The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) mourns the demise of Nelson Mandela, the iconic freedom fighter of South Africa, who passed away on 5 December 2013. Mandela is a lofty symbol of not only the people of South Africa, whom he lead in a long, arduous and bloody struggle for freedom against one of the most brutal, blatantly fascist regimes in the world, dyed in rabidly racist ideology of white supremacy, which perfected the system of racial segregation and oppression – apartheid. He is a symbol of all the people of the world struggling for freedom, democracy and human dignity.
Nelson Mandela, born in 1918, joined the African National Congress at the age of 25 in 1942 and was instrumental in the establishment of the ANC Youth League. He played a crucial role in the drafting of the 'Freedom Charter', the guiding force of the freedom and anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. In his lifetime of struggle through the African National Congress, he was assigned various leadership positions, which he served with distinction. He was the Commander-in-Chief of the Umkhonto We Sizwe, the underground military wing of the ANC. He was also a member of the South African Communist Party, where he served in the Central Committee.
Mandela was confined to rigorous, solitary imprisonment for 27 years in the dreaded Palesmoor Highest Security Prison in Robben Island, off the coast of South Africa, where he was denied even basic medical treatment and subjected to penal labour. All of this, could not break his indomitable spirit or make him bow his head before the authoritarian apartheid regime. The apartheid government and its imperialist supporters were forced to release Mandela by the popular pressure exerted by people world over.
After his release from prison, Mandela became the President of ANC and subsequently won the elections of free South Africa and became its first black President. Unlike many leaders who cling to power, Mandela voluntarily retired after serving one term as the President of South Africa. He remained active in public life working for the betterment of the living conditions of the people of Africa till his last breath.
Mandela visited India immediately after his release and was accorded tremendous reception by the people of India, who saw in him a fellow fighter against the unjust world order. Mandela himself was moved by the popular warmth and affection showered upon him, particularly the people of Calcutta, where he was received by Chief Minister Comrade Jyoti Basu and accorded an unprecedented huge public reception. The entire city of Calcutta rose in celebration to witness Mandela.
In Mandela's demise, the world has lost one of its finest sons who fought lifelong for the betterment of the peoples' living conditions. He was a true champion of the people of Third World countries and all those who are oppressed and exploited. In his death, all the people fighting for freedom and against injustice have lost a valuable ally and a comrade-in-arms. His death is a great loss to humanity. At the same time his life and work remain a source of celebration in the onward march of humanity for freedom and liberty.
The CPI (M) expresses its profound grief at the demise of this legendary leader and extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of Mandela, the ANC, the SACP, COSATU and the people of South Africa. The CPI (M) believes that the real homage to Mandela is reiterating our vow to continue in the path of struggle for a world free from injustice, discrimination and inequality.