Mandela and Vanunu – Men of Courage


Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate – TRANSCEND Media Service

5th December, 2013

Last week the world’s political leaders stood united in admiration at the memorial service in South Africa to honour Nelson Mandela, leader of his country, and a man of courage who gave inspiration to many people around the world.

Across the world in East Jerusalem in solitude sits another man of courage, Mordechai Vanunu. In 1986 Vanunu, the Israeli Nuclear whistle-blower, told the world about Israel’s secret nuclear weapons.   For this he served 18 years in an Israeli prison, 12 in solitary confinement, and since his release in 2004 he has been forbidden to leave Israel, speak to foreigners, and is constantly under surveillance.

On 25Dec 2013, Christmas day, he will be brought again before an Israeli Supreme Court and will, yet again, ask for his right to leave Israel.

The Supreme Court can give him his freedom to go get on a plane and leave Israel as he wishes to do. I appeal to President Shimon Perez, to Prime Minister Netanyahu, to let him go. He is a man of peace, desiring freedom, who followed his conscience. He is no threat to Israel. He, like Mandela, has served now 27 years and deserves his freedom.

To the world’s political leaders who recognized in Mandela a man of honour and courage and saluted him, I appeal to you to do all in your power to help Vanunu get his freedom now. You have it in your power to do so. Please do not be ‘silent’ whilst Mordechai Vanunu suffers and is refused his basic rights.

To the world’s media, I appeal to you to report on Vanunu‘s continuing isolation and enforced silence by Israel.

To civil communities everywhere, I appeal to you to increase your efforts for Vanunu’s freedom and demand that ‘Israel let our brother Mordechai Go.

We cannot be free while he is not free.


Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See:


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 Dec 2013.

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One Response to “Mandela and Vanunu – Men of Courage”

  1. ingrid kepler-may says:

    I consider this the central human rights issue for this “holiday season”.
    PLEASE permit Mordechai Vanunu to leave Israel. He one of my heros. My best friend who was part of the Kindertransport joins me strongly.

    Thank you.

    Ingrid Kepler-May, M.Ed., M.A.