Tireless Peace Worker in South Africa: Bishop Rubin Phillip

Peace Award Winner 2009, Categorie "Public Engagement"

Rubin Phillip was an outspoken opponent of apartheid – today, he is an Anglican bishop from KwaZulu-Natal and is still engaged in the struggle for justice. His voice is heard in this rather young democracy and he makes best use of it: for example, by advocating education on HIV/AIDS and supporting refugees. He also successfully campaigned against and prevented the shipment and delivery of weapons to Zimbabwe.

Commitment to peace and justice has always been an essential part of Rubin Phillip's life. The Anglican bishop from the South African coastal province KwaZulu-Natal joined the Black Consciousness Movement at a young age - a movement which opposed the racist ideology of apartheid with a new black self-esteem. Due to his leading role in the resistance movement against racial segregation, he was put under house arrest in 1973 for three years.

Till today, Rubin Phillip does not mince his words. After the end of apartheid he did not retreat into privacy. Instead, he pinpoints sociopolitical and economical issues of this young democracy right away. Heading a group of church-leaders from KwaZulu-Natal, he mediated between political opponents. In this manner, he played an active role in curbing violence in his country. His activities combating the dramatic spread of HIV/AIDS have also been outstanding: he not only asked priests of his diocese to undergo an HIV-test, but also set a good example by getting himself tested first.

Along with other church-leaders, the 61-year old bishop is one of the founders of Solidarity Peace Trust advocating human rights, freedom and democracy in Southern Africa. He supports those who are not yet benefitting from democracy in South Africa: displaced persons, victims of persecution, detainees. Phillip visits them in prisons and hospitals and offers legal advice in court cases. In April 2008, when a wave of xenophobic violence unleashed in South Africa, Phillip campaigned for the protection of refugees. Due to his strong efforts, these refugees received shelter and support from South African churches.

The refugees mainly came from the neighbouring country Zimbabwe, where the population has been suffering for years under the oppression of dictator Robert Mugabe. Even here Rubin Phillip has been actively involved in peace work. In April 2008, a Chinese ship containing weapons for Zimbabwe was not permitted to arrive in Durban and had to return immediately: Together with another peace activist, Phillip successfully managed to get a court order and prevent this delivery of weapons. Furthermore, through the Solidarity Peace Trust, Phillip and his colleagues try to support and mobilize people in remote areas of Zimbabwe in order to pressurize their political leaders.




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