Desmond Tutu, Fierce Opponent of South African and Israeli Apartheid, Dies at 90

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 90, died Sunday in Cape Town, South Africa. He left behind a legacy of fighting oppressed people around the world. According to reports, it was cancer.

Advocates for human right, economic justice and nonviolence honored Tutu who was a leader of the anti-apartheid movement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created afterward.

The Elders, an independent group made up of global leaders committed to justice and good governance, are known as the Elders. said his “commitment to peace, love, and the fundamental equality of all human beings will endure to inspire future generations.”

“The Elders would not be who they are today without his passion, commitment, and keen moral compass,” said Mary Robinson, former Irish president and chair of The Elders. “He inspired me to be a ‘prisoner of hope,’ in his inimitable phrase. [Tutu]He was well-respected for his commitment to justice, equality, freedom, and was admired all over the globe. Today we mourn his death but affirm our determination to keep his beliefs alive.”

Tutu served as The Elders’ first chair from 2007 until 2013, after becoming internationally recognized for his work leading Black South Africans in the fight against the apartheid system, which he condemned as “evil” while urging nonviolent methods of protest.

He preached that apartheid threatened the dignity and humanity of both Black and white South Africans and called on international leaders to impose sanctions on the country’s government in protest of the apartheid system, a demand which led South African officials to revokeHis passport was twice renewed.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Tutu famously saidDuring the fight against apartheid. “If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

For his 1984 work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. After 1994’s fall of apartheid, Tutu was elected chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This commission sought to record the violence and injustices committed by the government. The archbishop sought to provide “restorative justice,” offering compensation to survivors and amnesty to perpetrators who cooperated with the inquiry.

Tutu was a strong critic of economic and racial inequalities that continued in South Africa after the formal end to apartheid. accusing President Thabo Mbeki in 2004 of serving a small number of elites while “too many, of our people live in grueling, demeaning, dehumanizing poverty.”

“Can you explain how a Black person wakes up in a squalid ghetto today, almost 10 years after freedom?” Tutu said2003. “Then he goes to work in town, which is still largely White, in palatial homes. And at the end of the day, he goes back home to squalor?”

Tutu was a vocal opponent of militarism, imperialism, and other forms of oppression in his home country. callingFormer President George W. Bush and Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to be tried at the International Criminal Court for their invasion and occupation in Iraq.

Tutu was also a defender of Palestinians’ rights and a critic of Israel’s violent policies targeting millions of people in Gaza and the West Bank, comparing their treatment to the apartheid system.

2014 saw attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces that resulted in the death of countless people. more than 2,100 Palestinians — the vast majority of whom were civilians — Tutu wroteAn exclusive article in an Israeli newspaper HaaretzCalling for a global boycott against Israel

He called on Israelis “to actively disassociate themselves and their profession from the design and construction of infrastructure related to perpetuating injustice, including the separation barrier, the security terminals and checkpoints, and the settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.”

“Those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of ‘normalcy’ in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice,” Tutu wrote. “They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo. Those who contribute to Israel’s temporary isolation are saying that Israelis and Palestinians are equally entitled to dignity and peace.”

Tutu also called for a global divestment of the fossil fuel industry in the same year. This was modeled after the international sanctions he supported against South Africa which helped to end apartheid.

“We liveIn a world dominated by greed,” Tutu wrote in The Guardian. “We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth. It is evident [the companies] are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money.”

“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change,” he added. “We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams, and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel energy companies… We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil-fuel industry.”

Tutu was also honored for his worldwide fight for LGBTQ+ rights. callsHis goal is to end AIDS denialism in South Africa and, more recently, his effortsTo combat misinformation regarding Covid-19 vaccines.

“Bishop Tutu meant so much to so many,” said Rev. Dr. William Barber II, co-chair of the anti-poverty Poor People’s Campaign in the U.S. “Thank God for his life. Let we who believe in freedom and justice be his legacy always.”