U.S. House: End terrorist label for Mandela
Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press
8 May 2008
The House, saying it was correcting a long-standing injustice, voted Thursday to drop apartheid-era travel restrictions and terrorist designations given Nelson Mandela and other African National Congress people who fought white minority rule.
Despite recognizing two decades ago that America's place was on the side of those oppressed by apartheid, Congress has never resolved the inconsistency in ourImmigration code that treats many of those who actively opposed apartheid in South Africa as terrorists and criminals," said Rep. Howard Berman, a California Democrat who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The House approved by voice vote legislation to give the State Department and Homeland Security Department wide latitude to disregard the ANC's anti-apartheid activities when determining whether to allow members and former members into the United States. The bill also adds the ANC to a list of groups that should not be considered terrorist organizations.
"Despite his legacy as a hero of the anti-apartheid movement, despite the fact that he is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient ... despite his election as president, we still require Nelson Mandela to apply for a visa waiver to enter into the United States just for a visit. This is just plain wrong," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
The African National Congress is the ruling party in the democratic, post-apartheid South Africa, but was considered a terrorist organization by the pre-apartheid white minority government.
"The ANC is not a terrorist organization now," said Rep. Lamar Smith, R- Texas.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked Congress last month to pass the legislation.
She called it "embarrassing" that she still has to waive travel restrictions when Mandela and other ANC leaders visit the United States.
Other ANC members have been refused entry into the United States. For example, Barbara Masekela, the former South African ambassador to the United States, was denied a visa to visit a dying cousin in the United States in 2007, lawmakers said.
A similar bill is moving through the Senate.
The idea that Mandela would "be on our government's terror watch list is deplorable," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "No bureaucratic snafu can excuse this international embarrassment, and we need to fix this policy now."
U.S. has Mandela on terrorist list
Mimi Hall, USA TODAY
30 April 2007
Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993
Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation "embarrassing," and some members of Congress vow to fix it.
The requirement applies to former South African leader Mandela and other members of South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC), the once-banned anti-Apartheid organization. In the 1970s and '80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the country's ruling white minority. Other countries, including the United States, followed suit.
Because of this, Rice told a Senate committee recently, her department has to issue waivers for ANC members to travel to the USA.
"This is a country with which we now have excellent relations, South Africa, but it's frankly a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader Nelson Mandela," Rice said.
Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chairman of the House International Relations Committee, is pushing a bill that would remove current and former ANC leaders from the watch lists. Supporters hope to get it passed before Mandela's 90th birthday July 18.
"What an indignity," Berman said. "The ANC set an important example: It successfully made the change from armed struggle to peace. We should celebrate the transformation."
In 1990, Mandela was freed after 27 years in prison for crimes committed during the struggle against Apartheid, a repressive regime that subjugated black South Africans. In 1994, he was elected South Africa's first black president.
Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., called ANC members' inclusion on watch lists a "bureaucratic snafu" and pledged to fix the problem.
Members of other groups deemed a terrorist threat, such as Hamas, also are on the watch lists.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says "common sense" suggests Mandela should be removed. He says the issue "raises a troubling and difficult debate about what groups are considered terrorists and which are not."
When ANC members apply for visas to the USA, they are flagged for questioning and need a waiver to be allowed in the country. In 2002, former ANC chairman Tokyo Sexwale was denied a visa. In 2007, Barbara Masekela, South Africa's ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2006, was denied a visa to visit her ailing cousin and didn't get a waiver until after the cousin had died, Berman's legislation says.
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