Statue of Nelson Mandela inaugurated in Ramallah

PNN/Ramallah

Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, inaugurated a statue of South African leader Nelson Mandela on Tuesday afternoon in the central area of Ramallah.

The square where the statue was installed in the al-Tira neighborhood will officially be renamed Mandela Square.

According to WAFA news, Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau and the head of the South African mission to Palestine, Ashraf Suleiman, attended the ceremony.

“The statue represents the spiritual father of freedom in our country, Nelson Mandela,” Tau said, adding that he hoped that the Palestinian people would obtain their freedom and independence, just as the people of South Africa were freed from apartheid and racism.

Ramallah Mayor Mousa Hadid claimed during the ceremony that the statue was “the first statue South Africa built outside its borders.”

Hadid added that the statue was also a reflection of the South African government’s appreciation of the Palestinian people and their lengthy struggle for freedom and independence.

Furthermore, he said that the Israeli authorities had held the statue, releasing it only days before the inauguration.

“The Israeli occupation detained the statue to make sure it doesn’t possess any of Mandela’s pride and love of freedom,” he said.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah congratulated the people of South Africa during the event hosted by South Africa’s representative to Palestine.

“Today, we honor Nelson Mandela and share the joy of our sisters and brothers in South Africa. Your victory against oppression and persecution is inspiring; we draw on your perseverance and steadfastness,” Hamdallah said, as the statue of Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected South African president, was unveiled in Ramallah.

Freedom Day is observed annually in South Africa to celebrate freedom and democracy and to commemorate the first post-apartheid elections held on April 27, 1994.

The elections were the first non-racial national elections where everyone of voting age from any race group was allowed to vote.

Jamal Dajani, Director of Strategic Communications and Media at the Office of the Palestinian Prime Minister, said: “It is appalling that at a time when the entire world celebrates the end of Apartheid in South Africa, Palestinians still suffer from similar oppressive measures under a brutal Israeli occupation,”

“Just as in South Africa, Israel has institutionalized a system designed to suppress an entire population, based on ethnicity,” Dajani added.

Mandela is a symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation for many Palestinians.

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” Mandela famously said in a speech for International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, in Pretoria in 1997.

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