The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) appealed to supporters of the liberation of Palestine to maintain their support for the boycott of the Labia Cinema. Due to very little media publicity, there has been an impression that the boycott of the famous cinema has come to end.
In February 2012, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) upheld the complaint by the PSC against the Labia which had cancelled the screening of the film “Roadmap to Apartheid” on the grounds that it was critical of Israel and too analogous to Apartheid South Africa.
The SAHRC recommended that the Labia should proceed to screen the film as it had agreed to do, finding that the Labia had discriminated unlawfully and unconstitutionally against the PSC.
“The Labia has applied to the High Court for the SAHRC’s recommendation to be reviewed and set aside. In this matter the SAHRC is the respondent, and the PSC is not directly a party,” explained Martin Jansen from PSC.
At the same time, the PSC has commenced proceedings before the Equality Court for an Order to the effect that the Labia must screen the film as originally agreed. This application by the PSC seeks to enforce the SAHRC’s ruling, and also to enforce constitutional rights set out in Sections 9 and 16 of the Bill of Rights.
In this matter, the PSC is thus a party. The reason for this is that the Equality Court has jurisdiction to hear cases relating to the right to equality under section 9 of the Constitution and the right to freedom of expression under section 15.
“There are thus two separate and, to a certain extent, overlapping lawsuits. Following a preliminary hearing before the High Court to determine the procedure to be followed, the judge made it clear that an attempt should be made to resolve the matter by mediation. The PSC and its lawyers, and the Labia management and their lawyers, duly met under the auspices of the SAHRC but the mediation failed and the matter must now be heard in court,” said Jansen.
“The PSC wishes to emphasize that we are impatient to get the matter to court and are doing everything possible to move it forward.”
According to pro-Palestine organisation, this case has an importance going far beyond the PSC’s determination to show a film to which the Zionist community objects.
“The PSC is confident of the case against the Labia for we are of the view that the Bill of Rights is designed to address precisely situations such as this. In the past, the courts have blocked attempts to discriminate unlawfully on the grounds of race and gender, and this may well be the first time that the freedom to express political opinions has to be defended. The litigation initiated by the PSC is nothing less than the defence of the South African constitution against the threat to international peace, freedom, human dignity and a non-racist South Africa posed by Zionism.”