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The Landless People's Movement (LPM) condemns the violent arrest of and apartheid-like detention of the 52 Anti Privatization Forum (APF) activists. The APF, like the LPM and many other social movements, has emerged as a legitimate response to the anti-poor policies of the South African government. The right to assembly and demonstration are fundamental rights enshrined in the South African constitution. The LPM wants to remind the government that these rights were not granted as a favour from the politicians who run this country, but rights which we, as ordinary people of South Africa struggled for.

The arrest of the APF activists is an affront to the memory and sacrifices of the people who died in Sharpeville so that we may be able to exercise our fundamental rights without fear of being shot at or detained. The fact that the South African government can arrest and refuse bail to activists for social justice on Human Rights Day and on the official opening of the Constitutional Court's new building is a sad indication that the poor cannot expect justice in South Africa. The South African police, acting on the instructions of decision-makers in government, have declared war on the poor. The LPM notes that in recent weeks, the secret agents of government have intensified their surveillance of the leaders of the LPM. The arrest of the APF leaders and members yesterday is, therefore, not an isolated incident, but a part of the wider campaign of repression and disinformation being waged by the government to try and silence the critical voices of the poor and landless.

Ten years of democracy for the poor has meant ten years of more poverty, rubber bullets, evictions, forced removals and arrests. The LPM vows to continue its struggle for land and true freedom alongside its allies such as the APF. We demand that the APF 52 be released immediately!

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