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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

AHRC salutes a great man, embraces his Legacy

| A statement issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission

(December 6, 2013, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Asian Human Rights Commission joins all people across the world to salute Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela of South Africa, who passed away at the age of 95 yesterday.

In the person of Nelson Mandela the world can proudly celebrate a towering personality, whose life has universal relevance for all times to come. His life and struggles have always focused on the greatest of ideals that any human being could aspire to: equality, freedom, dignity, truth, and – above all – love for all. And all of these qualities are centered in the greatest of the ideals of human rights.

In his life achievements he has justly acquired the honor of being a role model for every child born on this earth, irrespective of race, gender, colour, ethnicity or any other factor.

Nelson Mandela lived in extremely troubled times. Born a black, in apartheid South Africa, he knew very well the bitterness of being discriminated against. This profound knowledge of 'the humanity of the oppressed creature' guided him to become a relentless and uncompromising freedom fighter who remained loyal and steadfast to his fellow sufferers and, at the same time, made him a universal figure. Equipped with this knowledge, born from suffering, he takes his place amongst the other greats of this world, such as Frederick Douglass of the United States and Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar of India. Together with them, Mandela will remain an inspiration for all oppressed peoples struggling for their freedom and will retain a dignified place in the fabric of their societies.

Nelson Mandela gives meaning to the words 'ideal political prisoner'. The twenty-seven years of his imprisonment have now reached a state of universality, gifting all who live under oppressive political regimes a reminder of the value of making sacrifices to end their oppression, to achieve freedom.

Nelson Mandela is also an icon of faithfulness and truth. This was aptly demonstrated when he – even after achieving the status of a great and influential global political leader – was able to humbly admit to his son's death due to HIV/Aids, and continued work towards the prevention of Aids globally.

All the issues on which Mandela fought hard need further fight and struggle, for which his life will ever remain an inspiration. The defeat of apartheid has not turned South Africa into a paradise. The country is caught in global contradictions of harsh economic and political consequence. The tyranny of global economic bondage is a threat that humanity as a whole – white black, and brown, male and female – must face. Nelson Mandela was profoundly aware of this global phenomenon, and to his admirers in the more developed countries his message would be to face this global challenge which generates misery for the greater part of humanity.

Nelson Mandela would certainly say that – in order to bear the fruits of the struggles that he shared with freedom loving people across the earth – major changes need to be ushered in for a more just and a fair distribution of resources in the world. Facing this mammoth challenge is the only way forward, to continue Nelson Mandela's legacy and walk the path he would wish for his fellow beings.

Nelson Mandela, the uncompromising freedom fighter, was also a man capable of forgiving and reconciling with his opponents. The manner in which the victory over apartheid was used to unify a country and bring together people of all walks of life is another of his great legacies. In the art of reconciliation, the lessons he has left for us will remain an inspiration for all humanity, for all times.

We salute a great man, and we embrace his great legacy.

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