By Jamshed Baruah

GENEVA (IDN) - The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Consultative Group has named Vitit Muntarbhorn, a Thai law professor who has held prior UN rights posts, as the world body’s first independent expert to monitor violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Group comprises five diplomats. One of them, Amr Ramadan, Egypt’s ambassador to the Council, has refused to participate in the selection process. He detailed his reasons to the council president in a letter obtained by UN Watch, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva.

- Photo: 2021

Unionists Grieve the Demise of South African Labour Leader

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) – The family of comrade David Kolekile Sipunzi has confirmed the passing of the leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). The announcement was made by William Mabapa, deputy general secretary of the black workers union.

Mabapa called Sipunzi a unionist dedicated to fighting for the rights of employees.

“He was a trade unionist who did not cease to fight for the rights of the NUM members. His global contribution as one of the vice presidents of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and his efforts in labour rights will not easily be forgotten.”

NUM was founded in 1982 as a black mine workers union by Cyril Ramaphosa and grew rapidly, winning bargaining recognition from the Chamber of Mines in 1983. It was the first union to adopt the Freedom Charter and also adopted Comrade Nelson Mandela as its honorary lifetime President.

The union came to world attention in 2012 as a result of the killing of 34 striking miners by the South African Police Service. Called the Marikana massacre, it was the most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since 1976.

The Marikana strike was followed by similar strikes at other mines across South Africa, events which collectively made 2012 the most protest-filled year in the country since the end of apartheid.

Tribute was also paid by the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and other labor groups.

Sipunzi joined NUM while working at the Harmony Gold mining operation where he became a NUM shaft steward and rose through the ranks of the militant labour group. At the NUM 15th national congress, he was elected general secretary and was reaffirmed by the 16th national congress until his death.

Sipunzi also contributed immensely in the international workers and working class struggles and served as one of the vice presidents of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), the class-oriented world federation, Nehawu said.

“He dedicated his entire life to fighting against employers who undermine workers’ rights and in ensuring a safe working environment and aggressively fought against employers prioritizing dividends over the health and safety of mineworkers,” they said.

“He will forever be remembered for his selflessness and constant desire to champion workers struggles. His efforts to liberate mineworkers from exploitative mine bosses should inspire the unity of all mine workers to continue to the struggle against slave wages.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 04 January 2021]

Photo: NUM general secretary David Sipunzi. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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