| ACN News: Tuesday, 29th April 2008 – ZIMBABWE
Zimbabwe – “Genocide in the making”
FAMILIES in Zimbabwe have had their homes bulldozed by armed police, been left without food and water, and are reduced to begging in the streets where they are forced to sleep in freezing temperatures.
Such is the traumatic situation described by an eye-witness, who has sent a message which has been passed to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
The message comes after ACN decided to give more help to the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
The author of the message, who wishes to remain anonymous because of fears for his family’s safety, described the terror gripping the country.
In the message, he said: “We are all terrified at what they are going to destroy next. I mean they are actually ploughing down brick and mortar houses.
“One white family with twin boys of 10 had no chance of salvaging anything when a hundred riot police came in with AK47 [assault rifle]s and bulldozers and demolished their beautiful house – five bedrooms and pine ceilings – because it was ‘too close to the airport’, so we are feeling extremely insecure right now.
“To be frank with you, it’s genocide in the making,” he said.
The message comes at a time when ACN is about to give more emergency help, details of which are due to be announced shortly.
This aid is on top of the charity’s ongoing support for the pastoral and humanitarian work of missionary congregations working with the poor and dispossessed.
In his message, the eye-witness went on to describe the human cost of the atrocities.
He wrote: “Today a family approached me, [the] brother of the gardener’s wife with two small children. Their home was trashed and they will have to sleep outside.
“We already support eight adult people and a child on this property, and electricity is going up next month by 250 percent, as is water. How can I take on another family of four – and yet how can I turn them away to sleep out in the open?”
A statement from Zimbabwe’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Council of Churches, and the Evangelical Fellowship claim that those who voted against Robert Mugabe are being tortured, abducted and murdered.
The statement warned that “if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide”.
ACN was told by Fr Chris Smith of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) that they are getting more reports of violence and targeted retaliation.
With reports of violence escalating, the Church is concerned about armaments destined for land-locked Zimbabwe being transported via South Africa.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, spokesman for the SACBC, said, “I call on the South Africa government not to allow any more arms and munitions to enter Zimbabwe through South Africa until an acceptable solution is found to the present situation.”
While the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, said “I do not think we have reached the stage of [an] arms embargo in Zimbabwe”, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Wednesday (23rd) that the British government “will promote proposals for an embargo on all arms to Zimbabwe.”
On Thursday (24th), China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that a ship bound for Zimbabwe with a cargo of mortar bombs and munitions from China would turn back without unloading its cargo, after dockworkers in Durban, South Africa refused to unload it.
With inflation at more than 165,000 percent, ACN is continuing to support various projects including a $25,000 emergency food programme for people in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo threatened with starvation.
More than 500 children – many of them orphans – are receiving food and medical support via a programme run by Sisters in the Archdiocese.
According to the U.N. World Food Program, a third of the country’s 12 million people will face starvation unless they receive aid.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity – whose UK office is in Sutton, Surrey – undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 45 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information, please contact the Sydney office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: email@example.com or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 6245 Blacktown DC NSW 2148. Web:www.aidtochurch.org
Archive for April, 2008
Turkey is isolating itself from the world based solely on an event it is refusing to discuss. Recently the government refused to allow Mehmet Aydin to travel to Buenos Aires because Argentina had recognized the Armenian genocide. This is ludicrious.
Remember in 3rd grade when you didn’t talk to the girl in the second row for 4 years because she had called your best friend Betsy a know-it- all? Only to find out in the sixth grade that Betsy was a no-it-all and selfish and that the name caller, Sarah, was supercool and swiftly your best friend? The biggest regret about those 4 years was that you missed out on being friends with Sarah.
I recognize this is a pithy example of the relationship between Turkey and the rest of the world but it is just as silly as what is actually occuring. We must talk to realize our goals, to develp relationships and to be able to understand human history! NO nation furthers itself by isolating others. While I would be loathe to admit that the US carried out a “genocide” on the Native Americans, I’m not going to denying speaking with those who say so.
Turkey, its time to leave the 3rd grade and start attending 7th!
The following article appeared with the title “Mauritius: Saving a Nation and Averting Genocide”— it was so well written, I have nothing to add.
In January 2006 in an article entitled The hopeful continent, The Economist referred to a Gallup International Poll that indicated that Africans are the world’s staunchest optimists. Indeed post colonial African politics has undergone positive developments, which saw in certain parts of Africa a significant shift from single to multi party systems, the presence of opposition parties, the demise of political parties founded by military leaders as well as the introduction of a two-term presidential limit.
However these gains /advancements can easily be reversed, sending the continent and its people into the darkest of ages. In fact, the unfolding human tragedy in Zimbabwe and the recent traumatic post-election violence in Kenya bear witness to this.
polls with a strong expectation to change their destiny and that of their country. Instead the country has entered into deep political limbo which has seen a series of absurd / bizarre events ranging from the non release of the presidential results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the High Court’s outright rejection of the MDC’s petition to force ZEC to release the presidential election results and the decision of ZEC to accede to the demand of ZANU-PF to conduct a recount of the presidential, parliamentary, and local council votes from 23 constituencies!
Regular news feeds coming from Zimbabwe point to a country that is dangerously entering a point of no-return and, if allowed to go unchecked, may cause the genocide of a nation. The latest commando operation approved by Mugabe and his political cronies called Makavhoterapapi, a Shona word for ‘where did you put your cross?’ is profiling innocent Zimbabwean citizens who are being brutally mutilated and massacred. News of an ammunition cargo heading for Zimbabwe has accentuated the world’s concern and fear that Mugabe is gathering a war arsenal against his people.
This year marks 28 years that Mugabe ‘ruled’ Zimbabwe during which he took the country from glorious independence to absolute economic meltdown. Once known as the bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe currently runs a whopping inflation rate of 165,000 percent (up from the 100,000 pre election rate), has 80 percent of its people unemployed, has one of the lowest life expectancy in the world – 37 years and has some 3 million of its people living in exile.
A decade of trauma and misery
One would expect that these are rather exaggerated figures popularized by western media in an attempt to vilify the Mugabe regime. Alas there is nothing more real than the daily brunt of the average Zimbabwean citizen who has to develop extraordinary survival techniques just to exist. Supermarkets and shops remain constantly empty and if ever one is able to get one’s hands on ordinary bread the price is too high for most Zimbabwean citizens to afford.
I was recently talking to a colleague who is a senior academic at the University of Zimbabwe and was shocked to hear that his monthly salary is just enough to fill half the tank of his car with gasoline and that is if you are lucky enough to get it. To deal with inflation the central bank has resorted to the printing of a 50 million Zim note and even contemplating of releasing a 100 million note in the near future!
The world has kept a close and constant eye on the Zimbabwe crisis and the question that has been on everyone’s lips is – how do we put a stop to the human carnage and free the Zimbabwean people? The West and especially Britain has been reprimanded for interfering into African matters and that it is up to Africa to find solutions to its problems. This no doubt is a fair argument which I strongly adhere to. Unfortunately no solution has yet been delivered except a quiet diplomacy approach of letting the electoral process follow its course!
Two summits (Lusaka and SADC Poverty & Development) have been missed opportunities to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis in a direct and firm manner. For those of us who were there, Zimbabwe’s state of anarchy and crisis was mentioned only by civil society, the Prime minister of Norway and the European Union Commissioner! In fact, it is quite mind-boggling to deal with the thematic of poverty and development in the SADC region and ‘diplomatically’ avoid referring to the Zimbabwean case.
It is imperative that SADC as a region bloc / community (if it wants to maintain its credibility as a relevant platform for people / countries of the region) takes an urgent stand on the Zimbabwe crisis. As Kofi Annan mentioned a couple of days ago “Where are the Africans? Where are the leaders and the countries in the region? What are they doing? It’s a crisis that will impact beyond Zimbabwe and we have a responsibility to find viable solution.”
Many observers believe that Mugabe has been tolerated for too long by his peers who have turned a lenient or at times a blind eye to his excessive and abusive behaviour. This can be partly explained by the prevailing African political culture where status, hierarchy and liberation solidarity forged during the battle for independence rank high and there is no doubt that Mugabe scores full marks in that register. Mugabe’s anti colonialism ranting against Britain has occasionally won him sympathy among other African leaders who found in him a convenient stick to use against the West.
However, patience and solidarity is wearing thin as the quiet diplomacy favoured by the region’s appointed mediator – President Mbeki is not really delivering concrete results. Mbeki’s political autism on the Zimbabwe crisis has been contrasted by the outright position taken by ANC’s leader – Jacob Zuma. However there seems to be a glimmer of hope with the stepping up of international pressure through the harsh condemnation of UN’s secretary general and other foreign leaders. This saw the African Union this week add its voice to the chorus of disapproval; its current chairman, the president of Tanzania, is pressing within the AU and the SADC for action.
The last decade has seen Zimbabwe and the majority of its people slip into a hell hole. At the moment all energies and efforts are concentrated on getting rid of someone who prides on calling himself the black Hitler, however it is imperative to reflect on the needs / requirements of a post-Mugabe era. A decade of trauma, misery and absolute dispossession should give way to prosperity, stability and dignity. The IMF has put aside a US $ 1 billion currency and stabilization fund and there are proposals around important infrastructure projects. Rebuilding and restructuring will also have to review the thorny issue of land reform and ensure that the people of Zimbabwe get their due.
Zimbabwe is a nation in peril and time is of the essence as on a daily basis we hear of horror stories where our brothers and sisters are being savagely exterminated. As Africans we have the moral responsibility to intervene to avoid the genocide of a nation otherwise we shall be held account for the killing of our own people!
Before the Jews were slaughtered in the Holocaust, German militants killed off much of the Herero population. This little known genocide is one of the precedents in the theory that certain societies are pre-disposed to genocide. So, the Jews established a norm with the Herero that made killing the Jews easier.
The genocide of the Herero however has been rejected by the German Budenstag. Dr. Norman Lapert commented on the event. “I got a recommendation from that committee that this motion will not find a majority in the Bundestag – it will be rejected,” he said. Asked whether this would mean that the approximately 600 German MPs would not declare what happened under colonial rule 100 years ago as ‘genocide’, Lammert replied that Germany was aware of its special responsibility towards Namibia, but concrete support to Namibians, in the form of development assistance, was far more helpful.
Why like Turkey would the German’s want to politicize and legitimize a genocide that happened 100 years ago? Admitting to genocide is not good for either country politically nor in terms of self image. Yet, failing to acknowledge a genocide does not mean that the genocide did not occur. A lack of legitimization of a historical event is faulty thinking and in the end NEVER works. Furthermore, covering up thte genocide with aide is also cheap. Its like the cheating husband who “buys” off his wife with diamonds– they are relationships in which the underlying conceptualization is flawed.
Genocide scholars know of the plight of the Herero but few others do. Deleting a genocide from memory or failing to recognize its existence is falliable and should be condemned. I hope German citizens rethink their position. Your thoughts? Why would this be beneficial? Is the German goverment’s response with actions not words the most appropriate way to go??
An article from Mia Farrow….
There are few institutions in the world that claim to embody and protect humanity’s highest dreams and values. The International Olympic Committee, custodian of the Olympic Games, is one of them.
Any organization that lays claim to the lofty moral goal of protecting mankind’s universal dreams and aspirations should, from time to time, be subject to a reality check; rhetoric of morality and peace is without substance if words are not matched by deeds.
The situation in Darfur presents such an opportunity. There is a direct connection — financial, military, political and strategic — between this year’s Olympic host, China, and the humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur that has been called the first genocide of the 21st century.
Entering its sixth year, it is unclear how many have died from the conflict between the Arab-dominated government in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and the non-Arab tribes of the region of Darfur. Most estimates say there have been at least 200,000 casualties, though that is likely an undercount. More than 2.5 million people have been displaced.
As we speak, humanitarian aid is scaling back because the situation is so dangerous for aid workers. If there is no protection for the delivery of food and medicine, there is no aid.
And so, in addition to the recent spike in government and Janjaweed attacks that killed so many, most Darfurians are now dying a slow death of starvation and disease.
What does Darfur have to do with the International Olympic Committee? The IOC chose this year’s Olympic host, China. China is underwriting the genocide in Darfur. And the IOC has remained silent.
“Respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” is what the IOC’s Charter demands. When awarding the Olympics to China, the IOC said the Games would serve to “open up” China to the world on human rights issues. In fact, China’s promise to improve its record on human rights issues was reportedly part of Beijing’s pitch to the International Olympic Committee to win the privilege of hosting the Games.
Yet as the Games approach, the IOC has proven reluctant to mention, much less address, the human rights complaints about China. It was only recently, following large protests that dogged the Olympic Torch Relay in London and Paris, that the IOC President Jacques Rogge called for the peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue. Responding only to the squeakiest wheel, Rogge ignored the plight of Darfur.
And so has China. Despite intense international scrutiny, China has not yet substantially altered its mutually beneficial relationship with Khartoum, nor used its leverage to increase security for the citizens of Darfur.
Instead, China has condemned anyone who has dared to raise such issues — including the IOC. Shortly after Rogge, in his first — and tepid — comment about Tibet, made mention of a need for “moral engagement” by China, high-ranking Chinese officials publicly reprimanded him, saying the IOC should “stay out of politics.”
The Olympic Charter clearly claims that Olympic sport exists in the service of a better, more peaceful mankind, stating: “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”
There is still time for the IOC to make a difference and live up to its ideals. The IOC should immediately employ the singular tool available to it, the Olympic Truce, with respect to Darfur. The Truce calls for a cessation of hostilities for a period before, during and after the Games. To implement the Olympic Truce for the 2008 Games, the IOC should call on the UN Security Council to implement the full deployment of UN Resolution 1769 immediately so that civilians will be protected in Darfur before the Games commence.
The IOC has said that the Olympic Truce is symbolic — it stands for an idea. That’s exactly right.
If the IOC takes such an action, its leaders will be able to say it upholds the standards and principles entrusted to them by athletes and the world community.
If the IOC remains silent on Darfur, the leader of the Olympic movement will have proven itself unworthy of continuing to guard the Olympic flame.
The California governor has proclaimed 04/20- 04/27 as “Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide”. California, if you were unaware, has one of the largest Armenian exodus populations in the country; Massachusetts also has a large contingent. The Californian Armenian population has a significant and successful lobbying branch, which is partly why Speaker Pelosi is so fervent about bringing the topic to the forefront in Congress. There successful and determined attempt to make sure that the Armenian genocide is recognized resonates with politicians who are eager to get their vote.
For Schwarzenegger, the week of remembrance is a political movie– you must appease those who vote for you after all. Read the rest of this entry »
“African countries, particularly those in East Africa, in which Rwanda is a part, should take up the challenenge and take up the cases,” said Wallace Kapaya, a senior ICTR Trial Attorney, when presenting a paper at the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide at the University of Dar es Salaam over the weekend. The Tanzanian lawyer was representing the ICTR Prosecutor, Mr Hassan Jallow, at the occasion, which was attended by legal experts, politicians, academicians and members of the diplomatic corp.
He said that the Rwandan genocide was not solely a Rwandan issue. “It is an East African, and infact an African issue, requiring African solutions,” he stressed.
In fighting the culture of impunity, he stated, much depended on the level of state co-operation, however, adding that those states which fail in their responsibilities need to be encouraged and ultimately coerced into compliance.
Well the problem between Hutu and Tutsi extends further than just Rwanda, I feel that these statements make genocide seem like an “African problem”. Also by couching the issue in geographic localities it stops people from understanding the universality of the issue.
On a separate issue, Rwanda will not finish the trials without the assistance of other countries. Yet, the political and social climates in other nations may not be conducive to effective and fair trials. The DRC for example is not a fair and just nation nor do they look kindly on the Rwandan government. How then would they be effective in carrying out trials?
As far as I can recollect, I don’t remember any other genocide trials occurring in nations outside of where the crimes occurred. Is there precedent for this sort of argument? I’d love to know what you think and if you think this is possible way to stop the problem or a idealistic solution with no real potential!
The Armenians are creating their own privately funded genocide museum in Washington DC. I think this is fantastic in so much as we need to remember what has happened in order to understand it. The Jerusalem Post noted that slogan of never forgetting the Holocaust must apply to all genocides:
By failing to do so, we diminish ourselves and squander the moral authority we gained – gained not only because Jews are commanded to remember, but because Germany owned up to its crimes.
The Armenians and the Jews have much in common: atrocities, expulsion, our own languages and cultures, and schisms within our faiths. But we Jews have been spared one grievous harm: as Berenbaum has noted, the fact that Germany acknowledged the Holocaust enabled the Jews to commemorate it appropriately – not to argue about whether it happened.
The Museum to be called the Armenian Genocide Museum of America will be housed down 14th street approximately 20 minutes by foot from the current Holocaust museum and only a few blocks from the White House. Read the rest of this entry »
The Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman, Hasan Murat Mercan, has asked Isreali to stop discussion of the Armenian genocide. This move should surprise no one. The Turks have been avidly asking people to stop this discussion for years. This request even came with a slightly veiled threat: “We would prefer if this discussion would not take place at this time in the Israeli parliament because it may harm the relations between the two countries.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram, recently led with an article titled “Genocide Announced“. The title came following this statement by the Haredi religious leader Rabbi Yisrael Rosen: “All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts.” Based off of his interpretation of the Torah and in particular the parable of the Amalekites by the Jew, he quotes the following passage: “Annihilate the Amalekites from the beginning to the end. Kill them and wrest them from their possessions. Show them no mercy. Kill continuously, one after the other. Leave no child, plant, or tree. Kill their beasts, from camels to donkeys.” My first reaction to this was not one that questioned the statement– instead I felt sympathetic. Given that I am not usually sympathetic to genocide ideology, I’m decided to dedicate this post to my gut reaction……. Read the rest of this entry »