In memory of George Bizos

It is with great sadness that DiEM25 informs our movement of the passing of prominent Anti-Apartheid Human Rights Lawyer and DiEM25 Advisory Panel member George Bizos.

George Bizos passed away at 92 on Wednesday, September 9. He was a valued member of our movement since 2016 and will be missed.

George Bizos was one of the major figures in the protests against apartheid, particularly during the Rivonia Trial in which he was sentenced to life imprisonment along with other activists in 1964 on charges of seeking to overthrow the apartheid government. His long and successful legal career includes many high profile cases, including the defence of anti-apartheid revolutionary and first post-apartheid president of South Africa Nelson Mandela. He became an Advisory Panel member for DiEM25 in 2018.

Here’s a personal message from Yanis Varoufakis on George Bizos’ passing:

“Two years ago, George Bizos and his family hosted Danae and I at their home in Johannesburg.

We talked about Mandela, whose lawyer he was since the early sixties — in particular the arguments he used in court to remove the threat of the death penalty, the way Bizos and his family took care of Mandela’s family during the long prison years, the honour that Mandela bestowed upon Bizos when, as President, he asked Bizos to draft South Africa’s remarkable new Constitution.

We also talked about how Bizos, when he was only 10 years old, followed his father who had the audacity to help New Zealand soldiers escape in a boat (that Bizos senior commandeered) from Nazi troops at their south Peloponnese village, how the 11 New Zealand soldiers and the 2 Bizoses were adrift in the Aegean before being picked up by a British destroyer, how they ended up in South Africa, his first impression when he came off the ship in Durban “I saw the way the blacks were being treated and I knew immediately that I wanted to help them liberate themselves from white rule”, how he was forced to learn Afrikaan while studying English on his own at a time he was forced to work all hours in a textile shop as child labourer,  how a benevolent old lady took pity on him and paid for him to go to a decent school, how he managed to sneak into Law School.

Coming to more recent times, how he admired DiEM25’s work to create a radical European internationalism, and why this made him accept gladly our invitation to join the Advisory Panel (AP).” 

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

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