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Amy Biehl Memorial

Youth must have courage to fight injustice

South Africans must ask themselves, “What am I prepared to commit to make this country a better place for all of us?”. This was Minister in the Presidency and head of the National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel’s message to the crowd which attended the Annual Amy Biehl Memorial Lecture and Youth Spirit Awards held at the University of the Western Cape on Monday, 27 August 2013.

Commemorating 20 years since Amy Biehl –an American student who worked at UWC’s Community Law Centre – was brutally murdered in Gugulethu, Manuel said the spirit of service and sacrifice which Biehl had exhibited must serve as an inspiration to the young people in South Africa today.

“The work Amy did at the Community Law Centre speaks to what youth spirit is about. Young people must be inspired by the work Amy did,” said Manuel.

Manuel said that in celebrating Amy’s life and spirit, young people must re-engage with societal issues and devote time to work towards the full implementation of the Constitution so that it manifests in society in a practical fashion.

“We have made some progress in the last 20 years of our democracy. We can and must hold the state responsible. When and why did we stop caring?” Manuel continued.

Amy’s mother, Linda Biehl, told the crowd that her family has deep appreciation for efforts in South Africa aimed at keeping Amy’s legacy alive. Amy Biehl was an American scholar who had come to UWC to advance her studies. She did a lot of work with the Community Law Centre of the University, and in 1993, she met her brutal death at the hands of those who thought her to be a spy for the Nationalist government.

“My family is deeply thankful to the South African government and South African people in general for their part in ensuring that Amy’s memory never diminishes from our hearts,” said Linda Biehl.

Echoing Manuel’s words, Biehl told the crowd that everywhere in the world, young people have the obligation to correct the wrongs they perceive so as to strengthen democracy and encourage inclusive community building endeavours.

The Amy Biehl Foundation CEO, Kevin Chaplin, also urged young people to show courage in the face of injustices and tribulations, saying, “With courage you will go a long way”.