south_africa_2012From February 1-10, 2012 Badil and Zochrot undertook an intensive study visit to Cape Town, South Africa. The visit was carried out as part of a broader joint project of examining the practicalities of the implementation of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and internally displaced. The participants’ program in Cape Town began with a service held by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the Cape Town Cathedral in which the Archbishop shared his thoughts on Zionism and racism from the perspective of post-Apartheid South Africa. The visit ended with a two-day workshop in which participants developed ideas on a vision for the return of displaced Palestinians.

The seventeen participants from the two organizations visited and heard from victims, experts and activists with experience on forced removal during the decades of Apartheid in South Africa. These included residents of Cape Town’s District Six and the townships of Guguletu and Langa who shared their experiences of forced removal and return. The group also heard from the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies in the University of the Western Cape and senior Judge Siraj Desai on South African’s successes and failures in attempting restitution and redistribution of land and housing for Blacks who had been forcibly displaced.
In addition to investigating issues surrounding land and return, the group visited and heard from experts and activists involved in other aspects of post-Apartheid reparations and reconciliation. These included such issues as poverty, housing, commemoration, healing, transitional justice, solidarity with Palestine, and the upsurge of xenophobia against African migrant workers in past years. These issues were discussed in visits and meetings with the Direct Action Center for Peace and Memory, People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP), Anti-Eviction Campaign, District Six Museum, Robben Island Museum, Palestine Museum, Palestine Solidarity Group, Institute for Healing and Memories, and the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. 
All of these experiences helped participants to develop their own views on the practicalities, obstacles and other aspects of Palestinian return. At the end of the visit, the participants brought these views together in an intensive two-day workshop in which they connected what they had seen and heard in Cape Town with their ideas on the implementation of return, restitution and compensation for Palestinian refugees and internally displaced. At the close of the workshop, the organizations and participants expressed special thanks to Rev. Edwin Arrison, Aslam Levy, Professor Heidi Grunebaum and the staff of St. Paul’s Guest House for their generosity and support in making the trip as fruitful as it could be, as well as special thanks to HEKS-EPER for making the trip possible.
In the coming weeks, Badil and Zochrot will publish and disseminate a detailed description of the visit as well as a report on the workshop which they hope can be used as a small contribution to developing a program for refugee reparation (return, restitution, compensation and rehabilitation).

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