Citing the armed struggle against apartheid in South Africa, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said terrorism could be “justifiable” under certain circumstances, the remarks which swiftly drew ire of Conservatives who accused him of giving succour to Taliban.
Miliband was speaking on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Great Lives´ programme in which he chose to pay tributes to the South African anti-apartheid activist Joe Slovo - a friend of his father, the academic Ralph Miliband.
The military wing of the African National Congress (ANC) had indulged in terror attacks during its campaign against apartheid, including the Church Street bombing in Pretoria in 1983 in which 19 people were killed and 200 wounded. Many of the victims were civilians.
Asked whether there were any circumstances in which terrorism was justified, Miliband said: “Yes, there are circumstances in which it is justifiable, and yes, there are circumstances in which it is effective.”
“The importance for me is that the South African example proved something remarkable: the apartheid regime looked like a regime that would last forever, and it was blown down.
“It is hard to argue that, on its own, a political struggle would have delivered. The striking at the heart of a regime’s claim on a monopoly of power, which the ANC’s armed wing represented, was very significant,” he said.