World News

World Leaders Remember Nelson Mandela

World leaders, past and present, are remembering anti-apartheid leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

At the White House, a solemn President Barack Obama called Mr. Mandela an influential, courageous, and profoundly good human being.

"I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue, or a policy, or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I would study his words and his writings. The day he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears."

Mr. Obama said flags at the White House and other public buildings will fly at half staff through Monday, in a rare gesture toward a foreign leader.

F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid leader, said Mr. Mandela's greatest legacy is his emphasis on reconciliation. De Klerk won a Nobel Peace Prize alongside Mr. Mandela, whom he freed from prison in 1990. He said their relationship was "often stormy," but that they were "always able to come together at critical moments."

Many African leaders, who were in Paris for a security summit Friday, vowed to live up to the example Mr. Mandela set.

South African Archbishop and anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu called his friend a "precious diamond" who emerged from prison "virtually flawless." Tutu said instead of "calling for his pound of flesh, he proclaimed the message of forgiveness and reconciliation."

Ex-U.N. chief Kofi Annan, who along with Tutu and Mr. Mandela formed a group of statesmen known as The Elders, said South Africa was fortunate to have a leader that inspired forgiveness so that the country "did not go up in flames."

Fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi paid tribute to Mr. Mandela as a "great human being who raised the standard of humanity."

"He made us all understand that nobody should be penalized for the color of his skin, for the circumstances into which he is born. He also made us understand that we can change the world. We can change the world by changing attitudes, by changing perceptions."

The Dalai Lama, another Nobel Peace laureate, said he will "personally miss a dear friend" he had hoped to meet again. He said that although Mr. Mandela has physically departed, his "spirit will go on"

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Signh called Mr. Mandela "a giant among men," and compared him to India's own icon of freedom and reconciliation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on people to be inspired by Mr. Mandela to keep working for a better and more just world.

"Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us - if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity. His moral force was decisive in dismantling the system of apartheid."

Former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush also praised Mr. Mandela as a champion of freedom, human dignity, and equality.

Another ex-U.S. president, George H. W. Bush, called Mr. Mandela, "a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country."

British Prime Minister David Cameron emerged from 10 Downing Street to call Mr. Mandela a true global hero, saying a great light has gone out in the world.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him a man of vision who rejected violence and was one of "the most honorable figures of our time."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, hailed Mr. Mandela as a "symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation," calling his death "a great loss."

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed "deep grief" at the death of what he called a "world-renowned statesman." He said Mr. Mandela, who visited China twice, will always be remembered for his contributions to China-South African ties "and the cause of human progress."

Haitian President Michel Martelly said Mr. Mandela remains a "symbol of democracy" whose courage and "faith in the true struggle for equality" continue to guide mankind.

Pope Francis also expressed condolences, and said he prays that Mr. Mandela's example will inspire generations of South Africans.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs