Tutu releases letter of appeal to Johannesburg university

27 September 2010

On Wednesday, 29 September 2010, the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Senate will meet at its Soweto campus. One of the issues to be decided is on is whether to terminate its partnership agreement with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU).

On Friday, 24 September 2010, a statement was published by more than 200 of South Africa’s leading academics and writers who support termination of the agreement on the grounds of BGU’s direct collaboration and involvement with the Israeli military and occupation (www.ujpetition.com). This nationwide academic petition has been endorsed by high profiled individuals like Professors Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Mahmood Mamdani, Kader Asmal, Allan Boesak, and Barney Pityana (Vice-Chancellor of University of South Africa).

Yesterday, 26 September 2010, Archbishop Desmond Tutu through an open letter published in the Sunday Times supported the academics and appealed to the University of Johannesburg:

“Struggles for freedom and justice are fraught with huge moral dilemmas…The University of Johannesburg has a chance to do the right thing, at a time when it is unsexy ... [W]e have been watching with delight UJ's transformation from the Rand Afrikaans University, with all its scientific achievements but also ugly ideological commitments. We look forward to an ongoing principled transformation. We don't want UJ to wait until others' victories have been achieved before offering honorary doctorates to the Palestinian Mandelas or Tutus in 20 years' time."

The outcome of UJ Senate’s decision will be announced on Wednesday afternoon and representatives can be contacted on the day to give interviews and comment on the decision.