to cancel his speech given his role in the apartheid-era security apparatus.

“The allegation that De Klerk was involved in gross violations of human rights is baseless,” the F.W De Klerk foundation said in a statement.

“However, it appears unacceptable in the current super-heated racial climate that any leader from South Africa’s troubled past should be permitted to retain the slightest vestige of honour,” it said.

After the criticisms, ABA confirmed De Klerk would no longer speak at the event.

“At a time like this where the whole world is crying out for recognition and demanding that value be placed on our lives, on Black lives, we think that ABA erred in inviting someone like De Klerk,” said Lukhanyo Calata, the son of Fort Calata, who was killed along with three other anti-apartheid activists by South African police in 1985 in an incident known as “The Cradock Four”.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: June 22, 2020


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