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The Boston Globe

Opinion

derrick z. jackson

Mine killings echo old South Africa

In the euphoria of hosting the 2010 World Cup, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu said the former apartheid South Africa morphed from the “ugly, ugly worm” into a “beautiful, beautiful butterfly.” This month that beautiful butterfly disappeared into a worm hole, sucked right back to the days of apartheid.

In the worst state suppression of labor unrest in the 18 years of the “free” South Africa, police shot dead 34 striking workers and wounded 78 others at the Lonmin platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg. This week, 150 miners complained of being beaten while in police custody. When such things happened in the 1980s under white apartheid rule, they stirred enough outrage in America to force even President Reagan to end his support of the apartheid regime and sign into law economic sanctions, including the famous import ban on gold Krugerrand coins.

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